Friday, November 30, 2012


The Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, center, was congratulated
by Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu.
(Photo courtesy of NY Times)

(Friday November 30, 2012, New York, NY)  Exactly 65 years after the day in 1947 that the United Nations voted for the “Partition Plan”, formally known as United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181: "Plan of Partition with Economic Union" which was intended to release the region known as “The Holy Land” or “Palestine” from the British Mandate that had overseen (effectively governed) the region since the League of Nations adopted the Balfour Declaration that was implemented in 1923, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) voted to officially recognize the State of Palestine. While many regard this as nothing more than a “meaningless, symbolic gesture”, it has a far more profound significance.

Since the time of the initial British Mandate in 1917, neither the Jewish or Palestinian people were pleased with the arrangement and, as the community of sovereign nations has witnessed time and time again, the concept of a “Two State Solution”, one Palestinian, the other Israeli, has remained just that - a concept, a painfully elusive concept that has taken an unknown number of lives, kept the entire Middle East region captive to the perpetual Arab/Israeli conflict in Israel; fomented violence, terrorism, and created a seemingly intractable scenario with Israel keeping the Palestinians under iron-fisted oppression and, arguably “occupation” for generations.  Whether yesterday’s historic vote is just a symbolic gesture or a real, concrete “first step” towards an ultimate mutually agreeable solution remains to be seen.

That this vote occurred so soon after the latest military engagement between the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the militant faction, Hamas, who launched long range missiles from their base in The Gaza Strip into Israeli cities, is no coincidence.  That it transpired on the annually observed International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is just that – a coincidence.  It appears that this most recent flare up and violent exchange between IDF and Hamas was the proverbial “tipping point” that prompted the UNGA action. 


Before the existence of any laws made by man there existed a set of natural phenomenon, as immutable and pure as life itself.  It took thousands of years of observation, pondering, calculating and intense study and experimentation until some of these phenomenon could be codified in a body of laws.  The Laws of Nature contain within them the Laws of Physics and Thermodynamics. 

Some of the basic Laws of Physics are familiar.  Those simple statements we may have encountered in a high school science class that inform govern the mechanics and machinations of the known universe from the galactic scale to the sub atomic realm.  Sir Isaac Newton discovered the mathematical symmetry that is requisite of all physical laws  such as, “An object that is at rest will stay at rest unless an unbalanced force acts upon it” and “An object that is in motion will not change its velocity unless an unbalanced force acts upon it.”  Since the days of Newton a body of laws have been amassed that explain physical phenomenon such as motion, speed, velocity, entropy, energy and a host of related natural activity.

Man began to create, implement and enforce laws of his own construct since the dawn of civilized societies.  There were laws of religion that varied from tribe to tribe and lead to the development of organized religions.  Laws governing society, trade, banking, civil governance and criminality arose as man flourished.  The old Latin document, The Magna Carta, written in 1215, remains the bedrock of civil and criminal law in many western nations to this day.

Laws begot more laws; as societies became increasingly sophisticated and complex still more laws were more written and implemented.  While the Laws of Nature had always existed awaiting discovery, other laws were crafted out of ambiguous and often dubious whims of those in authority.  Some of the recently defined “laws” of Mans creation are informal but ring so true in our lives that we have elevated them into certainty.  Murphy’s Law is an example as is the Law of Unintended Consequences.  It appears whether one accepts that as truisms, one of the Laws of Unintended Consequences was proven in the cavernous UNGA chamber yesterday and Israel was its victim.

In a disturbingly cyclical pattern Israel has found itself unleashing the full might and fury of those it occupies.  A few crude missiles fired into Israel from Lebanon, The West Bank or Gaza, and hundreds of retaliatory airstrikes from the mighty Israeli Air Force reduce block after block of Palestinian homes and shops to smoldering rubble usually, if not always, claiming the lives of unknown innocent lives of Palestinian men, women, children the elderly and infirm.  The brutal disproportionality of the “Israeli response” is so obvious and grossly inconsistent with International Law that it appears, finally, the world community has mustered the resolve to make a loud and clear statement, “Enough.”  For Israel the Law of Unintended Consequences has boomeranged home. 


Israel is unaccustomed to such a strong rebuke.  They have operated with callous, malicious impunity outside the confines of International Law as the ungrateful beneficiary of the largess, sympathy and inexplicably unshakable allegiance of the United States.  No matter the cause or atrocity, despite all the subsequent UN resolutions passed since Resolution 181, Israel has existed comfortably behind the protection and influence of the United States.    And as every country, politician , world leader, head of state, observer, journalist or intellectual has painfully learned, to cross Israel, to in any way, shape or form criticize the Israeli governments and practices is to not only invite strong often ugly retaliation but also to automatically be branded as “Anti-Semitic.”  The unreasonable, vociferous almost pathological reaction by each and every Israeli Administration is finally becoming apparent for its transparency, disingenuousness, and moral inconsistency.

There is a glaring morbid irony inherent in the Israeli policies and practices towards the Palestinians for the last 65 years.  One could reasonably think that a people that have themselves endured atrocities and genocide on a massive scale would be the most sensitive to the plight of other beleaguered people.  There is no denying that the Jewish people did face virtual extinction during the reign of the Nazi regime from 1939 until the end of World War II in Europe in 1945.  The “Holocaust” remains one of the darkest chapters of pure evil in the annals of history.  Having been the innocent victims of an almost demonically inspired “Final Solution” to eradicate them from the lands within Hitler’s maniacal reach, does not give them license now to occupy, oppress, and hold hostage an equally beleaguered People.  To constantly invoke their tragic history as justification for their aggressive apartheid policies not only diminishes their own painful past but has become irrelevant to the issues that demand resolutions today.  The Jewish state and the Zionist Movement have done more to exploit their own past than any other religion and people. 

Israel has used the brutal episodes in Jewish history as the rationale, the actual reason for their behavior.  Yes, other Middle East countries have, at one time or another, gone to war with Israel, many deny her right to exist to this day.  But, as the years have melded into decades and generations of Palestinians have grown up in deplorable conditions, Israel has become a formidable military power with a nuclear capability which they adamantly refuse to admit to.  They are no longer in any danger of “extinction”; never again will a country of coalition of hostile neighbors decide to square off against the highly trained, superiorly armed IDF.  So pulling out the tattered and torn trump card of the Holocaust is a bogus ploy that most Jews should find offensive if not insulting and demeaning to the relatives they lost to the horrors of notorious places such as Dachau, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Buchenwald, and all the other hideous facilities built and operated by the Nazi’s at which they could achieve their diabolical aim.


The world will watch and wait anxiously to see what happens next in that hotly contested, ancient land so infused with history, religions, and far too much spilled blood.  Early indications are that Israel will continue to be belligerently petulant and, as a result of yesterday’s UNGA vote quickly approved the expansion of “settlements” in the West Bank.  Not only is this far removed from any sign of what the community of nations proclaimed loudly and clearly, but also demonstrates their recalcitrance towards conciliation and desire to work in furtherance of their oft stated but never achieved goal of a “Two State Solution.”

But, the world is watching perhaps as never before.  Israel is poised at a junction although she may fail to realize this new harsh fact.  She has choices to make that transcend her domestic politics, shine a new high wattage light on her actions, and place the onus squarely on the shoulders of her leaders.

Perhaps the world will be relieved and pleasantly surprised when Israel matures under the scrutiny of the wider world and takes earnest, tangible efforts in the rocky direction of the long sought Two State Solution.  The world can only watch and pray.  The Palestinians can celebrate again tonight buoyed by the fact that finally the United Nations has heard their anguished cries.  But, time will tell. 



Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2012 © All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, November 28, 2012



Somebody somewhere asked a question.  There is probably another somebody asking that very same question at this moment.  It is a question asked looking pleadingly into eyes just as lost as those of the asker, just as anguished and puzzled, confused and frightened.

Sometimes the question is asked to walls, floors or ceilings in dimly lit hospital rooms where the measure of a life hanging in the balance is marked by the cadence of the machinery of modern medicine.  The question has been asked angrily looking through tears into a starry night, or humbly in a chapel cast in shadows with the flickering flames of hundreds of votive candles arrayed at the base of statues of unfamiliar saints dancing on cold stone walls, empty wooden pews and what feels like an empty chamber mockingly devoid of any sign of Divinity. The acoustics of an empty place of worship are such that each stifled sob, each muttered prayer, each sniffle and swipe of a tissue to clear tears from the cheeks annoyingly echoes as if the grief that brought the asker to that place is inappropriate. 

It has been asked by a Mom sitting alone on the empty bed where her child once slept; slept before some demonic disease possessed her and took her away.  It has been asked by a Dad pacing in the harsh fluorescent light of an emergency waiting room as his wife fights for life just feet away.  It has been asked while gazing unseeingly at a gravestone marking the small plot of earth where a loved one was interred. 

It is a question as old as mankind, as primal; primitive even, as are the forces of nature that compel it.  It is question that has been asked of every deity, every god or source of worship by people of every race, creed, faith and belief.  It is a universal question but most sincerely asked solitarily. 

It is a question born in that ill-defined yet distinctly human organ where heart and soul share a blood supply; where the arteries coursing with raw, unbridled emotions have been oxygenated with the corpuscles of love so strong, so deep, so elemental that it threatens the life of the asker. 

It is an incongruously simple question, a succinct, almost too small a plea for as answer so large, so beyond reach, so elusive and cruelly unattainable.  It is that one word question that can be asked from the strain of heart clenching, soul wrenching bitterness and despair that is the sole accompanier of death.  It is, of course, “Why”?

*****     *****

This simple question is asked of relatives and friends; of Priests, Rabbis, Imams, Shamans, Pastors, Preachers, doctors, and Mullahs.  But the question being asked of Another, of someone or something that we cannot begin to approach directly in our unvarnished pain, anger and anguish.  The Christian is probably asking it of God or Jesus Christ.  The Jew is posing the question to Yahweh, Jehovah or He who is yet to come.  The Muslim asks Allah, Ahura Mazda or Allah Baha’i.  Hindus may ask Brahma, Vishnu or Shiva.  Others ask it of an Ultimate Reality or a Force, a Life Spirit, Prime Mover, Supreme Being, or Alpha and Omega.  Still there are those who don’t beg the question to a Deity just some ephemeral, ill-defined Higher Power.  The universality of humans innate need to believe in something “Other”, something “Greater”, something responsible for all that there is in the universe is either proof that our brains are merely hardwired for the “concept” of a God or that a Divine Entity does in fact exist.  Either way, we ask the “why?” because there HAS TO BE  a reason, right?  What sadistic cosmic thread could weave such a vicious trail through time and ultimately snag my child, my wife, my husband?   

Our need to know and understand all that transpires in the often jagged contours of our lives is more than a utilitarian artifact of possessing such a sophisticated brain.  Neurons, axons, neurochemicals, synaptic activity and Nano sparks of electricity have allowed us to conquer nature, understand the cosmos, develop civilizations, cultures, societies, art in all its creative forms and live longer than even those just two generations over our shoulder.  The mighty human brain has produced, inspired, made, manufactured, constructed, invented, cured and put us at the apparent apogee of life on Earth.  Yet, for all that, despite all we know and can do we remain insignificant and infantile in our pain and ignorance.

*****     *****

We can be humble in our pain, rendered every state from anger to puzzlement by our ignorance.  All we are left with in our darkest times is the question and, expecting an answer, a moment of clarity that strikes the Soul like a bullet made of the most brilliant diamond and, at some point, begrudgingly, defeated, or just bone weary,  we realize it is not to be. 

But there is an answer.  It is not the answer we seek, we need to make the wretchedly pointless somehow more acceptable but, it is an answer.  It comes from within the Articles of Faith.  Faith, that other mysterious phenomenon, that hybrid core between superstition and Belief the circuitry of which we seem to be born with.  But Faith is not just another defining attribute of the human brain; it is not just one more capacity of our large frontal lobes nor is it knowledge acquired as are the stale facts of history.  It transcends knowledge as it does doubt.  It provides solace and comfort while requiring the expenditure of what may be just vapors of fuel in the tanks of emotional reserve.  Faith.

Perhaps we’ll lose some here; maybe this is the juncture that separates some of us from others.  Just as it has been said that “There are no atheists in foxholes”, that folks look for Divine Intervention in times of peril than so too is it that there are few atheists in mourning.  No.  Despite the fact that they may have adhered to and professed allegiance to an atheistic or agnostic practical worldview for most of their lives, when death visits and takes what is theirs they find faith as something to which their anger can be directed.  They ask the question as does everyone at some time or another but they ask it mockingly, snidely, with a sneer cursing a God they’d never believed in or cared to.  That is a lonely place.  As the old Jesuit axiom advises, “It’s better to believe than not.  If there is no God, well, nothing has really been lost.  But, if there is a God and you did not believe, you might wind up wishing you had.”    This may sound like a cheap advertisement for some cheap generic faith; maybe that is really all that is needed.  After all, who doesn’t want their Sunday’s free for leisure, to conduct their lives as they see fit, to be intellectually superior to those who may be foolish enough to have Faith and, ^^^gulp^^^ actually believe there is something more to all of this, that our lives are not for naught, that there is so much more than meets the eye or can be grasped by the mind?

 Faith: the belief in the unseen, the unknown, the unknowable.  Faith that someone or something is watching, listening and caring about us.  Faith demands reciprocity.  If we believe that God watches over us and hears our prayers, then we must behave in accordance with a certain set of principles be they codified in the Torah, Koran or Bible or any similar sacred text.  We are supposed to worship and honor our Creator, get in good favor with Him or Her so, when we find ourselves in times of trouble we can kneel before our God and ask a favor, ask for forgiveness, mercy, relief from pain or anything else we deem worthy of Divine Intervention.  Faith, despite its reciprocal component is essentially a one way street, an “all or nothing” proposition.  Since faith is blind, we have no way of “knowing” in temporal or conclusive terms that God exists, we just have to believe.  That’s it, no ifs, ands or buts.  Faith can be our anchor in a roiling sea or a bastard notion we care not to associate with all the time, if ever. 

*****     *****

Faith has a counterpart, of a sort, a force as intangible yet felt when present; a pull akin to gravity that bonds people immutably.  That force is Love.  Love, in a manner is Faith personified.  We’re talking that strain of Love that cannot be defined or constrained within the confining boundaries of romance.  No; we address the Love that allows another, with ease and peace, to sacrifice their own life for one they love.  It is the Love a Mother has for a child, a child for one he or she trusts, for a person whose absence would ever so slightly alter the axis and orbital tilt of our world.

Many, many years ago while the first Irish-Catholic President was residing in the White House a young boy asked his Dad a question.  These were the days when Cops directed traffic in dress blues donning white gloves at the intersections in front of Catholic churches throughout the Boroughs on Sunday mornings.  The young boy held his Dad’s hand, both of them freshly bathed and scrubbed and wearing their Sunday best.  They were both hungry from having fasted since going to Confession the night before and abstaining with the intent of receiving Holy Communion the next morning at Mass.

The boy had been troubled throughout most of the previous week.  Every morning as he and his siblings dressed for school the old Zenith radio broadcast the NYC on-air institution with the host John Gambling, known as “Rambling with Gambling” on WOR-AM.  This was the same station that would air “Bob and Ray” on Friday evenings.
The young boy was curious why all the songs he heard playing through the static and city noise in the street below all seemed to be about love.  So, with the gentle familiar scents of Aqua Velva and an El Producto cigar wafting by the boy’s nose, he stood with his Dad waiting to cross the street and asked, “Dad, why are so many songs about love?”  His Dad paused just long enough for a puff on that fragrant cigar and replied, “Because that is all there really is.  That is the most important thing in our lives.”

So two of the most essential human elements, a pair of forces that defy logic and reason and have both a “blind” feature to them is what we are left with when we ask the question. 

There is an answer but no one really wants to hear it.  It seems far too perverse, cruel, even, for the answer to be so trite.  The answer coming from the Great Beyond, from that omnipotent Prime Mover is “Why not?”  That is it, that’s all He’s got to say about it.  After all, as so many of us grew up being taught, He has a Plan, a Divine Plan for each of us and a Big Picture we are each a part of but we are not allowed to know the particulars.  Yes, we are actors in in a millennia long running drama, part tragedy, part comedy, often absurd, ironic, frustrating and quite apparently without rhyme or reason.  Faith requires us to believe this; not just give lip service to it but to believe it in our hearts, even when they are fractured by grief, cold with bitterness, and beating with a subdued fury at the unfairness of it all. 

Faith is the only force in the universe that permits that almost insulting, callous answer to make sense.  Well, maybe not sense.  But, Faith puts the question in perspective after whatever heartache that drew the “why” question from the hollows of our bleeding souls cast us adrift into an abyss of insufferable pain where there exists no light or perspective.

Faith can serve as a rudder for the Soul and Love a rudder for the Heart, that metaphorical but oh so real heart not that pulsating lump of myocardial tissue.  The Soul is also a metaphoric designation for our essence or spirit, that which makes us “us”.  Metaphors aside, the inability to anatomically locate our Heart and Soul is no more proof that they don’t exist as is the absence of evidence proof of evidence of absence.  We all acknowledge, at least on some level, that there is something more to us, in us than the complex and wondrous collection of cells, organs, systems and the magic of life they orchestrate collectively. Some, reluctant to even consider the notion of Heart and Soul are likely to ascribe all things “humans” as products of the Mind; another of these intangible constituent elements.  The brain/mind conundrum is as old as science, religion and philosophy yet still remains a tantalizingly elusive as yet unanswerable not amicable to yielding it secrets to modern medical science despite the monumental multidisciplinary studies.

But, we digress.  That is alright.  We’re discussing some pretty heady stuff here and if we find ourselves wandering off on tangents or walking around in metaphysical circles, so be it.  Actually, it could really be no other way.  Faith, Love, Soul, Heart; mind/brain:  Why and why not?  Still we are not too far afield from where we began.   After all, we began with somebody asking a question and come across a few of our own.  It is human nature to be inquisitive, to seek understanding, explanation, to know.  And now we find that two of the primal forces that guide our lives, Faith and Love pose more questions than answers; that our Heart and Soul are part of this mystical nexus where raw emotion become infused with the oxygen of passion, the basest of feelings exchange the spiritual detritus of sorrow and loss with the corpuscles carrying gracious solace and perhaps acceptance. 

Just as the physiologic processes silently at work conducting all the arduous metabolic activity, the myriad gaseous and chemical exchanges, the host of specialized organs functioning in concert to keep us alive and well do so to maintain the state of homeostasis so too that nexus of Faith and Love, Heart and Soul engage in their own complex dynamic towards the goal of achieving another homeostatic condition; one where we haven’t the burden of a troubled mind, heavy heart, and soul sickness that makes us cry out in anger and in pain, “Why”? 

Why not?

For all the misery and sorrow that can accompany a life it would all be for naught, it would be absolute cosmic cruelty if not for Faith and Love.  Our pain would not be searing if not for Love, our cries not simply lost in the howling tempest of grief and despair if not for Faith. Faith and Love are worth it all and without them we are truly as fragile tumbleweeds exposed to the whims of the wind.

 Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2012 © All Rights Reserved