Sunday Morning Musings…

I don’t typically watch TV in the mornings. I prefer to slowly wake in the quiet, with a cup of coffee, and a few games of solitaire. I’m a lot like my dad in that way.

But this morning, I was checking in on a client, and the TV was on. And the story on CBS’s “Sunday Morning” got my attention.
CBS Sunday Morning logoThe editor-in-chief of Mad Magazine, John Ficarra, was talking about the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. It clearly was an event that shook him to his core, as I would imagine it does all journalists and satirists now…

Though I’m not a fan of, nor a regular reader of, Mad Magazine, I wanted to hear what he had to say.  He started with “When I was in college, a journalism professor once told me that freedom of the press is a freedom that has to be re-won every generation. I didn’t quite understand what he meant back then, but given the developments of the past few weeks, I do now.”

I was compelled to listen to every word, because I could, because I was interested in his thoughts and feelings, and because he had the right to say it.

And he said it well.

In case you missed it, here’s his segment, in its entirety.
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/mad-magazine-editor-on-the-hazards-of-satire/

I was reminded of what it really means to have “free speech,” and all that that entails. I was reminded that this country is full of screenwriters, journalists, songwriters, publicists, cartoonists, novelists, poets, stand-up comics, talk show hosts and more who, by their very nature, cannot help but spit out their thoughts, their ideas, their feelings, their stories, their opinions. And they should be allowed to do just that – because in this country, we all have that right.

Imagine being one of those staff members in Paris who, in their conference room at Charlie Hebdo, never saw it coming. Imagine being the family members and loved ones left behind who are now grieving the unthinkable, and trying to make sense of it all. Imagine the fear and torment running rampant now through that beautiful city, with the later events at the supermarket and printing factory.

Though three terrorists are dead, we all know there are more where they came from. Imagine the utter chaos, and the knot in the pit of every person’s stomach who was too close for comfort to these events, who wonder where they’ll strike next. Just imagine….

And then imagine a world where the terrorists win, and no one is brave enough to write or speak any more…

Could we be headed in that direction?

At the end of Ficarra’s segment, he signs off with this:
“By the simple act of appearing on camera denouncing the terrorists and defending the rights of cartoonists and satirists, would I be drawing a target on my back and the backs of my colleagues?
Unfortunately these days, those are not unfounded fears.
And the very fact that I had these fears? Score one for the terrorists.
On the other hand, come Monday morning, my staff and I will be back at work on the next issue of Mad.
What, us worry?”

As I type this, I think about all the things I’ve written in my lifetime – poems, songs, press releases, corporate annual reports, procedure manuals, website content, contracts, tributes to lost loved ones, and even the majority of my own non-fiction book…

And I’m reminded of how much I love the written word, and the freedom to write those words for all the world to see.

And I’m reminded of one of the greatest tools of this generation, which allows us to all communicate in ways unimagined before.

Mark Zuckerberg, and Facebook, provide a free place where people all over the world can express our thoughts, ideas, and feelings (within reason) without fear of retaliation. Thank you for allowing us to reconnect with friends and family, and to relive the memories through photos and the written word. Thank you for letting us connect with new friends, and network in ways we never could have imagined. I have used facebook to chat, with the written word, in real time with friends in Germany, Holland, Brazil, Mexico, and Finland. Where else could I do that?

Though the ads and seemingly constant algorithm changes are irritating, we try to overlook them. It’s the price we pay for having such a powerful tool with which to connect with the world.

And I’m grateful for Twitter, and the wide world of connections made possible by its inner workings. But as a writer, it’s a bit difficult to keep my thoughts to 140 characters. But we manage to get the point across even with that limitation.

And if we don’t agree with someone’s post, we have the right to simply look away, scroll right past it, or delete it. It’s not that hard…

How these terrorists felt it was their right to execute someone whose beliefs and ideas didn’t align with theirs is beyond my comprehesion. How does one live with oneself knowing that you took a life, not in self-defense, but because of twisted ideals and lack of morals?

Pure hatred drives them. And I believe there’s a special place in hell for people like that.

My youngest brother, Michael, visited Paris in 2013 and 2014, and he loves everything the city has to offer. And for years, he was the art director for a magazine. I can’t help but think of all the staff meetings he must have attended in their offices, discussing, planning, and designing their next issue. Did they ever think there would come a day when some of their colleagues, though an ocean away, would be killed for doing their jobs?

My heart aches for the people of Paris, and for writers everywhere…

Eiffel Tower by Michael Stephens(photo by Michael Stephens / http://2-michael-stephens.fineartamerica.com)

.

 

Advertisements

What are we thankful for?

It’s that time of year again, when we stop, step back from the weekly grind, and remember what we’re thankful for.
And it just seems fitting that I re-post something I wrote many Thanksgivings ago, because it still fits, and it’s all still very true…

——–

GRATITUDE

There is a day in this country set aside for giving thanks, yet every day I try to express my
appreciation for life and love and all that comes with it

My heart is full of gratitude for the friends who see me for who I am,
know my heart,      and stand by me as I stand in my truth

And I am grateful for the lessons learned from the disillusionment of
relationships that no longer serve me
and for each step of the unabashed movement toward my    higher purpose

I am grateful for the realizations in the aftermath that
nothing is as it seems
and that sometimes reality is merely an illusion

I am thankful for the liberation that comes with letting go, with no ill will
only appreciation for the time spent on that particular path
remembering that without honest and sincere communication –
the foundation upon which relationships are built        and maintained –
there is no real relationship

I am thankful for a year of dreams realized, of unimagined spiritual moments
shared with those to whom I don’t feel the need to explain

I am thankful for the journey to the mountaintop
for the extraordinarily breathtaking display of fall colors in Vermont
reminders of the beauty that is in and around us
humble reminders to keep open our eyes and our hearts

I give thanks for the compassion felt for those who don’t have the capacity
for those who can’t or won’t open themselves enough to truly love
and for the understanding that no one can love us until they truly love themselves

I am grateful for the true friends who love unconditionally
who love through it all and give of themselves expecting nothing in return

I am beholden to the men in my life who have caused my heart to flutter
and those who mangled it and left it for dead
for either way, they cause me to stop to remember the divine feminine in each of us

And I’m glad for the time I had with the most difficult of men
the ones whose anger and rage taught me what I will and will not tolerate

I thank humankind for the daily doses of pain and heartache that come,
sometimes relentlessly
teaching me, again,
that we all have an unlimited supply of patience, tolerance and love

I am thankful for the growth that comes from leaving behind old hurts
and frustrations and fears
old scars from childhood or wounds from recent battles
because it is in the tearing down that we are built back up

I am thankful for the voices of all humanity, and of those on the other side
who talk to me, in the daylight and in my dreams
whispering the secrets of the universe to me,
knowing I will carry them close to my heart

I am grateful for strangers, who upon approaching, aren’t afraid to make eye contact
who acknowledge the divine in me, as I do in them

I am grateful for the children, the tiny messengers of hope,
who reach inside me and touch my heart and awaken my soul in ways that
bring  me  to  my   knees

I am thankful for the memories of all my friends and enemies, here and on the other
side,
because the time they gave me and the lessons they taught me
will forever be part of me, part of who I am to be

I am thankful for the dark times and the tears that have come in the night
silently slipping out of their bottomless well, reminding me that I’m human

I can’t express enough gratitude for my family, who, though I don’t see them often
remind me of where this journey began, who recognize themselves in me,
as I do in them,
and who remind me of the innate potential in every moment, in every breath

I am grateful that I am never lonely, for there are always words to keep me company
words – the gifts given to us to aid in expressing our truest selves
and I’m grateful for the gift of freedom we have in this country to use those words

I am grateful for music, that sweet universal language that often speaks without words,
in times of intense emotion, reaching in and touching the very core of who we are

I thank the universe for the still, quiet moments
those fragments of time that allow communion with all that is and all that will be

And above all, I am thankful for
trust
and faith
and love
and knowing
for these are the things that sustain me
when all else
. . . . . . . . .. . . . . . .  . . f a l l s
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . a w a y

©Sunny Stephens  /  11-22-07

.

.

.

.

.