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A Thought for Today

The universe can change or perish, but the soul lives on.


And still the messages arrive. All kinds of thoughts about the events of 7/11/01. I’ll let some of the opinions speak for themselves, including my own to start things off.


The not so very Reverend Jerry Falwell can’t stand being out of the limelight for too long and so he never is. This publicity hungry bigot, still passing himself off as a religious leader, will use any excuse to get his name in the paper. His favorite ploy is to treat current events as a hook to hang his harangues on. A doctor working at a clinic that performs abortions is murdered and he calls it “God’s revenge” and a while back when Teletubbies were all the rage he went out of his way to point out to the world which one of the children’s little sprites was “Homosexual” (the purple one, of course.)

The press picks up on his remarks and reports them as news and when sufficient protests arise over his verbal doo-doo he makes a lame apology; thus getting his name in the paper twice.

Is anyone surprised that this man-of-the-no-cloth rushed to hitch his ugly bandwagon to this past week’s tragedy? Not really. But, has he gone too far this time? You decide. Here, verbatim, is an exchange between fatuous Falwell and would-be American president (his God didn’t help him in the voting booth) Pat Robertson on the latter’s 700 Club TV show last Thursday.

JF: What we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be minuscule if, in fact, God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us what we deserve.

PR: Jerry, that’s my feeling. I think we’ve just seen the anti-chamber of terror. We haven’t even begun to see what they can do to the major population.

JF: The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the A.C.LU., People for the American Way, all of them who are trying to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, “You helped this happen.”

PR: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government.

Sources: The New York Times, Associated Press, Reuters & The 700 Club.

Who is trying to secularize America? You be the judge. As a theologian Jerry Falwell is small minded and irrelevant, as a TV talk show guest he is dopier and more incoherent than most and as a spokesperson for whatever, he is an embarrassment, almost too laughable to worry about. Almost. Alas we know all too well that there is always someone out there who takes this bilge as gospel. But, does he really expect us to believe that he and his patsy Pat speak for all Christians?

President George Bush, himself a practicing Christian, was among the first to denounce Farwell’s latest folly, “He does not share those views, and believes that those remarks are inappropriate,” said White House spokesman Ken Lisaius, “The president believes that terrorists are responsible for those acts.”

A couple of years ago, after decades of Gay bashing, Falwell decided to make headlines by “building a bridge to the Gay community.” Excuse me, what was that explosion just now? Oh, only another bridge being dynamited.

This country doesn’t have enough trouble with some of its citizens torching Mosks and attacking Americans they perceive as “them” not “us” and so if fall guy Falwell didn’t exist we’d have to invent him. Trouble is he does exist and he’s an un-American hate-monger, always part of the problem and not the solution. He should be decried from every pulpit. Better still, let the press ignore him – that is until he opens his evil, foul mouth again, AND HE WILL.

As he biliously bloviates Jerry the jerk will never “make God mad.” The eagle does not swat flies.


I finally lost it when I passed the fire station around the corner from the office yesterday. I was already upset by the loss of so many valiant firemen, police people and rescue workers. The neighborhood fire station (the motto on their banner was "Ladder Company 24, Say No More") had brought back one of their ladder fire trucks from their rescue activities at the World Trade Center site --- still covered with debris of the explosions and the eerie white dust/soot of the disaster area. It looked like the truck itself had been bombed it was such a wreck.

They raised the ladder high and put an American flag on it ---- and in front of the truck were the photos of their fellow firemen from their station lost in the rescue action.

Dozens of bouquets of memorial flowers had been placed by people on the front of the truck...and messages of condolence and tribute were written with fingers in the dust on the truck. The surviving firemen of that company when off duty would stand by their truck all day. It was simply unbelievably moving...and brought this home more than anything seen from afar on television. In the end, it's the little human things that move you and make it all so sadly real. Wade


Dear Rod, After watching a clip of Dan Rather crying on David Letterman's show last night, I decided I had no more tears left. So I watched a rerun of Frasier and laughed out loud. It seemed strange to laugh again – not good, not bad - just strange. And I thought back to when Kennedy died. How everybody said we'd never be the same again, our lives were changed forever. But we got through it somehow and, right or wrong, our lives didn't really change. Or they changed so slowly that we didn't notice. Whatever.

I don't know where I'm going with this........ guess I'm just trying to convince myself that it will get better. Someday. Until then, know that your words offer the only solace I've found in this doubly sad week. That you take the time to comfort us, while coping with your own losses, is appreciated more than you can know. Thank you. Love, Ann


Hi Folks, In light of the recent events in both New York and Washington, DC, it seems to me we need to rethink our national policy toward the issuance of "Student Visas" for foreign nationals to attend both our public supported and privately operated educational institutions, colleges, universities, vocational schools and lest we forget, flight training schools.

I think we should remember that for each foreign student attending such schools that is one less American student who, at the very least is, deprived of the opportunity. They and our nation consequently loose the benefit of such an education and training to someone who may not directly benefit our country and in fact may use such an education to kill us.

Therefore I would like to propose that each and everyone of us write to our friends, politicians and business associates and demand an immediate revocation of all "Student Visas" and the immediate and direct deportation to the country of origin as stated on the visa application (perish the thought there could be fraud in the application process let alone the actual school attended or the real reason for using this entry vehicle to our country) of all such students from countries who have not affirmatively and publicly taken substantive steps to turn over all terrorists and their associates responsible for all acts of terrorism against our United States in New York, Washington, DC and elsewhere.

It seems to me that it is absolutely ludicrous for our country to provide the best education available to foreign nationals from countries that are our enemies, from countries that sit on the fence regarding apprehending terrorists and from those who do not wish to be involved yet would eagerly take our benefits.

We can always allow them to reapply and hopefully under circumstances whereby be have greater integrity in the application process, perhaps including independently provided certification from their country of origin that they have no criminal history records nor association with any groups and/or individuals associated with the destruction of our government.

If we do this, it will eliminate or at least mitigate a potential further threat to our national security, particularly at this serious and perhaps to become much more serious time. It may set off a grassroots movement among the foreign national's countries of origin to take a more affirmative, immediate and aggressive posture toward the control of terrorism. The failure to do so would cost them an American education.

This may seem a somewhat radical proposition but it pales in comparison to what has happened to our country, not just in New York and Washington, DC but to our citizens and facilities around the world.

We must force other nations to get off their behinds and take some aggressive steps. We must also force them in all manner available to each of us to take responsibility for the actions of those originating from their countries.

I think we owe this small part of the equation to the memories of our countrymen that perished. If our political leaders do not have the resolve to take such a small step, directed at those who have dragged their feet at supporting the United States' efforts against terrorism, then shame on them.

Why should we train those who seek to kill us or suffer the same? That would be as they say in my business, Felony Stupid.

Please let me know your thoughts and let me know by e-mail copy or other means whom you have passed this suggestion on to and what the response has been from our political leaders. If anyone has a variation on the suggestion or additional steps we could and should take, pass that along too.

Lets keep in touch and make this happen soon. Those that kill Americans or suffer the same, forfeit the right to mercy. Strength and Honor! Thanks, Brent A. Braun


Dear Rod After two days of watching these horror on TV I am still in shock and very sad for the waste of innocent lives, for what purpose? My heart and prayers go out to all in these beautiful and strong country of ours. Love Elsa Marie


Dear Rod, I have been feeling particularly low today -- self-pity?
fear? Whatever the cause, I find the slightest thing can sometimes bring me back to myself.

Outside the back door of the office building I manage is a shrub, I have heard it called a miniature bamboo (I do need to find out what it really is as I would like a couple at the house). The leaves are long and soft and it stays green year-round. It requires no direct sunlight and seemingly, no water.

Every year prior for the last 10 years a praying mantis has appeared in this shrub, until today none had come this season. A few moments ago I stepped outside and low and behold, there was Ms. Micky Mantis. Somehow, watching her tiny triangular head turn to "look" at me while I was looking at her, made things okay again, if just for a moment.

We all take comfort in what we can find, I'm glad Micky decided to show herself today and provide me comfort and I wish a Micky for each of you. BJ


In regard to:” Mankind will always suffer from Cain s crime and God s failure to condemn it." I'm not sure what this means.

We humans in general do not understand God enough, as evidenced by recent events alluded to, to pass judgment on God's success or failure.

I'm not here to lecture. Just think about this. So many rash words will remain in the impressionable soil of our subconscious, reeling in shock these days. We will be unable to sort out fact, fiction, opinion and the other static. Caution is advised. Journalism can still be yellow. Lla Malloy


Dearest R., Your "Lady of Words" is pretty well speechless at the moment. What has happened in this country is an open, raw, festering wound. Yesterday my sister emailed that her stepson, who serves aboard a nuclear submarine, is being sent God-knows-where. The nightmare continues . . . But where will it take us?

I have read and admired your words of solace, wisdom, and practical suggestion on the Flight Plans this past week. You've comforted and reassured a lot of people. [Well done, she says softly. :)] I agree that we must stand behind our president--I just pray President Bush and his advisers choose wisely . . .
Susan, with a smile.


Dear Friends, The following was sent to me by my friend Tamim Ansary. Tamim is an Afghani-American writer. He is also one of the most brilliant people I know in this life. When he writes, I read. When he talks, I listen. Here is his take on Afghanistan and the whole mess we are in. -Gary T.

Dear Gary and whoever else is on this email thread: I've been hearing a lot of talk about "bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age." Ronn Owens, on KGO Talk Radio today, allowed that this would mean killing innocent people, people who had nothing to do with this atrocity, but "we're at war, we have to accept collateral damage. What else can we do?" Minutes later I heard some TV pundit discussing whether we "have the belly to do what must be done."

And I thought about the issues being raised especially hard because I am from Afghanistan, and even though I've lived here for 35 years I've never lost track of what's going on there. So I want to tell anyone who will listen how it all looks from where I'm standing.

I speak as one who hates the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. There is no doubt in my mind that these people were responsible for the atrocity in New York. I agree that something must be done about those monsters.

But the Taliban and Ben Laden are not Afghanistan. They're not even the government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of ignorant psychotics who took over Afghanistan in 1997. Bin Laden is a political criminal with a plan. When you think Taliban, think Nazis. When you think Bin Laden, think Hitler. And when you think "the people of Afghanistan" think "the Jews in the concentration camps."

It's not only that the Afghan people had nothing to do with this atrocity. They were the first victims of the predators. They would exult if someone would come in there, take out the Taliban and
clear out the rats nest of international thugs holed up in their

Some say, why don't the Afghans rise up and overthrow the Taliban? The answer is, they're starved, exhausted, hurt, incapacitated, suffering. A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan--a country with no economy, no food. There are millions of widows. And the Taliban has been burying these widows alive in mass graves. The soil is littered with land mines, the farms were all destroyed by the Soviets. These are a few of the reasons why the Afghan people have not overthrown the Taliban.

We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age. Trouble is, that's been done. The Soviets took care of it already. Make the Afghans suffer? They're already suffering. Level their houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble? Done. Eradicate their hospitals? Done. Destroy their infrastructure? Cut them off from medicine and health care? Too late. Someone already did all that.

New bombs would only stir the rubble of earlier bombs. Would they at least get the Taliban? Not likely. In today's Afghanistan, only the Taliban eat, only they have the means to move around. They'd slip away and hide. Maybe the bombs would get some of those disabled orphans, they don't move too fast, they don't even have wheelchairs. But flying over Kabul and dropping bombs wouldn't really be a strike against the criminals who did this horrific thing. Actually it would only be making common cause with the Taliban--by raping once again the people they've been raping all this time.

So what else is there? What can be done, then? Let me now speak with true fear and trembling. The only way to get Bin Laden is to go in there with ground troops. When people speak of "having the belly to do what needs to be done" they're thinking in terms of having the belly to kill as many as needed. Having the belly to overcome any moral qualms about killing innocent people.

Let's pull our heads out of the sand. What's actually on the table is Americans dying. And not just because some Americans would die fighting their way through Afghanistan to Bin Laden's hideout. It's much bigger than that folks. Because to get any troops to Afghanistan, we'd have to go through Pakistan. Would they let us? Not likely. The conquest of Pakistan would have to be first. Will other Muslim nations just stand by?

You see where I'm going. We're flirting with a world war between Islam and the West and guess what: that's Bin Laden's program. That's exactly what he wants. That's why he did this. Read his speeches and statements. It's all right there. He really believes Islam would beat the west. It might seem ridiculous, but he figures if he can polarize the world into Islam and the West, he's got a billion soldiers.

If the west wreaks a holocaust in those lands, that's a billion people with nothing left to lose, that's even better from Bin Laden's point of view. He's probably wrong, in the end the west would win, whatever that would mean, but the war would last for years and millions would die, not just theirs but ours. Who has the belly for that? Bin Laden does. Anyone else? Tamim Ansary

See you tomorrow with Pass it Along. Sleep warm.

RM 9/19/2001 Previously unpublished

Details of Rod's next appearance can be obtained by following the link below.

"Tap Your Troubles Away" - the music of Jerry Herman

notable birthdays Alexander the Great o Red Auerbach o Dr. Joyce Brothers o Virginia Bruce o Gary Cole o John Dankworth o Frank DeVol o Gogi Grant o Donald Hall o Kristen Johnston o Sister Elizabeth Kenny o Pia Lindstrom o Sophia Loren o Anne Meara o Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton o Peter Palmer o Mac Rebennack (Dr. John) o Fernando Rey o Rachel Roberts o Upton Sinclair o Stevie Smith o Jay Ward
Rod's random thoughts Today I’d like to know the face of someone - anyone - I could blame my headaches on.

Love unreturned is not necessarily unrewarded.

Love carried to its highest point is simple anticipation. So too is fear.


Because the bulls run
one week out of fifty-two
down Pamplona side streets
and I cannot outpace them
And democracy’s brass trumpets
blare from Spanish hill
               to Spanish hill
(all sound, even echo, fading
before the tune is put in practice),
and Mijas has a four-lane highway
                         to and from;
and just a ferry ride away,
a certain city in North Africa
sits poised to snap tourists
                  into a poppy snare.
I walk on tiptoes through
the red / pink / amber fields
that fan out from it,
if I walk fields at all.

Because the arson match is struck
even on God’s vaulted ceiling
(never mind whole neighborhoods
now torched to cinder and all gone),
and fire forgets its subjects’ names,
             is blind to street addresses -
confetti ashes spread across my yard,
one hundred miles of blazing brush.
Low animals that creep the ground
                               on fours,
are cooked to bones.

The lesser works of Big Magician
children, weak from circumstance,
powered men who battle flame
with fist and nozzle well connected
made poor and puny by a heat that seeks
and seizes all within its blanket reach.
A mother huddled in a bathtub,
lovers propagating on a Baldwin afternoon
                             no match for match.
I bury strikers deep.

Because the arsenals in every land
are piled and pyramiding out of sight -
thus out of conscientious mind;
men want stepping-stones to heaven
to be an alleyway of atoms
and there is no reversal anymore,
no rehearsal, just performance -
planned, unplanned, mistake,
              unhappy accident -
a world that went
       before a second coming.

Because no drums are drumming out
and no strong voice from government
or pulpit cries out loud enough, I care,
I no longer look across my shoulder,
                 worry over dented fenders
or try to figure out exactly why
some birds no longer sing the old songs.

Because this year
there must not be a Santa Claus,
I sign each letter I send out
                        with love.
It is the shortest word I know for hope.

Because I have more reasons
                 for with love
than paper I can put them on,
bill collector and computer generated page
will still get answers from me
with those words above my name.
It would not occur to me
to write sincerely yours
                or best regards.

Please don’t think it's something personal
                  (of course, it is).
I mean, with love is no big thing
except to sender and receiver.

You and me the true believers.

- from "Valentines", 1986

© 1969, 1986, 1988, 2001 by Stanyan Music Group & Rod McKuen. All Rights Reserved
Birthday research by Wade Alexander o Poetry from the collection of Jay Hagan o Coordinated by Melinda Smith
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