Whose idea is this, anyway?

My favorite TV ad features a big eyed, sad faced, muppet-like creature that nobody wants around. Ignored by all, left to sleep next to the trash bin in a dirty back alley, it wanders from place to place, dragging its scraggly tail behind it ,until one kind soul finally opens a door and invites it inside. As it walks out of the darkness and into the light its raggedness gradually transforms, until, behold! It is magically reborn, sporting luminous rainbow colored plumage, while an audience of admirers generously cheers it on.

This heart rending spot is about ideas 

How we fear, resist and ignore them, leaving them to find their way up through the cracks of our lives far too often., I’m surprised at how good we are at doing this. And how ignorant we are of what we’re doing, most, if not all of the time.

 I’m equally surprised at how easilly we get caught in this trap ,ignoring even a brilliant  idea whose time came, so many years ago, when we first opened our doors to people, from around the world, desperate  to escape horrendous conditions, seeking comfort upon our safe, un-war torn  shores.
In a comment in the November 9th edition of The New Yorker on line
George Packer reminds us that “In the Second World War, Congress passed legislation that made resettlement in the U.S. harder for Jewish victims of Nazism than for Germans uprooted by the war Hitler started. The chairman of the Senate’s immigration sub-committee presented the problem with a loathsome flourish,  stating, ‘Many of those who seek entrance into this country have little concept of our form of government. Many of them come from lands where Communism had its first growth and dominates the political thought and philosophy of the people.’  Does this sound familiar?  Why doesn’t he just say what he means. (Too many of them are Jews. We thought that problem was disposed of)
Only the angry persistence of President Harry S. Truman got Congress to expand the numbers and remove the discriminatory provisions. so they too could live and flourish.”
New and foreign people (like new and foreign ideas) scare us.
Who knows what beliefs they harbor. What harm they might do? Do they hate us or love us? Will they adapt, or will they flounder in the thick soup of “American exceptionalism?”
At first, I was torn. But after slogging through my future- based fears the choice became clear: its time for our compassion challenged* country, which gives such easy lip service to “freedom and liberty for all,”  to do what it was created to do, by honoring the highest of its ideas and ideals.
 I hope that’s not too much to ask. Or is it?
Here’s an image to move this idea along:
Coming Home
See before you the Statue of Liberty.
See her raising her lamp higher, and beckoning the lost and homeless to Freedom’s Shore.
Become as one with her, as you sense, feel and live how it is to walk the talk of liberty and, freedom for all.
Then breathe out and open your eyes, knowing all is well.
*The “Idea” ad is from GE.
* Compassion challenged is a term used by Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak, in her November 3rd column on the plight of the homeless, as exacerbated by the law.

 

 

 

New Year Musings: Out with The Old

New Years eve was never one of my favorites. Perhaps it’s those memories of dates and days past when I expected so much and wound up with so little. The right place, but the wrong boy. The right boy but a lousy kisser. Worse even. A blind date. A beautiful dress worn to a terrible party where some dolt spilled his drink on the dress, ne’er to be worn again ─  where it was too close for comfort, too disappointing to do anything but ignore, then forget, as I stood in the freezing cold, waiting for a cab that refused to show up, or even worse, passed me by.

But there was one New Years eve that I gave a party and it all came together. When everyone showed up in formal dress. When everything clicked. When the snow started falling before midnight and we all went off to play and allowed it to anoint us with a moment of magic. When romance was in the air and in my heart and anything seemed possible. I tried to create a repeat performance the following year but it fell flat, as my neighbor’s husband decided to hit on me, the guests left their fun genes back home, and the snow refused to snow on cue.

New Years gets so much hype that it’s hard to live up to the foreplay.The peak moment comes and goes; there’s lots of noise and hoopla; the rockets rock; the bubbly bubbles; the kissers kiss; and the ball comes down in Times Square while the people from Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, Indiana, Ohio, and Kansas, watch and cheer and stand there in the freezing cold insisting they’re having a fabulous time. Then poof, its over and done with. And everyone goes home. And the old year is out and the New Year is in. And we make our resolutions and get set to do it again in one form or another the following year. So what ‘s it all about Alfie?

On a scale of 1 to 10, (10 being the best,1 the worst) 2013 was a 2. Not  quite a 1, which I reserve for events like September 11th. It earns this dubious honor via government shutdowns and mass shootings. Petty, self interested law-makers who refuse to tame gun rights or renew unemployment benefits. And right wing rants by Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannity, and the Palin woman, insisting that the poor give up more, and the rich give up nothing. That ObamaCare, is destroying American civilization and must be stopped at all costs.That Obama is a Kenyan who’s destroying American civilization.That Obama’s birth certificate is destroying American civilization. And that American civilization is exceptional and must be saved by getting rid of Obama and all things that bear his name, likeness and subversive socialist soul in any shape or form. Also, that Pope Francis, who may be way too cool a dude for a pope, is really a communist who threatens the pillars of Christianity, which they consistently fail to recognize is based on those awful “socialist” concepts about being thy brother’s keeper, especially if thy brother is poorer than you and less powerful.

It feels good to leave this past year behind although the Toronto mayor proved good for some laughs, and Chris Christy managed to show his true colors by closing down the access lanes to the GW Bridge as punishment for the  mayor of Ft. Lee, New Jersey having failed to support his reelection campaign for governor. Speak of ego gone wilder than usual. Even for a politician.

Despite this undistinguished history I look forward to a better and different 2014. Yet we had best stay vigilant. As actor, producer, writer, and general all around bigger than life talent Harvey Fierstein says: “You can’t just ignore evil.”

The author Thomas Cahill, spoke with Bill Moyers on Moyer’s show this past week and set my priorities straight.

“There are only two things in this world,” Cahill said. “There’s cruelty and there’s kindness.”

For this year, just beginning, as yet unblemished by anything cruel or dark, I pray we choose kindness. Each of us. One by one. It may just be enough to put a protective circle of light, a blessed imprint of “good” on our lives and on our world.

Thomas Cahill is the author of “How the Irish Saved Civilization,” “Pope John XXIII, ” “Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter,” and most recently “Heroes and Heretics.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Year Musings: 2014

New Years eve was never one of my favorites. Perhaps it’s those memories of dates and days past when I expected so much and wound up with so little. The right place, but the wrong boy. The right boy but a lousy kisser. Worse even. A blind date.  A beautiful dress worn to a terrible party where some dolt spilled his drink on the dress, ne’er to be worn again ─  where it was too close for comfort, too disappointing to do anything but ignore then forget, as I stood in the freezing cold, waiting for a cab that refused to show up, or even worse, passed me by.

But there was one New Years eve that I gave a party and it all came together. When everyone showed up in formal dress. When everything clicked. When the snow started falling before midnight and we all went out to play and allowed it to anoint us with a moment of magic. When romance was in the air and in my heart and anything seemed possible. I tried to create a repeat performance the following year but it fell flat, as my neighbor’s husband decided to hit on me, the guests left their fun genes back home, and the snow refused to snow on cue.

New Years eve gets so much hype that it’s hard to live up to the foreplay. The peak moment comes and goes; there’s lots of noise and hoopla; the rockets rock; the bubbly bubbles; the kissers kiss; and the ball comes down in Times Square while the people from Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, Indiana, Ohio, and Kansas, stand there in the freezing cold and insist they’re having a fabulous time. Then poof, its over and done with. Everyone goes home. And the old year is out and the New Year is in. And we make our resolutions and get set to do it again in one form or another the following year. So what‘s it all about Alfie?

On a scale of 1 to 10, (10 being the best,1 the worst) 2013 was a 2. Not quite a 1, which I reserve for events like September 11th. It earns this dubious honor via government shutdowns and mass shootings. Petty, self interested law-makers who refuse to tame gun rights or renew unemployment benefits. And right wing rants by Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannity, and the Palin woman, insisting that the poor give up more, and the rich give up nothing. That ObamaCare, is destroying American civilization and must be stopped at all costs. That Obama is a Kenyan who’s destroying American civilization. That Obama’s birth certificate is destroying American civilization. And that American civilization is exceptional and must be saved by getting rid of Obama and all things that bear his name, likeness and subversive socialist soul in any shape or form. Also, that Pope Francis, who may be way too cool a dude for a pope, is really a communist who threatens the pillars of Christianity, which they consistently fail to recognize is based on those awful “socialist” concepts about being thy brother’s keeper, especially if thy brother is poorer than thee and less powerful.

It feels good to leave this past year behind, although the Toronto mayor proved good for some laughs, and Chris Christy managed to show his true colors by closing down the access lanes to the GW Bridge as punishment for the  mayor of Ft. Lee, New Jersey who refused to support his reelection campaign for governor. Speak of ego gone wilder than usual. Even for a politician.

Despite this sad history I look forward to a better and different 2014. Yet we’d best stay vigilant. As actor, producer, writer, and general all around bigger than life talent Harvey Fierstein says: “You can’t just ignore evil.”

The author Thomas Cahill, spoke with Bill Moyers on Moyer’s show this past week and set my priorities straight.

“There are only two things in this world,” Cahill said. “There’s cruelty and there’s kindness.” For the year just beginning, as yet unblemished by anything cruel or dark, I pray we choose kindness. Each of us. One by one. It may just be enough to put a protective circle of light, a blessed imprint of “good” on our lives and on our world.

Thomas Cahill is the author of “How the Irish Saved Civilization,” “Pope John XXIII, ” “Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter,” and most recently “Heroes and Heretics.”