Previous month:
November 2008
Next month:
February 2009

January 2009

Traveling forward through the past

I've always been a bit disinterested in visiting places I've been to before.  With so many places undiscovered, why spend time and money to re-experience the familiar?  It is true that, when planning vacations, one ought to seek out something new.  But what about re-visiting the places we have lived, the neighborhoods that were once home?

I occasionally visit Wisconsin only because I grew up there and my family lives there.  But I lived in Colorado for 7 years and haven't been back in 9.  I lived in Seattle for 5 years, but have only just now returned.  I only came because I was already in the US for business and needed to take care of my driver's license and some bank issues which could only be resolved in person.  My expectations were low.

As my flight descended into the city that changed me....the city I had loved so much...I wondered whether my memories of the place were accurate.  I wondered whether I had only seen what I had wanted to see.  I suspected that the magic I once felt in Seattle...the ideas, the pace of life, the subversive humor, the subtle beauty, the amazing food...I wondered how much of it was real. 

Well, my first day back in Seattle was probably my best day ever in Seattle.  It took only a few minutes to realize that Seattle is, indeed, everything I remember it to be.  It is like no other place in the USA.  People here cannot help but be inspired by life itself.  Much like Manhattan, Seattle feels like an island; a place in which the outside would doesn't really matter. One needs only wake up in Seattle to be inspired to walk around the city, try the food, spend hours in Pike Place Market, go to a few art galleries, go to a club which is maybe just a bit too cool, make eye contact with independent-minded strangers, talk to anybody who is open, and listen to the sea gulls outside your hotel window.  Beauty and inspiration is so easy to find here.

I soon realized the extent to which we fail to fully appreciate the place we live.  I thought about all the things I should have done, the person I should have been when I lived here, the person I would be if I lived here once again.  That first evening in Seattle, I invited out all the friends I hadn't seen for so many years.  Amazingly, 22 people showed up.  We talked and laughed into the night.  I remember a moment when I stood back to look at these friends...good, interesting, intelligent people who I am actually quite fortunate to know...watching them talk with each other...watched old friendships being celebrated and new ones being created...and I realized that such a moment never happened when I was here.  I never made it happen.  What a pity that I have failed to fully seize the potential of my short time here.

Living in Slovakia, I have now rearranged my life in such a way that it would no longer make sense for me to return to Seattle (at least not at the moment).  In fact, I have become much more able to seize the moment since leaving the USA.  I have very little to regret about the life I have created and the person I have become.  But still, thinking about my current possibilities, thinking about my future, I know that I am still holding back.  Visiting a place I once called home, a place I will always love, has left me rejuvenated and ready to face all of the possibilities of my future.

Now it's off to Whistler, B.C. for some skiing, New York for a few nights, and back home to Slovakia.

Posted by Mark Manney.

Israeli terrorist aggression

I'm sick and tired of Israeli murder, aggression, and terrorism against the Palestinians.  How much destruction do the weak and oppressed have to endure?  How many murders do we have to be asked to justify?  How many dishonest arguments do we have to tolerate from our Zionist-controlled media? 

Here are the facts:

  • In January 2006, Hamas won a clear majority in the Palestinian election.  It was a fair, democratic election.
  • Israel immediately imposes a strict economic blockade on the Gaza strip for the simple reason that it is being governed by Hamas.  This forces the Palestinian people further into desperation and further fuels anti-Israeli sentiment.  This blockade has not let up, to this day. 
  • The two parties had agreed to a cease-fire in June of 2008 (even while Israel was secretly planning this current attack and invasion).  The economic blockade continued...shutting off food and fuel supplies to Gaza.
  • Israel did not respect the cease-fire.  For example, on November 4th, 2008, Israeli troops raided the Gaza strip and killed 6.
  • Throughout all of this, only 9 Israelis were killed by rockets fired from Gaza.
  • Israel is currently bombing Gaza and is conducting a ground invasion, killing hundreds, with no end in sight.

It is clear that Israel has actively undermined any attempt the Palestinians have made to establish their own government and own self-defense.  This isn't about those ineffective rockets which had only managed to kill 9 Israelis.  There certainly would have been more effective ways to mitigate this problem.

Israel is actively trying to keep the Palestinians weak and helpless.  Israelis have wronged Palestinians to such an extent over the years that they probably have good reason to fear the possibility that Palestinians might ever be able to defend themselves.  Of course the other motivation behind Israel's policy might also be to weaken and starve the Palestinian people to the extent that they are eventually forced to flea...perhaps to Egypt.  Israel's likely goal is ultimately to control and settle the territory, so this might be a way to clear the territory.

They can continue to line up Israeli spokespeople on all of the news channels every day to argue their position.  They can stack all of the news shows with Zionists (I happened to notice, after doing some independent research, that 5 of the 7 people who appeared on January 4th's Meet The Press are Jewish and the 2 others are married to Jewish spouses).  But they can never convince fair-minded, intelligent people around the world that justice is on the side of the Israelis.  It is quite clear who is the oppressor and who is the victim.  The Palestinian's weak and ineffective resistance is quite like a rape victim helplessly kicking and screaming.  I am insulted when I'm asked to justify the rape for the simple reason that the victim is trying to fight back. 

I am not an anti-Semite.  I have several Jewish friends (though probably fewer after this post).  It is the violent, destructive, and immoral behavior which I am against, not the race or nationality of the people behind the behavior.  It is quite simply the idea that this type of action is acceptable which I am against. 

It should also be said that what the US has done to Iraq is absolutely no different.  In fact, the US invasion of Iraq was far worse.  Iraq had never harmed an American and posed absolutely no threat to the United States.  This was very well-known in 2002 to anyone paying attention, and yet the invasion and occupation of Iraq moved forward (on a much larger scale than the current Israeli aggression). 

Maybe we should just accept that "might makes right".  We can all just agree that powerful nations can do whatever they decide to.  In that case, can we at least drop the moral arguments, the lies, and the spin?  But if we're being asked to keep justifying these horrific acts with moral arguments...well then this is mine.

Posted by Mark Manney.