"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Monday, November 01, 2004

Why I Care 

My beloved son, Nicholas
Some of you may recognize this as a picture of my son, Nicholas. He'll be three years old two weeks from today. On the morning of September 11, 2001, he was safely tucked away in his mother's belly - blissfully unaware that the world into which he was to be born was suddenly scarier, sadder, uglier than the one he deserved.

I remember sitting transfixed in front of CNN that terrible morning, watching the surreal horror unfold. When the first tower collapsed, I reached my limit - I couldn't take any more; it was time to take the dog for her walk and spend a few moments alone with my thoughts. Unfortunately, they were poor company. I remember the slow, seeping sadness come over me and being overtaken by tears as I realized that my son would be born into a time of war. It was, I repeated to myself, profoundly unfair. It was like original sin: My child would be born paying a dear price for something that was not his fault, something over which he had no control.

Those of you who read this page include my family, my friends, my acquaintances, my colleagues. Some of you are fellow bloggers who, against all odds, somehow discovered my humble ranting (humble in the sense of "low in importance, status, or condition," if not always humble in the sense of "not proud or arrogant; modest"). Some of you are innocent dupes who followed promising links from the search engine of your choice - most of you have left here cursing Google for its primitive algorithms. Some of you have left encouraging words in comments; a very few of you have been kind enough to leave a Paypal donation, or buy a T-shirt or some other trinket via my Café Press link, or done your shopping at Amazon.com through one of my links, and so demonstrated your support in an especially appreciated way. You are a diverse bunch, but with one thing in common: You have all earned my sincere thanks.

One thing I have done in an effort to express my thanks is to spare you all the banal, tedious, and embarrassing details of my personal life. Or, maybe, I'm rationalizing - maybe I've shied away from intimacy in my writing because I'm a coward (the only cardinal sin for a writer). Whatever. In any event, here's something I haven't mentioned in this forum before: For the past few years, since a point some time before my son's birth, I have been battling (with decidedly mixed success) against the debilitating disease of depression. Among other things, my sickness has severely impacted my ability to practice my profession and, as a result, I have largely failed in fulfilling my responsibility to my family. I realize I have let my wife and son down, and that realization hurts me deeply.

My writing here has been a small attempt to make things right for my beautiful boy, Nicholas.

There is nothing that I, or you, or anyone else can do to change what happened on 911. My therapist tried to explain (before I ran out my insurance benefits, and had to cancel the rest of my sessions) that one of the things I need to do in order to become well is to try to accept reality as it is. And I do try. The reality of my son's life - the reality I struggle to accept - includes the sad fact that his world will be dominated, for the foreseeable future, by this historic battle of cultures in which we are currently embroiled. I see it as a battle between the light of reason and the darkness of religious fanaticism. On one side stands those of us who believe that we are all better off when decent people of conscience debate policy, argue about the best way to make our world a better place for all of us and all of our children. On the other side stand those who would use hate and fear as a weapon to beat the rest of us into submission so that a small, cramped, twisted vision of the future might take hold and silence all dissent.

One exponent of this latter view is our sworn enemy, Osama bin Laden. Remember him? He's the man who sent those airplanes into the towers on that mournful morning. He's the man who killed all those innocents in a sincere, but ultimately evil, attempt to turn our attention to the crimes committed against Muslims in Palestine, Iraq, and elsewhere. Here's the thing to remember about bin Laden: He believes - no, he knows - he's right. Here's the other thing to remember about him: To a certain extent, he is right. Poor Muslims, like poor Christians, Jews, Hindus, and so forth, have been made pawns in this great, awful struggle not of their making. But - and this is important - his rightness in certain respects cannot outweigh the wrongness of his methods. He must be defeated. And, I believe, he will be defeated.

Bin Laden's doppelgänger in this great battle is our own President, George W. Bush. Two peas in a pod, these two are. Neither one will ever admit to a mistake. Neither one will tolerate any dissent. Neither one will consider the possibility that God is not on his side. I recall the thoughts of Abraham Lincoln during the dark days of our own civil war: I do not know if God is on our side, but I pray that we are on God's side. If you were to suggest this notion to George W. Bush, he would look at you with sincere (and sincerely frightening) confusion. He believes - no, he knows - he's right. And so, just like his alter ego bin Laden, George W. Bush must be defeated. And, I believe, he will be defeated.

For what it's worth, here's my prediction: Kerry by 6-8% in the popular vote, and by 40-80 electoral votes. Take that to the bank - but don't write any checks against the deposit; not just yet, anyway.

I take some comfort in knowing that, while today is a dark, drizzly day here in Seattle, tomorrow is supposed to be better.

I will be back after tomorrow (although, barring the sort of mess we saw in 2000, I may take a few days off), because there is still much work to be done. If Kerry wins, we will still have a hostile Congress to confront, and we will still have 140,000 or so soldiers to bring home safely. And if, somehow, Bush wins, we must remain on the barricades. We must never surrender, either way. Still, I hope that after tomorrow I can spend less time writing about politics and spend more time writing about the things that bring me real joy: Music, humor, beer (Mmmmm - beer!), and the unmitigated delight that comes with raising a three-year-old.

If you are reading this I doubt you need my encouragement, but here it is: Wherever you are, whoever you are, wake up tomorrow and, before you do anything else, vote. Vote for the future of our children, and for our own future. Vote for jobs, vote for the environment, vote for health care, and social justice, and for real freedom.

Vote for genuine security. Just vote.

Vote for my son, Nicholas, and for your own sons and daughters, born or unborn.

Just remember to vote for joy.

And I'll see you on the other side. Thanks again.




Your son is beautiful. Your concern for your family shows in all you do, even your ranting, because you care. Your depression may be "clinical," but, as an RN with depression myself (and my son) I have changed course on my believe that it is a disease. To be honest, to be sensitive, to be awake and aware is to be in pain. There is suffering everywhere and only the walking dead are immune to it. What makes it worse is the feeling of helplessness. But, I believe that this is passing. We now know that we have work to do, whether Kerry wins or not, and, that we can effect real change. Things will be better now.
You enjoy you beer, I, my wine, and give salute to all the bloggers with heart who have changed things for ever with there dedication and intelligence. Blog On!
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