Christmas in Aleppo

Aleppo is dominating the news this morning. Millions have lost their homes and the slaughter continues.

Uncountable deaths of innocent people.

Immeasurable devastation and tragedy throughout one of the world’s oldest cities.

Simple loving families a lot like (y)ours are still caught in the middle of a clusterf@ck of not-so-innocent dictators battling revolutionaries and whacked out terrorist groups.  All vying for power in the hell they’ve created.

Yet, several world leaders are being demonized for helping the refugees. Imagine that. I simply can’t.

Rather than an extreme vetting process, I propose a hug line. Force each refugee to pass through hundreds of welcomers willing to make an attempt at squeezing the anger and sadness out of them. Huggers who will look the victims square in their eyes and say, “Merry Christmas.”

Instead of parading them like cattle into cold bureaucratic prison-like facilities, hand out mugs of fresh eggnog and hot chocolate.

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Contrary to the sanctimonious rantings of our fear-mongering politicians, it’s not possible to exterminate a religion or an ideology, but over time we might be able to change its perception of us.

But that’s just my view.

I’ve personally discovered that there are kind, beautiful people everywhere on Earth. If you don’t believe this, I can guarantee you have not traveled much or ventured beyond the “tourist zones.”

I’m motivated to say these things because every day I interact with people who feel the exact opposite of what I feel. The thing we have in common is that we are inconsequential beyond expressing our opinions from the comfort of our cozy still-intact homes.

You may know the ancient adage of “two wolves fighting within us.” Summarily, there’s a good wolf and a bad wolf at war in each of us. The one you feed eventually wins the fight. But I digress.

Don’t I think it’s scary to let those “strange” Muslims in our country? Well, I figure the choice comes down to giving in to fear or living up to “home of the brave.”

Carry on.

What We Steal from Our Children

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I recall a conversation with two women who grew up in Taiwan. They said they wish they had grown up in the United States. I can’t quote them exactly, but the gist of it was that we Americans love and spoil our children. We have Disney World and Christmas and all sorts of special events and traditions designed to make their lives special — perhaps more so than anywhere else on Earth. I remember thinking how lucky I was.

Fast forward to 2016 and one of my African American bandmates tells me a story of a young girl, perhaps his granddaughter, who posed a question to him. She said, “You mean there is going to be a white president?” I don’t know how old she was, but it’s possible she’d never seen a white president before.

Expanding on that I realized, like me, she had never experienced a president who lacked the ability to act presidential. President Obama, in spite of any faults or shortcomings, always presented himself with the class and dignity worthy of the office. He was and remains thoughtful, intelligent, articulate, measured and polite even in the face of unwarranted attacks. When his face appears along side all those white presidents who came before him, I see someone who fits right in the iconography of American presidents. The revered decorum of it all.

Fast forward yet again. Let’s say four years from now. What type of behavior will a young child expect from a president? Will that child be led to assume all our past presidents were babbling, irreverent clowns?

The election of 2016 has been shameful.

I know that many of our past presidents were no saints. The list includes several corrupt individuals, adulterers, alcoholics, and who knows what else. But my blissful ignorance of the details allows me to remain somewhat proud of the history overall. I’m pretty sure we’ve just laid an ax to the root of that tree.

On behalf of my fellow adults of voting age, I feel the need to apologize to the coming generation of young Americans. We blew it. We have destroyed civility on the world’s largest stage. We normalized vindictive, selfish behavior. We’ve empowered and validated a man no one can predict, much less hope to control.

This has to change. Let’s make America great again.