Monday, June 22, 2015

Fredericksburg and the events that happened this week (6/22/2015)

It was my birthday this past Thursday (18th) and I was really looking forward to it.  This was not because I would be a year older on the calendar (maybe not wiser), but because the pope was going to publish his encyclical on climate change on the 18th; something important for the world.  I thought that is was so cool that this would take place on my birthday.  Moreover, I finished my book about the sixth extinction which in a way is very disturbing.  The Sixth Extinction has me appreciate life; the book taught me that I should be living in the moment since changes are inevitable and that they will be occurring rapidly.  Yes, everything will be changing, and most likely for the worst.   I often think of the time we used to work and live in East Africa in the late 1970s.  Back then we already realized we might be the last generation to see the rhino in the wild.

In addition to these thoughts, I had visited Fredericksburg that week to teach two classes.  I had come out the class on a high.  Again, I got a standing ovation after teaching, which made me feel embarrassed and really happy at the same time.  I teach to educate and not for applause.  I really try to teach people respect for nature and the ecology of the area we live in.  On my birthday, someone wrote the following review of me on my LinkedIn page: "Jan is a knowledgeable person and a great teacher and has a true respect for the environment!"  As you can see these are all reasons of my interest in the encyclical.

Sitting on the 5th floor in my motel room on the 16th I could see the huge thunderstorms building in the area, and I hoped to capture one of them with the Rappahannock River in front of it, as you seem I was able to capture exactly what I had hoped.  This photograph was taken downtown from a bridge over the river.  Again I had this feeling of love and appreciation of what life or nature was giving me: the simple beauty and being in the moment.  Traveling can be lonely,  but it can be full as well if you appreciate the beauty, live in the moment and try to explore.  The second one is a scene from downtown, sitting at a coffee shop after dinner.  Just fun, watching people stroll by.  One woman was discussing with her husband how many steps she had on her fitbit.  People watching is my favorite!  It's a shame that some of these places downtown close by 8, but then the University is out and most of the students probably went home for the summer.

Little did I know what was to transpire driving back from Fredericksburg the next day.

Waking up the morning of my birthday I was greeted by news of another mass killing; now in one of my favorite cities: Charleston, SC.   I am so angry about the murder in Charleston that there is no way for me to express that.  I agree with John Steward that describing it in such terms as terrible takes it away from the fact that it is something much bigger.  The hatred by groups in our society must end.  We spent trillions on fighting terrorism directed at us from the outside without dealing with it from inside our country.

It is amazing and such a shame that the pope's important message is being hijacked by the murder, and then see the wing nuts on the right trying to steer the attention of their conservative buddies (we don't want to talk gun control or examine the undercurrent of racial hatred) away from the murder back on the pope.  The right wing fringe (wing nuts) call the pope names and say he is a "wolf in popes clothing" and worse.  One hate crime is not enough and they are already motivate their fans into hating others (Catholics?) and this hatred inevitably leads to crimes.  I have written about this some other times as well (see also this post, and some of the other posts of mine with the label tolerance).

The pope's message has little to do with me, except that I - a non-catholic - was looking forward to hearing what he had to say in the encyclical. Truthfully, I am reading it right now, and the pope is not as nuts as they make him out to be.  But again, it does not take away from last week's horrible news, we need to fight racism and preach tolerance.

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