Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Hope and Pajamas

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

I suppose that if you asked 100 different people what hope looks like you would get 100 different answers.  That is human nature.  If I were one of those 100 people and you asked me that question today the answer would be: these pajamas.

A few weeks before IEP was born my mother was in town for one of my baby showers.  She took the opportunity to spoil me in a variety of ways, one of which was to take me shopping for pajamas to wear in the hospital so that I would have something comfortable but attractive to wear when friends and family came to visit me and our new baby.  One pair was pale blue with a chocolate brown floral pattern.  The other pair was white with spring green leaves and periwinkle blue birds.  I loved them both.  But, as it turned out, no one ever saw my cute pajamas.

Just hours old, IEP was transferred to a children’s hospital for treatment by teams of specialists.  (He is fine now.)  This meant that I spent my two postpartum days in the hospital alone with my mother, waiting for my phone to ring with news of my baby’s condition and prognosis, while GAP tended to our son across town.  I won’t lie.  It really, really sucked.

Now here I am, three years later, preparing for the arrival of my next baby.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be, but I’ve been trying fairly hard avoid thinking about delivery.  They were complications during delivery that caused all of IEP’s problems, and it’s hard to think about the actual birth of my second son without my mind going to a worst-case-scenario kind of place.  We have taken all the proper steps to ensure a healthy and safe delivery, which does put my mind at ease a bit.  Nevertheless, I struggle to envision exactly what it might be like to go through labor without incident, and to relax in the hospital with my baby for a couple of days before we head home.

And so I turn to pajamas – two pairs, one floral and one polka dotted – which to me represent hope, optimism, and the faith that this time will be different from the last.  They arrived in the mail yesterday and shortly after I got home from work I tried them on.  Then I called my mother and said, “My hospital pajamas came today.  And I’m bound and determined for someone to actually see them this time.”  She knew immediately the significance of my statement.

It’s hard for me to think about delivery.  But in my own way I am mentally preparing for a different experience this time.  For me, right now, hope looks like new hospital pajamas.

Tell Me Your Story

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

There is all sorts of conflict in this world.  And there are all sorts of philosophies about how to resolve that conflict.  We debate.  We fight.  We go to war.  We stage sit-ins.  We write op-eds.  We kill.  The human race has tried everything we can think of to either bridge or eliminate the gaps we find between our beliefs and those of people who disagree with us.  But I wonder how often we try to understand and really take to heart the experiences and beliefs of the person standing opposite us.

I think the answer is: not often enough.

Story Swap International agrees with me.  Last night while perusing headlines I came across this post by Reza Aslan.  In it he explains that , “as the Palestinian Authority heads to New York this week to confront the Israeli government at the United Nations with a declaration of statehood, back in Israel a group of Jewish and Arab kids are laying the foundations for a more hopeful future through the art of storytelling.”

Story Swap was born out of the Aspen Writers Workshop in 2007 and has been used in various environments worldwide to help resolve conflict.  It calls upon us merely to listen – to hear the whole story of someone on the other side of a divide – and to consider their point of view.  It does not ask us to solve a problem.  It does not ask us to bless or sanction or approve.  It does not ask us to forgive.  It asks only that we listen to another person’s story.  And, perhaps amazingly (or perhaps not), we find that when we’ve heard another person’s story we respond to them differently.

These kids in the Middle East will hear each other out.  They will open their ears and their minds and perhaps even their hearts.  And as they watch the Montagues and Capulets of their lives continue to battle each other they may be some of the first to view their counterparts with empathy instead of enmity.

I can’t speak for you, but I suspect that my life will never know the kind of cultural conflict that generations of Israelis and Palestinians have known for generations.  It is nearly beyond my comprehension.  And yet I know that I could better exemplify tolerance and acceptance on a daily basis.  Despite my best efforts, I sometimes fail.  I evaluate.  I compare.  I judge.  I recognize that some of this is human.  How else can I understand and fortify my own values and beliefs without recognizing how the world around me stacks up against the various lines I have drawn?  Nevertheless, I fail.

How much more accepting might I be if I stopped to listen to the story of someone I might otherwise judge?  If teenagers in the Middle East can set aside their prejudices and cultural barriers to listen to each other’s stories, why couldn’t I do the same?  Better yet, why couldn’t I just assume a position of tolerance without having to hear the story?  Ideally wouldn’t that be my default position?  Or is our tolerance and accepted enhanced in untold ways by hearing the story?  While a default position of tolerance is certainly an admirable approach to take, I wonder if our empathy is truer, more heartfelt, and longer lasting when we understand what our tolerance might actually mean to that person.

Perhaps this approach is naive.  But it seems to me that the world has enough cynicism.  Perhaps a little bit of innocent hope accompanied by open minds and hearts would carry us further than various peace summits and political treaties ever have.

Health vs. Beauty

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Sometimes we women just don’t do ourselves any favors.

That was the thought that coursed through my mind as I read this article entitled “Do Women Choose Beauty Over Health?”  According to the United States Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, women are inclined to forego exercise on any given day because they don’t want their hair to get sweaty or to have to wash it.

Really?  We need the Surgeon General to tell us that fitness is more important than good hair?  Unfortunately the answer is Yes.

I suppose when you get into the heart of the issue it’s a little more understandable than it sounds on its face.  Dr. Benjamin explained that lots of women (especially African American women such as herself) spend a great deal of time and money achieving a certain hairstyle.  The thought of going to that time and expense again is a big disincentive to exercise.  She also commented that this is particularly true when we are looking for reasons not to work out in the first place.

What breaks my heart about this phenomenon is that it points to how little we actually count health in our estimation of beauty.  When we see a beautiful woman with glowing skin, white teeth, and shiny hair we immediately want to know about her daily personal care routine and what products she uses.  We don’t wonder about whether whole grains and lots of produce are key components of her diet.  We don’t readily consider what she does to keep her stress levels low and get enough sleep.  We don’t ask if exercise is a regular part of her life.  And yet when we get down to it the things that we find most attractive in ourselves and others are typically the byproducts of a healthy lifestyle.

This outlook holds true on the new website YouBeauty which works to inspire women to live healthy lifestyles through the incentives of improved appearances.  However, in spite of its basic premise the site’s CEO commented that the best way to get women to do anything healthy is to tell them it will make them more beautiful – eat broccoli, work up a good sweat, you name it.

I’ve addressed the issue of vanity in a couple of different posts recently (here and here), and I’m not quite sure why it’s resonating with me so much right now.  I suspect it has a lot to do with the fact that at 31 weeks pregnant I’ve had to sacrifice much of my vanity and focus much more heavily on my health.  My baby needs me to be healthy, not beautiful.  What interests me about this is that it’s not at all uncommon for pregnant women to find renewed energy for a healthy lifestyle.  When we are growing another life we take great care of ourselves.  We eat balanced diets.  We are willing to gain weight.  We go organic.  We drink more water and rest more.  We give up caffeine.  These changes and sacrifices are not insignificant.  We do all of these things for our babies, yet we are disinclined to do them for ourselves.

This makes me sad because it means that what effort we go to is always for someone else.  Whether it’s a husband or a job interview or a 20th high school reunion, the fact remains that we are certainly willing to jump through all sorts of hoops for our looks.  But by and large those hoops don’t benefit us.  In a perfect world we would all eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day, sleep eight hours each night, exercise for an hour five days a week, and drink 64 ounces of water daily.  We would do these things for ourselves – to live longer, healthier, and happier lives.

I’m not here to say that superficial indulgences aren’t perfectly acceptable from time to time.  (This is the part where I confess that the zippered makeup case in my purse contains at least 20 different seasonally updated shades of lipstick, gloss, and liner at any given time…)  But those indulgences should be the frosting, not the foundation.

Ladies, healthy is beautiful.  If we’re going to go through contortions for our appearances, let’s at least go about it in ways that benefit our health.  I’ll go to the gym if you will.  Deal?

Service and Sacrifice

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

I had a different topic in mind for today, but I’m interrupting our regularly schedule programming because this is more important.

Yesterday while checking in on Facebook I noticed a link posted by my good friend and fellow blogger Aidan at Ivy League Insecurities.  Aidan is currently in the midst of a month-long blogging sabbatical, so I was surprised to see a post from her and immediately clicked over.

I will let you read Aidan’s post yourself, and I hope you will because I think it is valuable, but I will give you a little foretaste.  I’m sure you heard in the news recently of the 30 Navy SEALs who were killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.  It was the largest single-day loss off life for American troops since the war began nearly 10 years ago.  As it turns out, one of the troops killed in that tragic event was the brother of the fiance of one of Aidan’s girlfriends.  When Aidan reached out to her friend to ask what she could do the friend requested a blog post dedicated to her fiance’s brother.  And that is exactly what Aidan did.

When a war has dragged on as our war in Afghanistan has it is easy to grow numb to the depressing statistics that roll through our media month after month.  It is easy to hear the numbers without attaching names or faces or grieving families.  And so I think it is important that, from time to time, we take the time to learn the stories of the soldiers who have sacrificed their lives in service to our country.  It should be painful.  It should be uncomfortable.  It should hurt.  These soldiers are more than talking points for politicians and fodder for cable news pundits.  They are people who have given their lives in service to our country, which is more than any of us have done.

Please click here to read Aidan’s post.  And if you feel so moved, please leave your condolences for Sgt. Hamburger’s family in the Comments section there.  And please, if you do nothing else, give some thought today to all of the families who continue to grieve the loss of their loved ones.

Vain Motivation

Friday, August 5th, 2011

I understand that as a general rule vanity is a bad thing.  It leads to shallowness and superficiality.  It begs us to care more about appearances than substance, both in ourselves and in other people.  However, I would wager that we all have at least a streak of it.

If you had a cup of coffee with my mother and asked her about me as a little girl I would put money on the likelihood of her telling you the story of my purple jumper.  It was corduroy and bright grape in color.  Apparently I was a big fan of it because when I stood in front of a full length mirror the words that spilled forth from my mouth were an unabashed,  “I so pretty!”  (This was evidently before I got the hang of verbs.)  I cannot tell you how many times that moment has been quoted.  And while I have gotten much more discrete in expressing my vanities over time, I still have the same penchant today for looking in the mirror and being happy with what I see.  I think we all do.

It is a commonly held belief that when we look good we feel good.  I’m no psychologist, but the annecdotal evidence of my own life tells me this premise is true.  When the haircut is new, and the makeup is fresh, and the shoes are just right, and the scales tell us what we want to hear we pretty much feel like we can conquer the world.  Or at least that particular day.

None of this has anything to do with the quality of our character or the state of our general health.  Yet I still say it matters.  And that is why I was a bit dismayed to read Ramona Braganza’s article on The Huffington Post telling me that I shouldn’t aim for a “Hollywood body.”  She writes:

What I can tell you, though, is that the key to successful weight-loss and toning is choosing the right motivation. When [celebrities] train they not only do it for their images and their careers, they do it for a greater motivation: They do it for themselves. [Jessica Alba] trains for her health knowing osteoporosis runs in her family. Halle [Berry] trains to keep her diabetes under control. … The right motivation is health-driven — not image-driven.

I understand Braganza’s premise.  For starters, most of us will never look like Halle Berry or Jessica Alba (or Matt Damon or Ryan Reynolds, if you’re a man).  So making a spcific person’s figure your end goal is almost guaranteed to end in disappointment.  Also, we have to want better bodies for ourselves.  We should want them so that we can chase our kids around, or enjoy puttering around our gardens, or carry our grandkids up a flight of stairs.  Of course we should want those things most.  But I’m here to cast a second vote in favor of old-fashioned vanity.

If looking at a picture of a perfectly toned celebrity helps me get myself to the gym after a long day at work, what’s the harm in that?  If the satisfaction of getting back into my pre-pregnancy wardrobe will help me make healthy choices when I sit down to a meal, why is that a problem?  If I floss my teeth each night, remove every speck of makeup before bed, exfoliate once a week, exercise regularly, monitor my diet, drink eight glasses of water a day, and sleep eight hours a night just for the satisfaction of looking into the mirror and seeing white teeth, glowing skin, toned muscles, and a well-rested face why can’t that be good enough?

I’ve been on a bit of a Kate Middleton kick lately. I find myself inspired by her lean physique and classic sense of style.  I know that I will never be 5′ 10″ tall.  I will never have her thick, lustrous curls cascading down my back.  And  I will never (woe is me) have a British accent.  Nevertheless, why shouldn’t I take that inspiration and use it for my own benefit?  I know my own limitations and have no intention of making myself miserable trying to become something I can never be.  But aspiration is an incredibly powerful motivator, and I take exception to Ms. Braganza’s premise that it shouldn’t be allowed to factor into our own process of making healthy decisions.

Being the best version of myself certainly requires attention to more than just my appearance.  And we should all be wary of the day that what’s within us begins to matter less than what’s on the surface.  But staying healthy is hard work, and if a little vanity helps us over the hump, then I say bring on the full-length mirror!

Say It with Casseroles

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Here in the blogging world we like to comfort each other with our words.  We try hard to turn phrases that convey the precise sentiment we’re feeling.  We try to evoke moods and meaning.  Most of the time we at least get close.  But I’m here to say that, as far as I’m concerned, when the going really gets tough nothing expresses care and concern like food.

I’m an old fashioned girl in many respects.  I insist on carrying cotton handkerchiefs, writing on monogrammed stationery, and sending thank you notes any time I’ve been an overnight guest in someone’s house.  GAP indulges and respects my traditional ways, but doesn’t typically share them.  So I tend to go it alone in this regard.  The one exception to this rule is taking food to people in times of need.

Last week the father of a casual friend of ours passed away unexpectedly.  As I read the brief update on Facebook I tried to think of what she must have been feeling; tried to put myself in her shoes; tried to come up with exactly the right words to send her way, offering peace and comfort.  I drew a blank.

Instead I sent her this note:

I wanted to touch base with you and see what your weekend looks like.  I’d like to drop off some food for you and J, but I don’t know when your dad’s funeral is scheduled or what other family plans you might have.  Can you let me know if there’s a time this weekend, or one evening next week when it would be convenient for me to stop by?

From there I went on to express my condolences, although briefly, because I knew that nothing I could say in an e-mail would matter as much as a meal on her doorstep.  Food says all the things that words can’t.  Food takes time.  Delivering it takes time.  Being willing to stay for a visit, or merely drop off the food and leave – depending on the emotional needs of the grieving person – takes nuance and consideration.  All these things combined offer, I believe, a much more compelling expression of sympathy and affection than nearly any string of words.

This whole situation reminded me of a scene in Eat, Pray, Love when Liz Gilbert discusses the differences between her approach to the world and that of her older sister.

“A family in my sister’s neighborhood was recently stricken with a double tragedy, when both the young mother and her three-year-old son were diagnosed with cancer. When Catherine told me about this, I could only say, shocked, “Dear God, that family needs grace.” She replied firmly, “That family needs casseroles,” and then proceeded to organize the entire neighborhood into bringing that family dinner, in shifts, every single night, for an entire year. I do not know if my sister fully recognizes that this is grace.”

Of course my one meal delivered yesterday afternoon falls far short of a year’s worth of coordinated deliveries, but I suppose the sentiment is the same.

I haven’t written this post to say that I get it right every time.  This approach has its drawbacks too.  I have a cousin out of state whose family is currently fighting one of the most hideous cancer battles I’ve ever seen, and short of one batch of macaroons, I haven’t been able to offer much.  So I certainly fall short more than I’d like.  But nine times out of ten I’ve found that I can be much more helpful with the gift of a meal than anything else I might have to offer.

Thus ends my little PSA.  The next time someone you know is in pain, I hope you’ll write them a little note (ideally on monogrammed stationery).  But what I really hope is that you’ll tape it to the top of a casserole dish, along with baking instructions, because your love and affection could hardly be better expressed.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Monday, July 18th, 2011

If you are a 10-ish-year-old boy named Will from St. Louis, the whole “back to school” affair that’s coming up in a few weeks just got a lot more exciting.  The end of day camps, and cannon balls, and chasing down the ice cream truck are about to draw down for the year.  I suspect this would be a huge letdown for most little boys.  And perhaps it will be for Will too.  But when Will goes back to school next month he will likely be asked, in front of all his classmates, what he did on his summer vacation.

Will will sit patiently while he listens to stories of grandma’s house and Disney World and beach trips from his classmates.  And when it is his turn Will will stand up and say, “I danced on stage with Bono in front of 56,00 people.”  And with that statement Will wins the summer vacation sweepstakes.   (Assuming, of course, that Will’s pint-sized classmates grasp how unlikely and how awesome such an event is…)  I’m pretty sure nothing tops that.

I think we have defining moments in our lives.  For most of us they include things like wedding days, childbirth, professional conquests, and sometimes tragedy.  But many of us also have little moments of fortune that create huge memories.  Things like catching a home run fly ball, or winning the science fair, or getting pulled up onstage by Bono for the better part of “City of Blinding Lights.”

I don’t know what kind of impression his rock star treatment will leave on young Will.  I know that I was beyond excited on his behalf.  I know that I will remember him walking around that stage with Bono holding his hand.  I know that it was an experience that millions of people around the world might dream of, but that Will himself may not understand that for a number of years.

But that’s the thing about these defining moments: what is pivotal for one person may not be for another.  We all interact with the world in our own ways, and are impacted by things differently.  That’s part of what makes life so interesting.  Will may go on to have an astounding life in which an onstage appearance with Bono is merely a footnote.  Or he may think back on that moment filled with adrenaline and excitement for the rest of his life.  I’ll never know.  But today I’m thinking back on some of the more pivotal moments in my life, and they are making me smile.

He Knows

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Every morning GAP gets up first.  The dogs follow him out of our bedroom, wait while he gets IEP from his crib, and then the lot of them go downstairs to kick off the day.  About 10 minutes later I roll out of bed, go through my morning oblutions, and join them in the sunroom.  This is how it works… unless I’m pregnant.  There’s one wrinkle in the routine when I’m pregnant, because Scout knows.

The morning routine has been the same for several years now.  So I found it curious during my first pregnancy when, near the end of my first trimester, Scout stopped going downstairs with GAP in the morning.  He would go across the hall to the study, lie down, and wait for me to get up.  When I emerged he would greet me eagerly, then lie back down and wait for me to get ready to head downstairs.  He did this every single morning until IEP was born.

This time around he’s been a little slower to realize that I’m pregnant, and a bit more inconsistent in his attentiveness.  I think it probably has something to do with his protective instincts toward IEP and the fact that he can’t be in two places at once.  But sometime in the past couple of weeks he figured it out, and most mornings I get out of bed to discover that he is either waiting for me in the study, or hasn’t even left the bedroom at all.

Apparently, while there is no scientific evidence of dogs’ ability to discern pregnancy, there is voluminous anecdotal support.  Dogs are keenly aware of our body language, routines, and scents.  And all of these things change to some extent during a pregnancy.

Scout is the best, sweetest, most obedient, and gentlest dog I’ve ever known (and I grew up with dogs).  When we have overnight company Scout doesn’t follow us upstairs at night, but goes down to the guest room in the basement and spends the night with our guests.  When he was about three years old he found a burrow of days-old baby bunnies in our yard.  He checked on them daily (we assumed he was after a furry snack), and when they were old enough to venture out of their hole he lay down on the patio, making himself as small as a hundred-pound dog can, and gently played with them, never once pouncing or snapping.  We have it on video.  At six months old IEP pulled on Scout’s cheeks and ears regularly and Scout just lay there.  He walks at your side without a leash.  And when I am pregnant he stays close, making sure that I’m okay.

Taking a step back, maybe it’s not all that amazing that dogs can sense pregnancy.  They are highly social animals and highly attuned to their masters.  But even after having him in our family for five years now, sometimes Scout still awes me.  GAP and I have long said that Scout is the best dog we’ll ever have.  Perhaps it’s because he was our first, but even setting that bias aside, it will be hard for any other dog to live up to the example he’s set.

Every morning, until Baby #2 is born, Scout will stick close by my side.  And I won’t take it for granted even for a moment.

Putting the Honor Back in “Honor”

Monday, June 27th, 2011

The logic goes like this: Women go carousing around committing adultery or having sex out of wedlock.  This brings shame on their families.  So they are murdered by their families in order to restore honor to the group.

That, friends, is the premise of a so-called “honor killing.”

“Honor killings” are most often carried out in the Middle East.  Although (per Wikipedia) they’ve been reported throughout the world including locations in Southeast Asia, and within immigrant communities in France, Germany, and the UK.  Apparently they were first conceived and encourage in ancient Rome because male family members of adulterous women would be persecuted based on the women’s behavior.  Today the United Nations Population Fund estimates that as many as 5,000 women and girls are murdered this way each year, although many women’s rights groups in the Middle East and Southeast Asia estimate that it could be as many as 20,000.

It’s the kind of thing that makes your stomach sink.  You feel like you’ve died just a little inside by merely knowing that such a practice exists, even if it is being carried out continents away by no one you actually know.  It’s horrendous and there is no excuse for it under any circumstance.  And, while it seems like it should be impossible, there are situations when this cruel practice is even worse.

Rape victims are also subject to ”honor killings.”

Yes, women who’ve been subjugated, molested, violated, and abused, are then murdered by the very people who are supposed to love them most due to the “shame” they have brought upon their families.  Truly, it boggles the mind.  But I’m not just trying to bum you out on a Monday, so stick with me.

Equally mind boggling was this article from Salon, which an old high school classmate of mine posted on Facebook.  Apparently, in a small but growing trend, in Syria men are marrying rape victims (whom they don’t necessarily even know) to spare them from “honor killings.”  This all started when four teenage sisters from a Syrian-Turkish border town were raped.  As they healed in the hospital news of their tragic story spread and a small group of men from a neighboring town vowed to marry them.

One of these men said, “I know that these girls suffered. They were taken against their will. I don’t care what they look like, the point is to stand by them, and I do with all of my heart.”

So often all we hear about gender relations in the Middle East is negative.  Men dress in comfortable Western attire, while women must don headscarves and burkas.  Men can drive cars, run for political office, and socialize with whomever they choose at any time, while women’s freedoms are often severely limited.  Rarely do we hear about men stepping up for women who’ve been victimized by the system.  Given all this, I can think of nothing more honorable for these Syrian men to have done.

The Salon article asserts that if this trend continues it may nullify the stigma attached to rape over time, perhaps eventually sparing future victims from further abuse beyond whatever they’ve already survived.  What an incredible transformation that would be!

Desperate for Inspiration

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Over the past two days I have been relieved to learn that I am not alone in my discomfort with all the celebration over the death of Osama bin Laden.  When the news broke I clutched GAP’s hand.  I was incredulous.  A smile started to spread across my face which I quickly stifled.  And as the news started to sink in my appreciation for the gravity of the situation increased.

Prior to President Obama’s address to the nation news anchors filled air with the few details that had been confirmed, and with coverage of the spontaneous celebrations that had erupted in Times Square and in front of the White House.  Those celebrations didn’t sit right with me at the time, but it took me a little while to articulate why.  Then, on Monday, I posted the following to my Facebook wall:

I’m bewildered by all the celebration over Bin Laden’s death. I feel relief. I feel thankful. And I feel a sense of closure. But I do not feel joyful.

This was out of character for me.  Most of my FB posts are limited to blog links and other articles I find interesting.  Rarely do I comment on my own opinions, the logistics of my day, or other minutiae of daily life.  And less than rarely do I comment on politics or other controversial topics.  But I felt strongly about my reactions to the celebrations; strongly enough to risk stirring the pot.  Also, I was curious about how people would respond.  I originally hail from a very red state, and wondered if my words would resonate with many of my Facebook friends, or if they would register as unpatriotic.

I was proud and relieved to find that many of my friends responded in affirmation.  And since then, as I have perused the web for other responses to this news, I have found that many people share my bewilderment.  In fact, another Facebook friend posted the following quote attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Upon reading it I commented on my friend’s post that I found the quote inspiring and that I thought a great number of people needed to read it as well.  Apparently I wasn’t the only person with this response to the quote because it was all over Twitter and Facebook on Monday.  I found this heartening until I learned from this brief article in The Atlantic online that the quote was contrived.  That is, the second, third, and fourth sentences of the quote were in fact spoken by Dr. King, although in an entirely different context.  (Mass killings such as we saw on September 11th did not occur during the civil rights movement.)  But the first sentence was wholly made up by someone else.  By whom?  I don’t know.  Why?  I don’t know.  But what I do know is that we latched onto it with incredible fervor.

Are we so desperate for inspiration that we’ll grasp at anything false just to feel something in our hands?  Are we so starved for eloquence and meaning that we are willing to fabricate them just to sate our unmet desires?  If the answer is yes, then let us embrace that desperation and turn our attentions to fulfilling it.  But let’s do it authentically.  The first sentence of the fake MLK quote is lovely.  Whoever wrote it clearly knows how to turn a phrase.  I wonder what else that person might have to say.  And I wonder why he would choose to hide in the middle of someone else’s words, rather than to stand up and let his own voice be heard.

I’m glad that there is a critical mass of people who find celebration over the death of another person unseemly.  And I’m glad that we’re looking for inspiring words to guide us during a time of great ambivalence.  I just wish that in our search we weren’t so eager to fill the void that we would choose to latch onto what is first, rather than what is real.