Money doesn’t talk. It shouts, yells, bangs around, and forces you to hear only what it has to say. There are 13 men running for Mayor of New York City, but only 3 of them are discussed by the news media or reported on the front pages of our newspapers. Of the three, one is backed by the Democratic Party, one by the Republican Party, and the third by the Liberal Party. Oh that third guy has lots of his own money. The rest of the field seems to be utterly unimportant to our news media. But one among them just might be the right man for the job. Guess we’ll never know.
It was the dinner hour of September 2, 1944, in Daytona Beach, Florida, USA. It wasn’t a happy beach resort then, but an Army post. And my mother wasn’t lying in a hospital, but in a bed of a convalescent home converted into an Army infirmary. My father, an Army doctor about 2 years past his internship, was worried: it had been only 7 months since I had been conceived and the place wasn’t set up for difficult or dangerous births. Nonetheless, I arrived–a little thing weighing 4 pounds, 4 ounces. I was placed in an incubator, the only capability of which was to keep me warm. But I had 24-hour care by male soldier nurses and parents who really wanted me to make it. And make it I did!
This is all I know about my birth. Oh, I was wanted in that both parents wanted children but, did they want a boy or a girl? Did they meet this little blond, hazel-eyed package and feel glad? sad? something in between? I just don’t know because they never talked about it. I was their first born, although not their first pregnancy. My mother had difficult pregnancies and lost several. This is all she said about the subject, but I am certain it was a sadness for her; my father never talked about it at all. There are photos of me, dressed in frilly, girly dresses with ribbons in my hair. My mother loved to dress me up and fix my hair in complicated curls and braids. It was an expression of motherly love, an expression about as demonstrative as she could be.
It is my intention to use this blog space as a way to talk through my thoughts. I do not plan to organize my posts in any way, just to discuss matters that are on my mind as they come. Memories, musings, problems, observations…. If you find any of this interesting, well and good. But know that I am not looking for confirmation, for supporters, for argument or commendation. Just a clearing, a ramble through my nearly 70 years.
When I was born, World War II was still raging in Europe and Asia and belts were tight and citizens weary at home. I suppose that the arrival of a new life was a celebration of the positive, of the future and what good it might promise, but I don’t know that for a fact. My parents never spoke to me about what war meant to them or of what they expected the world’s future to look like. Perhaps they, like so many, were simply shocked by what mankind was able to do.
I imagine that few if any of the parents of babies born in 1944 would imagine that this war would result in continuing political violence around the globe. From my current perspective, 69 years later, I see war as the background color of my life. My country and, therefore, I have been involved in that large scale taking of life–human and otherwise–almost continuously since then. WWII. Korea. Vietnam. Grenada. Panama. Nicaragua. The Persian Gulf. Iraq. Afghanistan. Added to this list of destruction are the “covert actions” that have included the overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh of Iran and Salvador Allende of Chile, both of which led to the establishment of brutal regimes in their countries. No wonder I have been a pacifist, a firm believer in the weakness of violence and the strength of peace.
Whoa! Wait a minute! How did I go from war to peace? How did I turn out to be a Peace Corps Volunteer instead of a soldier? How did I become a non-violent anti-war civil-rights activist, a vegetarian Buddhist who abhors guns and any other means to be violent and hurtful? I don’t really know. All I can say is that I have been on the pacifist side of the fence for as long as I can remember. Was it the cruelties of other children or the horrors of the Holocaust so often recounted by my Jewish family? Was it being called a “kike” and having to duck stones thrown at me on my home from public school? Oh, maybe it was the salute to the American flag at school every day, the “all men are created equal” of the Declaration of Independence, the idea that life is “sacred.” Or, something deeper, an in-born, fabric-of-my-being knowledge that love and kindness and cooperation are the true characteristics of human life.