samedi, juillet 29, 2006

Do you have a deed?

I seem to spend an awful lot of time mowing my lawn. I have a push mower and it mulches as it goes, which means that I have to stop a lot and let the mower spit the grass back on the ground. With our "Inconvenient Truth" weather (spells of humidity punctuated with pyrotechnical thunderstorms that don't seem to break the relentless heat), I try to get out and mow in the early evening. Now that we have passed the summer solstice, it seems to be getting darker a lot earlier (although I know that this can't be true) and so I often am out at sunset, lifting my eyes to the pink clouds as the light fades, peering down at the grass to see where the clover raises its white and purple flowers. A lot of time is spent looking out for the croquet mallets and wrist guards that the kids have tossed carelessly on the grass before dashing inside to take get ready for bed, their laughter and arguments lingering in the still air, a memory and a promise. It is at that hour that the deer come to visit. It may be innacurate to say that they come to visit. I've got a strange feeling that they think they are the normal inhabitants, and wonder why I keep coming out to bother them. Often they stay where they are, munching on apples, perking up their big ears when I talk to them, but showing little sign that they are worried. Even the shaky-legged fawns, still remaining close to their elders, look at me as though I am a pesky tenant. As long as they don't get into my vegetable garden (built by a good friend to withstand such wily predators), we are very good neighbors. My intent is to create a perennial border in my new garden that will be relatively hostile to deer, but hopefully they don't know that. I do have some floppy-eared cottontailed snackers that have apparently managed to get under Farmer McGregor's fence and feast on my peas...but perhaps share and share alike is the price for living cheek by jowl with our four-legged lodgers.

jeudi, juillet 27, 2006

Connecting the Dots

A huge crack of thunder broke the silence of the night, and the rain poured down outside my window. The flashes of heat lightning seem almost constant...we twice lost power for about 30 seconds, but the lights seem to be staying on at the most of the folks in this area who are still up, my mind went back to last week and the storms that shook our power grid and brought parts of this five county area to a standstill. Close to a hundred people have died in California from a persistent bout of high temperatures. In Europe. where many don't have air conditioning, people are dying, too. Thankfully we don't have an enormous the moment! It baffles me why there is no national movement to enforce fuel economy, green forms of energy, emissions trading, and a general admission on the part of this Administration and its big oil pals that global warming is indeed a reality...and that we must do something about it! Can you tell how personal this is becoming for me? As a mother, I am becoming more and more concerned that my kids won't have a viable world in which to grow up. Maybe its time for us to start doing somethinga about it. Maybe doing something effective should begin...with me.

mercredi, juillet 26, 2006

Israel and Lebanon pt two

Chaplain Catherine's + thoughtful response to my first post on the Middle East made me think about whether I was beating up too hard on Israel. The problem is that there is no point at which one can say: "they started it", whether the "they" is the Israelis or Hezbollah. The creation of Hezbollah was a response to previous battles between Israel and Middle Eastern rejectionists, bankrolled in part by Syria and possibly by Iraq. While Israelis quite understandably see Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, Southern Lebanese turn to them for medical care and for charitable aid. But even that chain of events is due to another one and one before that-these combatants have been at war so long it is hard to recall at time with any sustained truce. So yes, Israel has a right to defend itself, and yes, aside from the United States, its bankroller and fervent defender, it has lots of hot enemies and cool friends. But does that make its every action defensible? There's something bizarre going on when civilian convoys keep getting hit and a UN observer post is targted after apparently repeated warnings from the UN. Bad intelligence? One would expect more from one of the most sophisticated military/spying operations in the Middle East. Again, the UN has not always been well disposed to Israel. There have been many times when anti-Jewish interests ruled. Yet much of that bigotry is in the past. As to the lack of implementation of resolutions-What motivation does Lebanon have to respect the particular resolution mandating that Hezbollah stay away from the Israeli -Lebanese border when the Israelis have ignored so many others others about the Palestinians that they didn't want to obey? It is also not obvious that the government in Lebanon has the ability to enforce peace on its own borders. In my opinion, everyone in the Middle East needs policing or help with good boundaries. Not that we have a hell of a lot of street cred in that regard. Here's one for you Christians-there seems to be a functional heresy here. On a deeper level, what makes us think that we can clear up human evil or make things better with bloodletting? There are precious few wars that really meet the "just war" criteria. Ask yourself- where are the good fruits of the Spirit in this conflict? However, one thing is clear-our government is paying dearly for its lunatic focus on regime change. Once again it is playing catch-up in an area in which you always have to be on top of, if not ahead, of the depots and "manly men" who shoot before they talk.

dimanche, juillet 23, 2006

The bitter fruit of Iraq

"Behind Hezbollah’s rockets lurks the specter of a newly unleashed Iran, its patron and supplier. Israel — which hoped to reap some peace after its withdrawal from Gaza — has been emboldened to lash out against its enemies more aggressively than it has in two decades. Iraq is in ruins, and the Arab states seem paralyzed. Everywhere, the struts that upheld the region’s tenuous stability are wavering, and fierce new winds are blowing.
Whatever the outcome of the current proxy war — fought on the soil of the suffering Lebanese — this broader struggle for dominance will continue to play itself out. So the question arises: What is America’s role in this volatile new world? Arab democracy may be a distant dream, but there is still much to be gained or lost in the region, from access to crucial oil fields, to fighting terrorism, to the security of Israel.
The Bush administration stuck to its playbook through Israel’s initial assault, giving a tacit blessing to its airstrikes and maintaining a studied silence: We do not negotiate with bad guys like Syria and Iran. That has left it with little leverage, and virtually no one to talk to.
Some critics of the administration emphasize the benefit of talking with Syria or Iran. Tehran in particular can inflict pain on American troops and allies in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as Israel. But it is not clear that such negotiations would succeed." Robert Worth, NYT Week in Review
Taken from today's paper, these comments are part of a broader analysis of the current situation in the Middle East. It is obvious that the US intervention in Iraq has done more to destabilize the tenous balances in the Arab world than any of them, including Saddam Hussein, could have done on their own. Iraq, headed by a man who terms Israel a tumor, is emboldened to continue with its nuclear program. Israel, with no check on its relentless assault (does it matter that they claim they are trying to avoid innocents, they are dying anyway) on civilians, and a steady stream of bombs send COD from the United States, is emboldened to try to wipe out its enemy, Hezbollah. Thanks to Hezbollah and to Israel, the fragile state of Lebanon is being crushed.
As we see the leaders of the Middle Eastern states struggle with this new map of horror, it is well to remember that we are in part responsible. It was American leaders, given cover by a group of bent intellectuals, who thought that the United States and its allies could bring democracy to Iraq, a state patched together by thuggery and led by a dictator. The brain trust of George Bush and Dick Cheney and their colleagues still seem to think that you can eradicate evil by stamping out those who fuel it. Perhaps this was a seductive idea at the beginning, when we were high on the fumes of fury at what happened to us on 9/11/2001. But as we have seen over and over again, killing those who hate you, and taking the lives of others in the process, only encourages their descendants and friends to hate you, and to carry on the fued from generation to generation. The ineptness of the Administration's approach is evinced by the fact that Iraq is heading, if not already enmeshed in, a civil war that often takes the lives of 50 or more innocent men, women and children a day.
How can one bless the destruction of Lebanon? How can our leaders not repent of the horror of the death count in Iraq? If they represent American Christanity, God help us.
And they really aren't any more convincing as leaders than they are as believers-Condi and George and Dick really don't wish to sit down with Syria, and certainly have no desire to engage the venom of Iran's leader-the irony is, in a Middle East trapped in bloodshed and prey to the fear of aging despots, that they have left themselves almost no other choice.