Monday, May 29, 2006

I shouldn't, but I do

It has been two years since I severed ties with The Rose & Thorn but it cropped up again yesterday, as it does from time to time. One of the editors, no longer on staff, emailed me wanting to know how I was and where I was now and I was redoing my writing resume for an online submission and needed links to some of my work, links that included work I did over the near decade I worked on R&T. Curiosity is in my nature. It's part of who I am and has goaded me into many different arenas, including spontaneous travel. Curiosity is what gives me an edge when I'm interviewing someone or compiling data or doing research. Curiosity is the umbrella under which the eternal questions wait: who, what, where, when and why. Why is a big one for me and is the first word I ever spoke after being thrust from the warm liquid dark into the harsh cold glare. Why is on my mind and on my lips again.

Why, despite the beautiful changes in graphics and fonts, has no one bothered to look beyond the table of contents and keep the rest of the site updated? Nothing has been done with 80% of the pages as if no awards have been won since I left and no one has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize from R&T very talented cadre of poets and writers. Why has the rest of R&T died and why did no one notice?

I probably shouldn't care. After all, I'm no longer part of the staff. Why do I care?

Why do I care? That's a question I ask myself all the time when I look back at people and places behind me and wonder what they are doing or how they have changed. From time to time I think of my ex-husband with whom I spent seven years of my life and share three sons. I haven't seen him in more than twenty years but I still wonder how he is doing, especially when I hear he has had "another" heart attack and I realize he is getting older. He is the same age as his father when his health declined and he was faced with multiple surgeries. I don't hate my ex-husband. I don't have any feelings about him, good or bad, but I wonder how he is. He is a part of my life and my past and another human being. Why do I care?

Is it all wrapped up in general curiosity or is there something else at work here?

I received another article from Mike Levine in Israel. Mike is a retired journalist from New York and a long time friend. There are some areas where we don't agree but Mike provides me with an inside view of Israel and the conflict in the Middle East, a view I cannot get from the newspapers or news on the Internet. I have read about the dissent and inner workings of Gaza and the resettlement of Palestinians in Israel. I am personally connected to people who have been within meters of suicide bombings and have known a suicide bomber or two. I have read both sides of the story, of Palestinians who have watched Israeli soldiers urinate on their vegetable gardens from atop the walls that ring their settlements to people I know caught in the blast from a suicide bomber who was barely past his teen years. I see hate and anger from both sides and wonder where I would choose to sit were both sides in a room together. I see the good and the bad but they are thousands of miles away. Why do I care?

The Nazis are gone and Hitler is dead. The Jews have their own country now. There are no more pogroms and no one is building another camp with ovens big enough to hold and cremate the millions of Jews, homosexuals, gypsies and dissidents gassed in the showers. The holocaust will not happen again. It cannot happen again. So, why do I care?

Because I am a part of it all even from here.

I cannot turn my back on the world even though there are times when the world is my tiny corner with my unfinished decorating and the laundry piled in the African carry basket. I cannot insulate myself or be blind to what is happening simply because it isn't happening right outside my door. Germans today hate the Jews as much as they always have but they keep it quiet because it's bad for business and they don't have the military might to back it up. The 9/11 bombers lived and organized in Germany and one of the best selling books in the Middle East in Arab countries is Mein Kampf. Sweden has welcomed Hamas leader Salah Muhammad al-Bardawil into the country and granted him a visa. Salah Muhammad al-Bardawil is he leader of an internationally known terrorist group, someone the U.S. and NATO and the United Nations have looked for since 9/11. He should have been arrested. Sweden, ever on the side of who they believe will eventually win any conflict, has allied with 400,000 Muslims because they want their votes on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, forgetting that it was high grade Swedish ore that drove the Nazi war machine.

In a time when an atrocity like the Holocaust is questioned as myth and Anti-Semitism continues rampant, I cannot turn my back or believe that ignorance is bliss, especially with the lesson of Hitler's bloodless coup and near annexation of most of Europe still fresh in my mind. No one believed Hitler would catapult the world into such a devastating war or eradicate millions of people because it didn't make sense. England and America stood by and allowed Hitler to gain a foothold and it cost millions of lives to put the genie back into the bottle.

Think it can't happen again?

Take another look outside your window.

It is happening and on a scale and scope unbelievably more devastating than it was more than sixty years ago.

We are faced with an insidious enemy who has focused the world's attention on a small country in the Middle East born from the ashes of the last world war. Hitler's legacy endures and it has spread to the volatile Middle East where brother has battled brother for millennia because one was chosen and the other was not. It is no longer about weapons of mass destruction or oil or freedom but very simply about the continuation of the human race. If we turn our backs on Israel and the Jews again there will be no freedom and no one to care or remember that it couldn't happen again. Hitler's spirit lives on in Hamas and Al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia and Palestine and every American and Jew hating Muslim heart, including Germany and Sweden and France.

Why do I care?

Because I don't want to see all the hard work undone or left to languish unchecked and unchanged because no one has the time to stop and focus on something other than their own concerns. I care because, while I do not live in the Middle East or Israel or Germany or Sweden, while I am no longer on staff and no longer married, what happens out there beyond my windows and the horizon I can see will affect me and the rest of the world if we fail to look back and remember and take a look beyond the front page and the table of contents.

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