Letters to the editor (8/5/20)

The heart of a veteran

The more I show the Why Can’t We Serve documentary, the more I understand the heart of a veteran. Time after time vets come up to me in private to tell me that I made a film about their lives. Most of them are emotionally moved by seeing the painful reality, as well as the inspiring possibilities, on the screen, and they thank me for caring enough to make this kind of movie. They feel safe to show their tears on occasion, but do their best to pull back from being that vulnerable. It’s hard for them because of this dilemma, and most vets struggle mightily/

My desire when creating the documentary was to help find ways to reduce the veteran suicide rate, but in the process I learned much about the heart of most vets. Vets, in addition to being seen as heroes and warriors, are complex human beings with big hearts and all kinds of pressures to hide their feelings. Vets believe that people want to see them as strong and tough from the years spent protecting our country.

But the truth is that vets are just like you and me. They are strong at times, and they are scared at other times. They feel pain like the rest of us, but do not feel okay about showing their pain. They bought the message that they must hide their feelings and always appear strong, and truthfully. Some vets have shut down emotionally, and live their lives based on only their thinking. 

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The most direct way for veterans fully to recover their connection to their hearts is to allow themselves to shed tears. They have lots to grieve about, and the shedding of tears appears to be a wonderful human cleansing process. It’s also a healing process.

It’s time that we as a society became more understanding of veterans. See them as heroes and warriors, but also see them as complex human beings, doing their best to carve out a halfway decent life for themselves.

I am a veteran and I am relaxed and accepting of my tears. Releasing tears over the years has helped me be more connected to my heart, and it has been instrumental in my healing and my growing process. I am a better person today because I learned how to be okay with my tears. 

Years ago I shifted from feeling shame about crying, to being a staunch protector of my heart and my emotions. I learned to treat my tears as precious jewels. My wish for all vets is to work toward making that shift. Your tears are jewels, but first you need to accept that you are not weak, but strong when shedding tears.
It’s time to let go of the old conditioning and reclaim your beautiful heart.

Marty Klein
Woodstock

Funding social services

The case of Robert Guarino, the Anderson Center for Autism resident arrested 14 times since April, is not proof that bail reform isn’t working, as Saugerties police chief Joe Sinagra claims. Instead, it shows that municipalities, states and the federal government have invested in law enforcement over services for people with mental illness and disabilities. 

Guarino’s multiple arrests for property damage and aggressive behavior strengthen the case for redistributing funds away from policing to services that actually address the underlying causes of many crimes — mental illness, poverty, homelessness, addiction and unemployment. We should be calling for programs that can actually keep people out of jail rather than contending that an autistic man should have been in jail after his first time breaking facility windows. 

If the Anderson Center cannot provide Mr. Guarino with the structure and services he needs, it should find a therapeutic program that can. But those therapeutic group homes and facilities are scarce, if they exist at all. Therein lies the rub. Let’s focus on our failure adequately to fund social services and safety nets rather than bemoaning bail reform. 

Christine Dinsmore
Saugerties

A good deal

In 1776, Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations which became a foundation for virtually every country’s economic system and a part of every economic and political science student’s curriculum. Smith proposed that if countries “have at it,” and create a free-market economy, they would prosper. He proved to be right. However, that free-market economy rewards the wealthy and ignores many citizens who have come to be known as “the marginalized.”

During the Great Depression, FDR created the New Deal which focused mostly on those who were hungry and out of work. Some call this “political economics.”

In 2019, Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez, a freshman representative in the US Congress, introduced a “Green New Deal” in response to the dire warnings concerning climate change. It has two parts: part one is taking dramatic steps to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius. This includes cutting fossil fuel emissions in half by 2030 and virtually eliminating them by 2050. Part 2 is to create a just-and-resilient society to minimize the pain caused by part one.

Ironically, part 2, which preceded the pandemic and the most recent racial upset, includes many of the issues that Americans have become aware of. Please google “The Green New Deal” and read the text.  It seems like a good deal to us.

Dan and Ann Guenther
New Paltz

Challenges met with creative reinvention

The challenges presented by the coronavirus inspired the organizers of the annual Saugerties Artists’ Studio Tour to reinvent the tour and to find a way to keep in touch with art lovers everywhere — especially our friends, patrons and supporters. We have taken full advantage of technology by using photography and videography to create a virtual tour that is engaging and insightful. While the tour has always been in-person with actual visits to the studios of many Saugerties artists, this year we’re taking everyone on a virtual tour through the magic of aerial photography, or as we like to say, “we’ll fly you there.” Twenty-four artists will take you on a tour of their studios that are nestled in some of the most beautiful locations throughout Saugerties. They will talk honestly about their journey to becoming an artist and how they have been affected by the desire to stay safe during the pandemic.

Viewers will meet new artists and have a chance to visit virtually with their favorite painters, sculptors, ceramic artists, photographers, print makers, collagists, digital and mixed media artists. We invite everyone to join us online to take the tour from anywhere, anytime on the tour’s website, www.saugertiesarttour.org.

Barbara Bravo
Saugerties

How not to vote

Here in New Paltz, we know politics. So that means we know tricks.  One is timing when mail gets sent, as when our BOE sent a big bright yellow postcard announcing when they were going to have a public discussion about the school budget.  It arrived in the mail the same day of the event and I read about it after dinner, too late to attend.  The yellow card also told us voting would only be by mail and the ballots would be sent.  Yup, the ballots arrived on the day they had to be postmarked, so they accommodated those of us who drive with boxes outside a couple of schools. 

 My wife is still a party member. I quit when Team Clinton f…ed up Bernie. But when she got her primary ballot in the mail, it was for the party she is not enrolled with.

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Those who watch Spectrum News may have heard anchor Kristin Shaunnesswy say on Saturday that Trump was objecting to mail-in voting, and then she ad-libbed that it was essentially the same as an absentee ballot. No, what is proposed is that every registered voter get mailed a ballot.  Why not stick with what we do know how to do: you want to vote, ask for an absentee ballot, with your reason being fear of Covid.

Paul Nathe
New Paltz

Truth not hateful

“We are, heart and soul, friends to the freedom of the press. It is however, the prostituted companion of liberty, and somehow or other, we know not how, its efficient auxiliary.” — Fisher Ames (1807)

Recent WSJ/NBC News poll shows most Americans believe we are a racist country. With the constant bombardment of the media, politicians, the sports industry and our educational institutions, I am not surprised that almost half of the country does not know better. Remember what J.K. Rowling said: Being truthful is not being hateful. 

No institution is perfect, but almost all Americans have an aversion to racism.

The popular narrative is that our police are racists and brutalize our minorities. The Washington Post has been keeping a data base of police shootings. Here’s some numbers:

Last year police killed nine unarmed blacks and 19 unarmed whites. Everyone else killed by police were armed. Last year, police made about twelve million arrests. That makes odds of getting killed unarmed pretty small. In cases where police shooting was not justified, the police were tried and convicted. The Dallas cop who shot the guy in his apartment eating ice cream, and the Carolina cop who shot the guy running away come to mind — these cops are in jail.

Then there are the armed people killed by police. Since the Wall Street Journal started tracking this in 2015, police kill about 1000 armed people each year. About a quarter of them are black. Since they make up about 13% of the population, isn’t this proof that the police are racist? 

Blacks account for about 37 percent of all violent crimes in 2018, which would indicate that they are underrepresented in police killings. If you check the FBI 2019 report, table 42, you will see that about a third of the felonious killings of police were committed by black offenders — over representing their demographic. 

Perhaps the arrests rates are higher for blacks because the police and justice system are racist. Since cops are usually called after the crime is committed, they are responding to calls where they may not know who the perpetrator is. They don’t ask the race of the criminal, then decide whether  to investigate. A National Crime Victimization Survey by the US Bureau of Justice Statistics tracks race of victims and attacker. The racial proportions of reported crimes in the survey track closely the proportions of people arrested for violent crime by race.

Last year, a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that race had no influence on the chance of being shot , and that white officers behaved no differently than non-white officers. Look up the research by Roland Fryer, an economist at Harvard, of the 1332 shootings by ten big-city police forces. He found no evidence of bias. This black Harvard professor was surprised by his own research, since this was not what was reported by the biased media.

I hope this country can get back to a point where people are judged by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin.

Tom McGee
Gardiner

Silence is golden

Whoever invents the silent lawnmower should receive the Nobel Prize.

Sparrow
Phoenicia

Visual pollution 

At a Woodstock town board meeting, councilman [Richard] Heppner complained about the fact that the blockades preventing access to the Big and Little Deep were “pretty pathetic,” especially since Woodstock is considered the Colony of the Arts. After hearing Heppner’s complaint, [town supervisor Bill] McKenna responded that the police department who did that out of frustration. “We started with a couple of signs that people ignored, then we added a few more signs that were still ignored, and then we added a few more signs, and then they put up the caution tape.”

Was councilman Heppner’s complaint referring only to the caution tape that was in place or was it the plethora of signs, the 55-gallon drums and the other items blocking the entrances? Who initiated installing this conglomeration of articles to blockade the entrances, and why, when the decision was made to prevent access, wasn’t it done in a more, aesthetic manner such as simply erecting a fence?

As of this writing, the “pretty pathetic” conditions still exist at both sites.

Howard Harris
Woodstock

Worried about heating bills?

If recent months have taught me one thing, it is that if we think like a community we can achieve some amazing results. Thinking like a community is what brought about the Mid-Hudson Fuel Buying Co-op seven years ago. Frustrated at the cost of heating her home in the winter, a transplant from California was inspired by the Transition Town movement to find a better way. Starting with just one friend she negotiated a cheaper price for a buying group of two.

Last year, the co-op had around 1000 household members, not only in Ulster County, where it started, but also in Dutchess, Orange, Greene, Sullivan and Columbia counties. Managed by five unpaid independent volunteers without ties to any fuel supply company, the co-op charges $15 for annual membership, which pays for the online sign-up systems and for staffing of the co-op’s busy phone line. The fee entitles members to discounted fuel prices, discounts on service plans, equipment, and more, as negotiated by the volunteers with specific suppliers each year. 

This year, the co-op offers two options for home heating oil, a flat rate of 1.949/gallon for the season (from date of contract through May 31, 2021) or a variable rate based on the previous day’s NYMEX settlement price plus 55 cents. For example, if you bought fuel oil on July 28, 2020, based on the variable rate, you would have paid $1.80/gallon. This compares to the average price for the region that week, as computed by Nyserda (NYS Energy Research & Development Authority) of $2.15/gallon. 

Propane users who use over 400 gallons in the season will pay $1.44/gallon and the smaller users will pay $1.65/gallon. These compare to Nyserda’s current average price for the region of $2.73/gallon. 

Since the co-op functions as a not-for-profit organization, it relies on word of mouth, neighbors telling neighbors. I know it has helped countless families and individuals over the years, but the deadline for joining to get next winter’s prices is August 15. Time is running out. If you are worried about heating bills this winter, take a look at http://midhudsonfuelbuyingcoop.org/

Gai Galitzine
Kingston 

A farewell from WAAM

I arrived in Woodstock in late September 2015 to assume the position of executive director at the Woodstock Artists Association & Museum. Arriving as a newcomer to a small town and assuming leadership of an almost hundred-year-old organization certainly provided room for some trepidation. I could not have anticipated the warm welcome that I received, the many and valued friendships that I developed and the work that I would achieve at WAAM. 

The position at WAAM brought both anticipated and unexpected organizational challenges that I faced responsibly and creatively. I am proud of the work that I accomplished during my tenure. I am especially grateful to my staff, both present and past, and our creative efforts together. We improved the profile of the organization, grew its membership, generated new revenue streams, expanded exhibitions and programming, increased awareness of the permanent collection, archives and education program, celebrated its centennial, and positioned the organization for continued growth and sustainability. 

I am grateful to so many in the community who supported me during my tenure and for the recognition of my work from colleagues who I greatly admire. It is so meaningful to have your vision and efforts recognized, supported and appreciated. 

There are board members that I worked with during the past five years for whom I am particularly grateful for their encouragement, counsel and support, chief among them is Leonard Levitan (long-time board member and former board chair). It is my great disappointment that due to Covid 19 we had to cancel this year’s Beaux Arts Bash, which would have honored Leonard as this year’s well-deserved honoree. 

We are living in a time of dramatic shifts and the rise of new voices, all offering an opportunity to make better choices and to be our best selves. I see this new place that we find ourselves in as an exceptional moment, one that I wish to confront with excitement, intelligence, awareness, sensitivity and optimism. 

I am leaving Woodstock for the time being to pause and to spend time with my daughter in Connecticut as I consider my next steps. I will miss these magnificent mountains and the beautiful creatures that live among them. I will miss the warmth of the many dear friendships that I was fortunate to make during these past five years. And I will miss all that truly makes Woodstock such a unique community. 

Thank you, Woodstock, for welcoming me and for all that you gave me. 

Janice La Motta
Willow

Support the railroad

Ulster County is in a precarious financial situation due to Covid 19. The county predicts a $34.2-million budgetary shortfall this year. Local businesses are essential for a recovering economy.

The Catskill Mountain Railroad has had dramatic success as a tourist railroad in recent years and has been a significant source of revenue for Ulster County. In 2019, its ridership was up nine percent to 41,115 passengers. Its revenues were up four percent to $1,490,000.

Last year, CMRR purchased nearly $500,000 in goods from Ulster County businesses. It invested $250,000 in rehabilitating county-owned railroad tracks and paid $50,000 in rent to Ulster County. CMRR’s annual payroll increased to over $379,000, and it paid $29,000 in payroll taxes. CMRR estimates its total economic impact for the year 2019 in Ulster County was over five million dollars.

In order to grow and be an enduring tourist attraction, CMRR needs a renewal of its five-year permit and an extension of 1.68 miles of track from Route 28A in Stony Hollow to Basin Road in Hurley. This additional track will allow passengers from Kingston to disembark close to the trailhead of the Ashokan rail-trail and to enjoy a scenic destination.

The Catskill Mountain Railroad estimates it will cost about $300,000 to complete renovations on the existing track in this section and will take two years to complete. All costs will be paid by CMRR without local taxpayer funds.

This area in the right-of-way of the former Ulster and Delaware Railroad was professionally studied five years ago, and its future was left to be determined. The winning decision now would be for rail and trail to share this short distance and to move forward together.

Hurley’s town board has unanimously approved a resolution supporting the extension of the Catskill Mountain Railroad’s permit to Basin Road. It would be in the best interest of Ulster County for the county legislature to do the same. 

Meg Carey
Glenford

Big tech 

The good and the bad and the awaiting ugly? Oh, no! What about the “technology is neutral” belief? Technology is now implicated on one hand for our woes, while on the other hand and at the same time we find that technology is a useful tool for improving our standard of living. “Curiouser and curiouser!,” cries humankind.

Okay, next issue (sarcasm intended)

Neil Jarmel
West Hurley

Fact versus opinion

Fact: The Trump administration was pushing for a payroll tax cut, but the GOP senators, at last showing some spine, revolted against this. So, he pulled this off the table for negotiations regarding a stimulus payment.

Opinion: well, boys and girls of the ages 65-95 years of age, just why did Donald do this? Because the payroll tax comes out of Social Security and Medicare!! ‘Well, how do you do?’ Our illustrious senators go back to the communities that elected them and then face the wrath of the seniors demanding why they supported Trump’s payroll tax. 

Well, whoop to do and let’s all hold hands and sing, sing, sing? Guess what, boys and girls? The senators all bend to Donald’s demands, but when the proof is in the pudding, our boys, rather than obey Donald, faced with the prospect of losing their senatorial seats, opted for the safest course of staying in office and standing up to Donald. What a bunch of stalwart men once they realized they might be on the bread line? Way to go, guys. This action makes me doubly glad I left the GOP and joined the Democrats after 60 years. The Trump administration will continually pick away at our benefits as he does the Affordable Care Act. He mentioned this in his campaign address where he calls for “the deconstruction of the administrative system.”

I have been hammering away for almost four years about the dangers this man can wreak upon our country, specifically what he can do to the seniors who depend upon this monthly Social Security check. I have stated time and again, the GOP hates Roosevelt’s New Deal Social Security and a host of other laws pushed through by his administration.

The Times Herald-Record, July 22, just recently had an editorial I will quote: “… Our electoral college has succeeded throughout our storied history, warts and all. If we were to bypass or abolish the electoral college, our nation would indeed be devoured by mob rule. The more populated states such as California and New York would eventually control the presidency, eclipsing the voices of millions of Americans living in the heartland.”

Amen to that statement. If the presidency was to be dependent upon the popular vote, the most populated states would control the presidency and millions of persons living in the Dakotas, Utah, Montana, Wisconsin, etc., would be denied any say-so in the election of the presidency. And, we would indeed have a president elected by liberal, socialistic, big-government persons!

Our Founding Fathers knew what they were doing and included the electoral college as part and parcel of our constitution. Also, our constitution is ideas placed down upon paper. It is not cast in stone or steel but paper and the ideas and principles for living by them are dependent upon the men and women of Congress, particularly the executive branch of the government, the presidency. The man, and eventually the woman, in the presidency, is the guiding light, the force, the spirit inculcated from this constitution that sets the moral and legalistic tone for the rest of the country to live by. It is a fragile document that must be uppermost in the minds of the Congress, particularly the man or woman in the Oval Office.

A democracy never lasts long, it usually tears itself apart. Even the great Greek empire eventually shot itself in the foot. So, when all you stalwart Trump persons start singing the praises of Donald, keep in mind he is a man who never did anything for his country, an inexperienced individual who never held elected office, never served his country in the military, whose sole purpose is to break our government down, as mentioned in previous letters: the deconstruction of the administrative system.
For what purpose?

Robert LaPolt
New Paltz

Love America more
President Donald Trump ignored Russian bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan. He called it fake news and would not even investigate. Now he is pulling 12,000 troops out of Germany despite having spent billions to upgrade their bases and will have to spend more on the new ones. They are being removed because Germany spends too little maintaining their own standing army. But the destination countries spend even less.

Many current military leaders have objected that weakening NATO serves no purpose but pleases Russia. Germany is the ideal location for defending Europe because it is central and has excellent transportation to anywhere in Europe.

Among his other problems, Trump is too sanguine about Russian aggression which endangers our national security. Trump is not making America great again, and there are too many things amiss to think he will do so with four more years.

It could seem reasonable to take down those Trump signs and reconsider your vote. We all make mistakes, and loyalty is a fine trait, but it can go too far. If you still love Trump, love America more. We need a change to save ourselves, and he is not leading the way.

Hal Chorny
Gardiner

Killing our own citizens
Just one more reminder of how inadequate our system is the headline,: “Much of the Protective Gear FEMA Sent Nursing Homes is Just Useless.” This New York Times article would be high comedic if it appeared in a publication like The Onion. But the lunacy of our broken society eliminates any possibility of satire.

With just four percent of the population, the world’s richest country now accounts for 23 percent of the world’s Covid deaths. Non-existent planning, cronyism, attacks on public- health scientists, and pure ignorance at the top has made us number one in the killing of our own citizens. 

Neoliberalism isn’t just a Trump problem. The concept of a minimalist government has been with us since the Reagan era. The idea of there even being a “public good” seems incomprehensible to our governmental leaders, awash in corporate money and toasted by their armies of corporate lobbyists. 

We can’t have things that every other developed country has implemented long ago, like a public health system, free college education, daycare facilities and nursing homes. The big lobby groups like the weapons makers, pharmaceuticals, oil companies and insurance firms are so good at sucking up our money that there is simply nothing left. And the people who own these behemoth business are riding a wave of wealth that is simply beyond our comprehension. 

There is another wave, and this one is in the streets. We demand an end to racism, exploitation and the rule of the very rich with their blue-coated minions. 

Fred Nagel
Rhinebeck

Remembering Elizabeth Mowry

During the Woodstock School of Art’s long history, I’ve had the privilege of knowing every instructor who taught here for most of the past five decades. Elizabeth Mowry, honored later with initials after her name, like PSA (Pastel Society of America), MP (Master Pastelist), HFH (Hall of Fame Honoree), and more, was simply our friend Elizabeth, a native of Kingston, daughter of a tailor who collected antiques, a woman who loved beautiful things and painted landscapes with pastels.

Elizabeth often worked directly outdoors, as well as in her Stone Ridge studio. I remember a series of pastels she produced, painted from significant vantages along the Hudson River, starting from a humble rivulet at Lake Tear of the Clouds, south to New York Harbor. She taught at the WSA for over 15 years and also served on the board of directors. We played ping-pong weekly with friends for many years.
I observed Elizabeth’s dedication to the craft, and how her students admired her commitment to them, and flocked to her classes. She published five books on pastel and exhibited widely — abroad in France, Italy, Russia, Japan, in China — and throughout the United States. She taught workshops in many near and distant places, including Monet’s garden at Giverny. The French pastel company Girault invited her to design a set of pastels marketed as the Mowry Poetic Landscape Set.

Although she moved to Colorado in 2007. Elizabeth returned to the WSA frequently, teaching her final workshop in 2017. The following year she was present to receive our gratitude at a luncheon in her honor in Studio Two. She distinguished herself in the studio that day with the grace with which we always knew her, and remember today.

Paula Nelson
Former president
WSA board of directors
Woodstock

American nightmare

In the wild, wild West of yesteryear, there were outlaws. Based on their crimes of robbery — armed and unarmed — kidnapping and murder, they were called outlaws because they were outside the law.

Today, in the wild world of Washington, DC, once again we have outlaws. Only we don’t call them outlaws now, even when they commit the major crimes of kidnapping children, assaulting and arresting peaceful protestors, robbery and murder, and trampling all over our constitutional rights. Instead, we say they are “not above the law.”

Indeed — actually, in deeds — it is not a matter of their being above or below the law. They are outside the law. And so, they are outlaws to be guarded and regarded and prosecuted as outlaws. And also prosecuted as traitors for breaking and entering, looting, trampling all over our constitutional rights and destroying The American dream until all that is left is an American nghtmare.

Bruce Grund
Kingston

Lack of leadership
Covid 19 infections in the United States were 4,414,600 as of July 29, 2020. Covid 19 deaths in the United States is over 150,000 and  counting.

All of this happening on president Trump’s watch. He may not be responsible for Covid -19, but he has done nothing to lead the country out of this crisis. Republicans: all of this is happening “on his watch.”

Robert Brunet
New Paltz

Home care workforce shortage

Over 6400 long-term-care nursing-home residents in New York have died of Covid 19. The pandemic has made it clear that we must ensure an alternative to nursing homes for our loved ones — and for ourselves in the future. Home-care work allows the elderly and disabled to live safely in their own homes. We need a massive investment in the home-care sector, which has been chronically and severely neglected. 

Hand-in-Hand, a national nonprofit advocacy organization for domestic workers, recently released a report titled “Essential but Undervalued: Understanding the Home Care Workforce Shortage in the Hudson Valley. The report, authored by Isaac Jabola-Carolus of CUNY’s Graduate Center, details how chronically low-wages and lack of benefits are the main reasons the workforce is shrinking. In the Hudson Valley, the average home care worker makes $18,500 a year. Annually, over 5100 workers leave the occupation. In the Hudson Valley alone, there will be more than 64,000 job openings by 2026. 

We are in an escalating crisis. We must invest in the home-care workforce, with fair pay and benefits, and protect key sources of state funding for home care companies. A Home Care Jobs Innovation Fund would be dedicated to innovative pilot projects to improve recruitment and retention of care workers. 

I’m a nurse. I’ve watched people age and take their last breath in their own homes. My job would have been impossible without a care worker being there. Their work is invaluable, and investing in it is the moral and the responsible thing to do to keep communities healthy. The pandemic has made it clear that this needs to happen in the safety and comfort of people’s own homes.

Margarita Asiain
Saugerties

I feel better now

The House Judiciary Committee’s hearing, featuring attorney general Bill Bar has inspired the following parody of Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row” titled “The truth just has to go” … I Feel Better Now.

They’re selling postcards of the hearing
Old Jerry Nadler’s feeling down
He thought his latest committee’s hearing
would drive old Bill Barr out of town
All the Dems they seemed so angry
as the inquisition got under way
they all made accusing statements
but never let Bill Barr have his say
and some minds were filled with great fear
as they watched Nadler’s horror show
For the show it made it very clear
Dems thought the truth just has to go

Now Bret Kavanaugh he sounded weary
as he called his lovely wife
he remembered his own great battle
and how bold lies almost ruined his life
He said the prize goes not to the swift
even though they … move so fast
it goes to the one who’s … truthful
for the truth it will always … last
And Christine Ford says: “I watched Barr’s hearing
and there’s something that I sure … do know
that kangaroo hearing made it very clear
Dems still think the truth just has to go,”

Yes, I received your message yesterday
about how the country is so full of strife
You said a country divided against itself
will be a country with a short … shelf life
All those Democrats that you mentioned
Yes, I know them all … by name
If you rearranged all their faces
they would still … all …sound … the same
right now, I don’t feel so good
don’t send me no more messages .. .no,
not unless the messages say the country’s lost
if we don’t demand that truth must grow,

George Civile
Gardiner

Covid awakenings

My life anchors have been pulled up by rough seas of the Covid pandemic. I feel my inner world sloshing between peaks and valleys of emotional waves. The fragility of my life becomes apparent to me when I consider the reality of my age, my medical conditions, and the self within me screaming to “hunker down” in order to survive. 

The contrast I am living between being able to eat well, get what I need through the mail, and the beauty of the weather make me feel like I am standing is a unlikely battlefield. No rumble of guns, no planes flying overhead, no bunkers to run into. Yet, I know death is using the virus to taken of thousands of lives. Covid sees me as its prey. The virus is not my enemy, but I am prey for its survival. 

The cacophony of TV voices reporting Covid deaths competes for headlines with the news of political leaders manipulating the body politic to ignore the science.

How can a single soul navigate these times, I ask myself?
“If I have to distance from my friends, can I befriend the self in me demanding to hibernate? 

“Is looking to the government the wrong direction for finding hope?” 

“Is joy possible in such difficult and frightening times?” 

From the dawn of my young adult life, a faint whisper has reached me saying, “You survived death before, no reason you can’t do it again. You made it through an unjust war, where many wanted to kill you. You came home, made a life and found love again. You took on a job where you worked helping the mentally ill and suicidal. You found helping to save lives was a way to balance the killings you supported during the unjust war in Vietnam. You learned healing and meaning in helping others finding their will to live. You even once said it was recompense for what you did and didn’t do in the war.”

In my work as a therapist, I learned that everyone alive has stories that hold valuable tools for navigating difficult times. In these challenging times, look into your personal history, where you will find the skills you used to survive. No one is empty-handed. Look in your chest, you may have put these in your heart to rest. 

What all of us need to survive is truth, trust, kindness and love. Each one of these qualities is double-sided. When I have offered help to others, at the same time I feel strength to heal myself. 

As I crawl out on the deck of my life trying to lower my anchors to destabilize my life, I work at remembering the sea will calm, the sun will break through the clouds, and I’ve seen hope still shining bright in the eyes of my neighbor’s children.

Larry Winters
New Paltz