STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND?

What if you were stranded on a desert island or had just one day to live? Perhaps you are just snowed in for the day and can not get out. In any case, it seems like a good time to consider this again.

SERENDIPITY

The “What Ifs” of Life, by Rich Paschall

Certainly you have seen some of the various questions surrounding you being stranded on a desert island?  If you were stranded, who would you like to be with?  What 5 things would you take along?  What 5 things that you have now could you do without?  What one album would you take?  What electronic device would you need?  This assumes you would not run out of batteries I guess.

96-BeachAtDawn-NK

These, and questions like them, present interesting challenges to a person that they may not consider otherwise.  Who is the most important person in your life?  Is that the one you want by your side?  Perhaps you would rather have someone with survival skills.  Perhaps you would not want the other to be stranded too.  Perhaps you would rather be alone.

What 5 things would you take along?  This really calls for…

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An emotional life

Two years ago today, there was a tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  It seems to be time we take another look at that tragedy as school shootings and deaths continue to happen.  This was written soon after the Sandy Hook shootings:

Taking desperate measures

Sometimes we are just at wit’s end.  The business of living gets so difficult that a feeling of exasperation washes over us.  What do you do in these moments?  What do you say?  What will relieve the stress?  Some people squeeze foam rubber toys.  Others go for long walks or get in their cars and go for long rides.  Some might lash out at friends or family although they may not mean to do so.

English: A portrait engraved for a posthumous ...

English: A portrait engraved for a posthumous edition of Rousseau’s works, after an original by Angelique Briceau. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In moments of deep frustration I may have snapped at someone when I should not have.  I recall moments when I was not my best.  I usually feel quite bad if I raise my voice or say mean things.  People may not believe it at times when I am upset, but I really do try to keep my emotions in check.  What I say and how I react should be a measure of true feeling, and not some instant burst of emotion.  It is hard to live a carefully measured life.  It is an emotional world and many of us live an emotional life for which we have no good explanation.

I recently watched the fine PBS series called  “This emotional life.”  It examined the things that make us happy or sad, feel loved or unloved.  It also took a look at what makes us angry.  It showed how some react to certain situations with anger and even violence.  Interestingly, some people who exhibited antisocial behavior were not nurtured properly as children.  They may have gone without the touch of a parent or loved one with whom they could bond.  An interesting case of an adopted boy who had trouble accepting the love of his parents was also one where the boy lacked attention and personal care from others.  His orphanage had no time for that.  It took counselling and therapy to try to get him to love his parents back.  Being or feeling rejected even as young as infancy can have a terrible long-term effect.  In the final analysis however, we all want to love and be loved.  We all want to be happy, what ever that entails.  Although we can not really define it, we may spend a lifetime seeking happiness or fulfillment.

At some point most of us do stupid things out of anger that we regret.  We may or may not apologize for these transgressions.  We may or may not lose a friend over it.  We may or may not do something bordering on criminal.  Most of us will stop short of that, and that is what keeps society rolling along, even if on a somewhat wobbly tilt.  Then there are the few who have lost control.  Perhaps they did not get nurtured in the proper way.  Perhaps they did not benefit from good examples in their lives.  Perhaps there was a chemical imbalance in the brain that needed relief through modern pharmaceuticals.  Perhaps we just don’t know.

This week we were ripped apart by this: Charlotte Bacon, 6. Daniel Barden, 7. Olivia Engel, 6. Josephine Gay, 7. Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6. Dylan Hockley, 6. Madeleine F. Hsu, 6. Catherine V. Hubbard, 6. Chase Kowalski, 7. Jesse Lewis, 6. James Mattioli, 6. Grace McDonnell, 7. Emilie Parker, 6. Jack Pinto, 6. Noah Pozner, 6. Caroline Previdi, 6. Jessica Rekos, 6. Avielle Richman, 6. Benjamin Wheeler, 6. Allison N. Wyatt, 6.  These are grade school children and their ages.  They are innocents.  We do not know what they would have grown up to be.  Perhaps one would grow up to find a cure for a form of cancer.  Another may have taught children to be better people.  There could have been a girl here that would be leader of the free world.  There may even have been a boy who would have mediated a peace in the Middle East.  We will never know.  Why?  We may never know because there was a boy who grew up unhappy and troubled.  Something happened  that made his emotional life spin out of control.  Before taking his own life, he robbed many families of the most precious thing they had: their children.

The horrible nightmare that fell on a late fall day in a Connecticut school will lead to many hours of debate on gun control.  How did this troubled young man get these guns?  Who sold him the ammunition?  Were the proper background checks performed?  Did he have the proper permits?  Some will listen to the rhetoric and the subtle, or not so subtle, political undertones and wonder, “are we missing the point here?”  While the debate will rage on until it fades away in talk of  the pending fiscal cliff, the college Bowl season, or New Year’s Rocking Eve, will the actual issue ever be addressed?  What was it in this man’s life that drove him to such desperate measures?

While states and the federal government contemplate budget cuts that slash funds to mental health facilities and critical medical and psychological research, should we not ask where our priorities lie?  More police and stricter laws do not necessarily lead to less crime and punishment.  We need to be less concerned about the aftermath and more concerned about prevention.  I think back to This Emotional Life and the adopted child who was not given love as a child.  Although he was only a few years old when adopted, he needed a tremendous amount of help to get past the lack of love a child needs in early development.

When we consider providing for domestic tranquility, let us carefully consider what it will take to insure that as many children as possible grow up with the love and care that they need.  Yes, I know many will come forward to claim that it is not the role of any level of government to interfere with a family or tell people how to raise children, but is it better than to wait to punish those who commit horrendous acts upon our society?  It seems that when we formed this nation we also agreed to a social contract with government.  It is one well rooted in the philosophy of such thinkers as John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  We made a deal with the government to protect and defend, to nurture and preserve our freedom.  One concept of government is to help provide a peaceful society that brings education and culture to all.  Another concept is to arm ourselves against one another and execute those who do not follow the laws.  Which society will you have?

Did You Hear That?

Life in Gaza

Last Tuesday night was a pleasant night in the big Midwest city I call home.  It was just about a perfect summer night, with pleasant temperatures and a light breeze.  You dream of nights like that.  On the other side of the world, it was more of a nightmare than anything else.  If you dreamed of anything, it was finding peace and perhaps a home somewhere, anywhere else in the world.

“Did you hear that?” he asked me in a quiet tone of voice.

“Yes, I hear it,” I told him.  It was the sounds of rockets landing nearby.  Gaza City was under siege by rocket attack.  It had been going on all night.  In the early hours before dawn in the Middle East, we talked by Skype.

I met my Palestinian friend a couple of years ago on a language learning site called Livemocha.  He was a student interested in languages and I was there continuing my feeble attempt to learn some French.   The site had a social media type component where language students could ask other language students to help with their lessons.  Through that method you could earn virtual currency you could then use to have teachers correct your lessons, rather than students.  Several asked for my help with English.  I would correct their lessons or listen to their voice lessons and comment back on their pronunciation and use of language.   It was all well structured then.  A couple of the students have kept in touch, one is a teenager in Brazil, the other is a young man in Gaza.

Gaza Strip

Gaza Strip

On Monday, when things were starting to fall apart in Gaza, I left a text message, “Write, tell me you are safe.  The news makes me sad, I want you to be somewhere safe.”  Later that morning he responded, “Hello! Thanks. I’m kinda okay.  The situation is not good at all but I’m still alive.”  By Monday night the tone of his message was a bit more somber: “Today was really terrible here. They rocketed us with more than 200 rockets.  I could not sleep all night long.”

On Tuesday night, I left another message at night.  I mentioned that we saw rockets landing on both sides.  “I wish you could get out of there right away,” I typed.  Then a file came across.  He sent me an English language article from a Turkish newspaper.  It said the three Israeli teenagers whose deaths may have led to this fighting were killed in an accident, and Israelis hid their bodies. Later they claimed Hamas had killed the boys.  I told him this is not the story the rest  of the world has and I sent him an article from my MSN home page.  I did admit Hamas did not take credit for the killing.

“Hamas said that they didn’t kill anyone. And they (Israel) want to start the war as usual. If Hamas rocketed 200, they rocketed more than 500 only for an hour.”  I told him I would be upset everyday until he could get away from there.  Then he called.

We spoke for 11 minutes and 04 seconds.  He explained the dangerous situation his family and friends find themselves in.  A few explosions were heard during the course of the call.  At the time we were finishing the call it was the early morning hour he might be getting up for prayers.  It is the holy month of Ramadan and the day begins early and the fasting lasts all day and well into the night.  I suspect there is little prayer and contemplation as homes are being destroyed and women and children killed.

Of course, I know there are rockets landing on the other side, but you will see that the other side has a comparative lack of casualties.  That’s because they have warning sirens, bomb shelters, missile defense systems.  In comparison, the average person in Gaza is defenseless against the constant bombardment that the other side brings against anything it might think could be Hamas, whether it is home or work, school or mosque, café or restaurant.  The proof that war is hell is everywhere in the poverty-stricken patch of the world called Gaza.

Wednesday began with some text messages as before.  He sent a video across and asked me to watch.  It was an explosion near his house.  Another video showed small children, injured and bloody being carried from a site of play by the looks of the background.  After a few exchanges about the videos, he called.  We talked about the situation in Gaza.  Odd to me is that people are not mad at Hamas.  He tries his best to explain that to me.  We talk of the sad history of Palestine.  He shows me a Wikipedia article to help get some time frames correct.  He also sends over a book whose merits I have yet to judge.  We also talk of other things.  In the midst of war, we can still dream of better times ahead for everyone.  He wishes to return to his studies and be a student of languages.  Now he is a prisoner, so to speak, in an overcrowded piece of land where most people are refugees from their own homes on land nearby.

I did not find him Thursday night online so I left a message.  I checked Friday morning before work and found him online.  We sent messages back and forth for a few minutes.  He told me it was much worse there.  I told him I would pray all day for peace, and I had to go so as not to be late for work.  “Okay. Have a good day,” he wrote.  In the midst of war he wishes me a good day.

That was the last message I had.  As I write this for you on Saturday night, I have nothing more.  He did like my status on facebook at some point on Friday.  I wrote, “Pray for peace.”

Note:  I have written many pieces of fiction for this space and another on Word Press.  This is the true story of a small part of my week.  I can not begin to imagine what it is like for my young friend in Gaza.  I can only recount for you some of his words and stories.

Taking desperate measures

English: A portrait engraved for a posthumous ...

English: A portrait engraved for a posthumous edition of Rousseau’s works, after an original by Angelique Briceau. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes we are just at wit’s end.  The business of living gets so difficult that a feeling of exasperation washes over us.  What do you do in these moments?  What do you say?  What will relieve the stress?  Some people squeeze foam rubber toys.  Others go for long walks or get in their cars and go for long rides.  Some might lash out at friends or family although they may not mean to do so.

In moments of deep frustration I may have snapped at someone when I should not have.  I recall moments when I was not my best.  I usually feel quite bad if I raise my voice or say mean things.  People may not believe it at times when I am upset, but I really do try to keep my emotions in check.  What I say and how I react should be a measure of true feeling, and not some instant burst of emotion.  It is hard to live a carefully measured life.  It is an emotional world and many of us live an emotional life for which we have no good explanation.

I recently watched the fine PBS series called  “This emotional life.”  It examined the things that make us happy or sad, feel loved or unloved.  It also took a look at what makes us angry.  It showed how some react to certain situations with anger and even violence.  Interestingly, some people who exhibited antisocial behavior were not nurtured properly as children.  They may have gone without the touch of a parent or loved one with whom they could bond.  An interesting case of an adopted boy who had trouble accepting the love of his parents was also one where the boy lacked attention and personal care from others.  His orphanage had no time for that.  It took counselling and therapy to try to get him to love his parents back.  Being or feeling rejected even as young as infancy can have a terrible long-term effect.  In the final analysis however, we all want to love and be loved.  We all want to be happy, what ever that entails.  Although we can not really define it, we may spend a lifetime seeking happiness or fulfillment.

At some point most of us do stupid things out of anger that we regret.  We may or may not apologize for these transgressions.  We may or may not lose a friend over it.  We may or may not do something bordering on criminal.  Most of us will stop short of that, and that is what keeps society rolling along, even if on a somewhat wobbly tilt.  Then there are the few who have lost control.  Perhaps they did not get nurtured in the proper way.  Perhaps they did not benefit from good examples in their lives.  Perhaps there was a chemical imbalance in the brain that needed relief through modern pharmaceuticals.  Perhaps we just don’t know.

This week we were ripped apart by this: Charlotte Bacon, 6. Daniel Barden, 7. Olivia Engel, 6. Josephine Gay, 7. Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6. Dylan Hockley, 6. Madeleine F. Hsu, 6. Catherine V. Hubbard, 6. Chase Kowalski, 7. Jesse Lewis, 6. James Mattioli, 6. Grace McDonnell, 7. Emilie Parker, 6. Jack Pinto, 6. Noah Pozner, 6. Caroline Previdi, 6. Jessica Rekos, 6. Avielle Richman, 6. Benjamin Wheeler, 6. Allison N. Wyatt, 6.  These are grade school children and their ages.  They are innocents.  We do not know what they would have grown up to be.  Perhaps one would grow up to find a cure for a form of cancer.  Another may have taught children to be better people.  There could have been a girl here that would be leader of the free world.  There may even have been a boy who would have mediated a peace in the Middle East.  We will never know.  Why?  We may never know because there was a boy who grew up unhappy and troubled.  Something happened  that made his emotional life spin out of control.  Before taking his own life, he robbed many families of the most precious thing they had: their children.

The horrible nightmare that fell on a late fall day in a Connecticut school will lead to many hours of debate on gun control.  How did this troubled young man get these guns?  Who sold him the ammunition?  Were the proper background checks performed?  Did he have the proper permits?  Some will listen to the rhetoric and the subtle, or not so subtle, political undertones and wonder, “are we missing the point here?”  While the debate will rage on until it fades away in talk of  the pending fiscal cliff, the college Bowl season, or New Year’s Rocking Eve, will the actual issue ever be addressed?  What was it in this man’s life that drove him to such desperate measures?

While states and the federal government contemplate budget cuts that slash funds to mental health facilities and critical medical and psychological research, should we not ask where our priorities lie?  More police and stricter laws do not necessarily lead to less crime and punishment.  We need to be less concerned about the aftermath and more concerned about prevention.  I think back to This Emotional Life and the adopted child who was not given love as a child.  Although he was only a few years old when adopted, he needed a tremendous amount of help to get past the lack of love a child needs in early development.

When we consider providing for domestic tranquility, let us carefully consider what it will take to insure that as many children as possible grow up with the love and care that they need.  Yes, I know many will come forward to claim that it is not the role of any level of government to interfere with a family or tell people how to raise children, but is it better than to wait to punish those who commit horrendous acts upon our society?  It seems that when we formed this nation we also agreed to a social contract with government.  It is one well rooted in the philosophy of such thinkers as John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  We made a deal with the government to protect and defend, to nurture and preserve our freedom.  One concept of government is to help provide a peaceful society that brings education and culture to all.  Another concept is to arm ourselves against one another and execute those who do not follow the laws.  Which society will you have?