I think of the children who will never know, intuitively, that a flower is a plant’s way of making love, or what silence sounds like, or that trees breathe out what we breathe in.
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Sy Safransky is editor and founder of The Sun.
I spied you once when you thought you were alone, when all the money-boys and patriots were off somewhere making jokes at your expense. I saw you rise from the bed and stand by the window. You were naked. You were beautiful. O America, I couldn’t turn away. You closed your eyes and shook your head as if to keep from weeping. And then, America, you started singing.
Democracy didn’t leave behind a forwarding address. Who can blame her? Maybe she just got tired of being ignored, and lied to, and slapped around.
It’s been raining all day, as remnants of the fourth hurricane to hit Florida this year sweep through the South. Some see the storms as an act of divine retribution, as if God, still irritable at the way votes were miscounted in the 2000 presidential election, had decided to hold Florida’s head underwater to make a point. I don’t find the suffering of Floridians who lost homes and loved ones amusing (though I wouldn’t have minded if God had just invited Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former Secretary of State Katherine Harris out for a little swim).
The instructions that came with this incarnation aren’t easy to decipher. One sentence can take years, even decades, to figure out — and even then I can’t be certain I’ve got it right.
When I visited New York City a year after the September 11 terrorist attack, I wasn’t sure I wanted to see Ground Zero — not after learning that it had become the city’s number-one tourist attraction.
If I pray for the light, I need to remember that light isn’t sentimental. It illuminates the smiling infant and the wormy corpse, every broken promise and every act of faith.
Back home Nimbus curls up beside Cirrus on the sofa. Norma heads out to the garden to do some weeding. I put on a fresh pot of coffee and open the Sunday newspaper. I’m still on page one when the phone rings. It’s my daughter Sara. There’s something she needs to tell me, she says, her voice a little unsteady. She pauses. It’s about Mara.
I opened my heart, and the world rushed in. But my heart wasn’t big enough to hold the world’s pain, and my heart broke. After that, I couldn’t get my heart to close again: not completely, not for long.
How odd that I still distance myself from my feelings, as if sadness itself were my enemy, a smooth-talking terrorist with one foot in the door.
I’m tired this morning after having stayed up too late last night. Apparently I still haven’t learned how to tell time. If the little hand is on the 11 or 12, and the big hand is reaching for the remote or something to eat, does this mean I have all the time in the world?
For the next war, instead of an army composed of those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, let’s start at the top. We can begin with the men and women who serve in Congress, or sit on the boards of Fortune 500 companies, or drive Humvees to the mall.