by Joe Shea
American Reporter Editor-in-Chief
January 20, 2009
A PROMISE DELIVERED UPON
BRADENTON, Jan. 18, 2009 -- I'm uncomfortable with hate.
I don't hate the Yankees or the Mets, the Lions or the Packers, the Lightning or the Bruins, the Celtics or the Lakers or the Heat. I once hated Roy Cohn, instinctually, but he died. I don't hate President Bush or Bernard Madoff or the people at GM and Ford. I don't even hate Osama Bin Laden or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
I don't hate bankers, although I have very strong distaste for credit card customer service policies, but they don't live and breathe. I do hate turnips, but that's about it. I even have a relatively high regard for politicians.
I can't look at a man and not see who he is more than what he is. I would have found common ground with Idi Amin. If I was a German in World War II and naively didn't know what Adolf Hitler was doing to the Jews as I looked at him, I probably wouldn't have hated him without knowing of his foul deeds. I don't like Bibi Netanyahu's politics but I would welcome his company over a cup of coffee. I would have liked Yasir Arafat on a personal level. I don't know; it just seems like God made me that way.
Most people seem to have no trouble hating someone. You don't have to tease it out of them most of the time - it's right there, near the surface, and it just takes the slightest spark to set it off. They hate smokers and tellers and Green Bay Packers and that guy on the radio and Democrats and conservatives. They hate cops and politicos and surveys and phone calls and tv ads. They hate Barack and McCain and - gosh, it just goes on and on. It's like tapping a deep underground well. It comes slowly rising up and then it never ends, the flow of venom. I can't say anything but, yeah, oh really. I can't say me, too. I can't hate anything, I would even eat a turnip if I had to.
For those of you with a strong set of likes and dislike, let me tell you that I do love a lot of things, almost all of them people. I love the depth of them, the things that make them different from any other person. i can't put them into categories except religious ones - why I can do that and can't concentrate on their race, I don't know. I'm always curious about a person's inner relationship with God, which after all is the point of religion. That doesn't mean that I can't get mad at people for one thing or another, but I cannot hate them. They live and breathe and walk around just like me. They are life encapsulated in another shell, and the life they have and the life I have - the life force - are just the same. It's hard to hate the part of yourself that lives, in you or anyone.
What brings all this to mind these extraordinary days is my own search for meaning. I am conversant with God on a regular basis. He's as real to me as the guy next door - actually, there is no one next door, but if there was. I pray for a lot of things - that my car won't break down, that my wife will come back, that my next HHO event will go well, that the guy I just heard on Israeli television will find peace. I pray for the people inside ambulances as they go screaming by. I pray for the families of the murdered, and for the dead. I pray for just about everything, even the beauty of clouds and trees and days God has made. I see a need, I pray right then and there. I cross myself, talk to God, and go about my business hoping He'll go about His. He does.
So right now the Bank of America - my bank - and Citigroup, a really big bank, are in some kind of deep trouble. The government gave B of A $20 billion last week because they suffered an $8-billion loss and their stock was tanking. Where would I put my money if B of A went under?
Who would charge me huge interest rates and perpetuate a small loan forever if it weren't for Citigroup? But that's just part of it. Here in Sarasota, a few miles away, a big charity society-type guy named Arthur Nadel took $350 million of other people's money and disappeared. He's probably with Vesco's ghost somewhere in Cuba, Costa Rica or Colombia, one of those C places. And Bernard Madoff made off with $50 billion of smart money.
Very, very smart - it's like the fast-gun saying from the Old West, "No matter how smart you are, there's someone smarter." The papers here are just teeming with foreclosure notices. There are more than 100 a week right here in little old Manatee County, which relative to Miami and Jacksonville and Tampa is the middle of nowhere in a state that is kind of nowhere, but warm.
There's the joblessness. It's already over 7 percent and it may get to 10 percent. My father was never out of work in his life more than two weeks because he had a wife and kids to raise. Unemployment? What could you do back then with a check for $5? Well, you could feed everybody for a few days, but not anymore. Now you can eat. That's it. I saw in the St. Petersburg Times stock listings Sunday morning that every single one of the top 500 mutual funds lost money last week - every single one of them, which is like losing when you've gone to the track and bet on every horse in the race.
Then there's global warming and global cooling. Let me give you the psychic skinny on that: I dreamed I was reading a poem and suddenly I saw a herd of mastodons guarded by a blind man, all in a row (and my lover hiding behind the herdsman). I knew they presaged powerful change, and read my best poem at them. The poem burned up in my hands. From the dream, I wrote a real poem: I see the future come/in ice and massive bones/ and howl a rage so black/ it drives the future back/ to blackened stones. It's really an Ice Age that awaits us. That's a problem.
There's the whole earth upheaval thing. The quickening pace of tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions - I had a dream a couple of years ago about the earthquake that's coming at Yellowstone, and believe me, that's a nasty one. Famines are coming, if not here. The best investment in the world over the next 25 years is water, because we're running out. God will take care of population pressure at a certain point; don't worry about it.
As much as the liberals do seem to like it, God actually has some strong feelings about preventing births. He likes babies. I notice there aren't so many anymore. My daughter had one Jan. 6 and my daughter-in-law is having one in the middle of Spring, so it seems like my life is awash in them, but I walk through the malls and the streets and I don't see so many anymore.
Then there's the wars. Iran, Afghanistan, Israel, the smaller ones over Darfur and Somalia and Banda Aceh and places like that. The big ones and the small ones - both mean a lot of innocent people dead. Did you hear that doctor from Gaza screaming over his cell phone to the anchor on an Israeli prime-time tv news show? His grief was the same as Israeli grief, and the news people started to choke up, too. Something else is more important than that to people, more important than the terrible pain, the awful longing for the embrace of lost loved ones, and yet those who lead don't let it be more important than their policy goals. And the people who start them don't let that world of hurt touch them so deeply that they decide to stop hurting. They have someone to hate.
I got a glimpse of God's glory the other day, about 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning on the side of a highway. It was the day after the miracle on the Hudson, which doesn't need capital letters to remember which one. Arrayed across the dawning firmament was a vast rolling wave constructed of thousands of filaments that curved upwards and back in toward us as they crested in a long, slow roller stretching for miles.
And just past them, to the left, there were two white flat streams of cloud, with a goodly miles-long space between the two. And in the middle of that, on its side, was a cross, in perfect proportion to the one you see in church, if you go to church. It was exactly the right size, with nothing but the cloudbanks and the oceanic wave around it. I was dumbfounded.
Not to mention the vast streak of gold, orange and red in a narrow band to the east that just went on forever. I got my camera out of the car and tried to photograph it. All that was in the viewfinder was light. Thousands of cars were streaming by as rush hour unfurled, and there was that incredible wave and the perfectly formed cross in the river of sky above them all. I thought about that plane in the Hudson, sort of in the shape of a cross.
And that's almost the next-to-last thing. That plane. Those people up to their ankles in water as they walked along the wing and waited. They looked like they were walking on water, didn't they, as they stood there getting their shoes and socks wet? I wonder what the ancients would have thought of that sight. Miracles were a big thing back then. You could turn water into wine and people would notice. These days you can turn it into caviar and they'll put you on a stage in Vegas.
It's hard for God's work to reach us. Everything has to be explained before any conclusion can arise. The miracle begins to evaporate into arcane readings from little black boxes, and all God's work slowly gets forgotten until He thinks of something else.
"Zero is something else," the tv says. Zero Fossil Fuel is a guy who invents, or tries to, a way to use God's gift of hydrogen in water to fuel cars, his and everybody else's. He has more than 140 videos on YouTube. Hundreds of thousands are following him out of the wilderness of fossil fuels. But it's a brain-curdling, frustrating experience. Why can't it just work - and that's that? But he keeps trying.
I just heard a voice say, "Wake up!" I need to go to sleep. Before I do, though, on the topic of hate and love and life, religion, miracles, God and hydrogen, the ersatz pillars of my life, I must thank Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and welcome Barack Obama to the stage.
Dr. King is the reason I am in journalism, and I won't tell that story again since I told it a few weeks ago here. I used to read his speeches out loud at the top of my lungs, and I'm sure it worried the neighbors but it was legal, still. I watch Barack Obama and I hope. I hope, I hope, I hope. I pray, too. Don't you? We are standing before a great onrushing wave, my friends. It carries with it many things, and it is overwhelming. Only hope and strong, strong faith can stand against it.
That's why the plane was saved, that's why the cross was in the sky, that's why Israel heard the Arab man with his three dead daughters' bloody heads still warm in his hands and a peace was declared the next day. There is a way out. There is a God. He does watch us. You do have a shot. And it's not about belief, only in knowing what you know.
When that big wave hits - whether it's the backflow of dollars from China, the glaciers from the north or geomagnetic reversal, where the ice on Earth's crooked axis tips us all upside down one night - it is by no means over. Faith is the force that makes the river when the cowboys come galloping to the edge of the cliff, not knowing what lies beyond.
Abandon hate, for all who enter there will die. The kingdom is within. Really. Have faith in the life God gave you, and like the crumbling stone walls of our farm, follow it home.