The News

The Hartford Courant
I canceled the newspaper while I was on vacation. I was going to discontinue it indefinitely then I thought of getting it Thursday through Sunday, which is what I think I told them on the phone. I also said I wanted to wait until September. So the paper arrived, yesterday – on Sunday, in July. I was happy to see it in the box. This morning I heard the car come to a stall at 5 A.M. -the time the newspaper arrives. Wait a minute! -it’s Monday. It’s not supposed to come until Thursday, in September. Like yesterday I was happy to make my ritual walk to the end of the driveway and sit down and read the paper. Here is what I found newsworthy:

From the Hartford Courant. (I’ll save my critique of this paper for later)

RELIGIOUS SCHOLARS BRIDGE THE GAP For the first time rabbinical students from the Theological Seminary in New York City are attending the Hartford Seminary. The seminary offers classes to Jewish, Muslim and Christian students with the hopes of fomenting better understanding among the three religions. -A good idea as long as religion is around.

YOGA ON THE FARMINGTON RIVER Yoga classes are being offered on the Farmington River. The picture shows pupils holding poses on a paddleboard on the water to test their balance. -Not sure if I am up to this one!

EXIT POLLS PUT PRI BACK ON TOP Mexican elections are pretty much over and the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional) is back in power after 12 years out of the spotlight. The new president is Enrique Pena Nieto. They are hoping to stimulate the economy and put the drug war to an end. More than 50,000 lives have been lost in six years. According to the article the drug cartels supply cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine to users in the United States. -One would think the wall would keep the drugs out.

HEALTH CARE LAW RULING SPARKS TV WAR OF WORDS The Democrats are happy about the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of ObamaCare but they don’t like the tax mandate. Overall, conservatives and Republicans are disappointed with the decision and if Romney is elected they will repeal the law. However polls show there is an increased approval of the healthcare reform by more and more conservatives – the percentage jumped from 43% to 47%. Nancy Pelosi questioned the ethics of Republicans wanting to repeal a law which will help children, young adults, men and women and seniors with needed health care. -Dah!

ROBERT’S HEALTH CARE RULING LONG-TERM WIN by George Will You will have to read this one on your own. He seems to be in favor of the decision. -Will usually presents an interesting argument, even if he is conservative.

So, it is good my newspaper showed up today and yesterday. What happens tomorrow? Now it’s back to reading the comics!

Oh, one last thing! – Spain won (4-0) the EURO 2012 championship against Italy. -What will they call this championship when the euro is defunct?

Stay tuned…

just let things be

There is nothing like summer theatre and “The Odd Couple”, by Neil Simon, to take our minds off pending summer projects and step into another reality.

In this hilarious comedy, type A personality, Felix Unger, is booted out of the house by his wife Frances.  To his good fortune, Oscar Madison, his slovenly poker playing friend, takes him under his wing. After living together for a short time as divorcees, Oscar and Felix discover they are extreme incompatible opposites.  What happens in the “Odd Couple” is that Felix, a neatnik, can’t stand to see anything out of its place and begins to drive Oscar nuts with all his nitpicking ways.

We soon realize that the result is not more order but chaos when Felix’s compulsive behavior is imposed upon Oscar’s happy go lucky nature. Oscar is virtually going insane and Felix once again finds himself out on the street only to be taken in by the British Pigeon sisters.  Once Felix leaves, peace and harmony are ironically restored to Oscar’s life and “order” becomes a matter of opinion.  

“The Odd Couple” appeals to us in so many ways.  Set in New York City, it perfectly mirrors reality and our own foibles. This wonderfully enjoyable play can teach us to strike a balance and live sanely with others, or at best, just let things be.

Now for the the summer projects…

 

Remembering War

This Memorial Day weekend the trials and tribulations of war veterans are very much on our minds.  On Memorial Day we commemorate the soldiers that have fought in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and the wars following World War I. Our history lessons have clearly underlined the patriotic importance of the Revolutionary War. We know that the Civil War was fought to free the slaves, although we are also aware there were economic reasons for this war as well.  There are World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and some I have forgotten such as the Spanish American and Mexican American wars.  We are certainly not at a loss for wars. Each war took place for a reason. Hardly anyone questions the justification for World War II or better known as the “Good War”.  In contrast, the Vietnam War is a blemish on the records of the American history books.  We don’t really understand the reason we were even there, but there must have been one.  It was a brutal war, as they all are, and young men were subjected to horrible methods of guerrilla warfare in the jungles, for which they were totally unprepared.  To make matters worse our veterans returned home and were hardly recognized for their service.  When they got off the boats or planes there were no salutes, no fanfare.

Getting back to our Latin foes, I wonder how many teachers and students know in our schools today why the Spanish American and Mexican American Wars were fought.  It’s hard to believe the United States had a war against Spain.  That’s incredible!  Good old Spain!  How could we possibly have fought a war with Spain?  From what I understand we were helping the Cubans get independence. At the same time it was a convenient way for the United States to buy Puerto Rico from Spain after the war.  A purchase we would soon live to regret.  No one imagined the Puerto Ricans would flood Manhattan and the Bronx causing more racial tensions and social and tax problems for white American citizens. Then there is the Mexican American War, justified or unjustified, depending on which side of the Rio Grande you stand, or the “Wall” so gallantly built by the Bush Administration. Today we have a war in Iraq and Afghanistan, a war against the Taliban.  These are wars in which we are no longer fighting against one country but against terrorists spread out all over the world.  Every night on the “News Hour” they flash the young men and women who have lost their lives in Afghanistan.   The numbers just keep growing while the reasons are less and less clear.

As I look back in time I really doubt if the benefits reaped from these wars outweigh the loss of lives. How we can morally accept the black and white point of view taken on the fatalities of war? When it is an American life it is tragic, and yes, indeed it is!  Yet when it is the life of the enemy, it is O.K, because without the loss of life of the enemy we would not win the war. For the soldier it is a matter of life or death.  As Baumer, the main character of All Quiet on the Western Front says; “It is not against men that we fling our bombs…when Death is hunting us down. ‘we can destroy and kill, to save ourselves, and to be revenged’. Baumer clearly shows how the black and white view is a fallacy when he talks about the French and German soldiers: “almost all of us are simple folk.  And in France too, the majority of men are labourers, workmen, or poor clerks.  Now just why would a French blacksmith or a French shoemaker want to attack us?  No it is merely the rulers.”  To which his friend Tjaden asks:  “Then what exactly is the war for?”  This is really truly the question?  Why do we have all these wars?  If war has been inevitable, then maybe on Memorial Day we should be remembering the fallen young people who lost their youth and their lives all over the world throughout time, be they Japanese, German, Spanish, Mexican, Vietnamese, Afghan, Iraqi, and yes, I hesitate to say it, a Taliban soldier.  If we remember the injustices of war, on both sides, and all the lives that have been lost, maybe we will find a way to put an end to the madness.

A Story About Love

Everyone wants to know about love.  What is love?  Why aren’t we loved?  Why do we fall in love and how can that person possibly love him or her?  Why didn’t I come first?  These are questions, which Chekhov raises in his story “About Love”. “About Love”, is an alluring story within a story by Anton Chekhov.  On a wet rainy evening, when all there is to do is tell stories, Ivan Ivanich and Burkin gather together and listen to their friend, Alekhin, the country farmer, tell about the time he fell in love.  Alekhin describes how he befriended Luganovich, an important, well-to-do gentleman, and his wife Anna of the village Sofino.  The first time he is invited to their home for dinner Alekhin is impressed by the grace, beauty and intellect of Anna who is 22 years old and has one child by her husband.  That summer while working on his farm, the memory of Anna remains etched on his mind. After the summer Alekhin returns to the married couple’s home and subtly informs Anna that she has made a profound impression on him.  Her feelings are mutual. Alekhin returns many times to the home and becomes close friends with Anna and her husband.  The couple is so faithful to their friend, that they give him many presents.  When Alekhin’s estate is not producing and he goes further and further into debt, the couple even offers him loans to lift his financial burden. As time passes Anna continues to bear the children of her husband while her and Alekhin’s love for each other deepens. There is no demonstrative show of their love, however they do attend the theater together on a regular basis.  Sitting beside each other at the theater and sharing the ‘opera glass’ are the only forms of physical closeness they have with each other.  Naturally the coming and going to the theater attracts the wonder of the public and it becomes so usual that everyone in the village probably knows deep down what is going on. A few years go by in this way.  Alekhin and Anna, although satisfied to spend time together, are very unhappy that the pressures of society prevent them from being openly in love. In there own way they become melancholic. In their mutual silence, they know that they cannot have each other completely.  Anna becomes progressively distraught and saddened knowing she has lived a married life to someone she does not love.  She unfortunately acquires an illness, which forces her to go to a place to be taken care of.  Her husband and children also move out of the home and the entire family leaves the village. After everyone has said good-bye, Anna is in the compartment alone waiting for the train to leave. Alekhin sees she has left a package behind, so he picks it up, goes to her on the train, and gives it to her.  They are both very sad because they know it is the last time they will see each other. Chekhov, through Alekhin, questions “How love is born”.  “So far only one incontestable truth has been uttered about love: ‘This is a great mystery.’”  Alekhin regrets while parting ways with Anna all that has prevented them from loving: He thinks to himself, “ I understood that when you love you must either in your reasonings about that love, start from what is highest, from what is more important than happiness or unhappiness, sin or virtue in their accepted meaning, or you must not reason at all.” Chekhov, in his mastery for description of complex human relationships, poses questions in 1898, which continue to perplex us 100 plus years later in the 21st century. Love and happiness are two aspects of life he explores.  As we search for answers about love, Alekhin says:  “Everything else that has been written or said about love is not a conclusion, but only a statement of questions which have remained unanswered.”   I believe, if one has ever been secretly or openly in love, in one way or another, that this story will bring tears to their eyes.