“A word I want to see written on my tomb: I am alive like you, and I am standing beside you. Close your eyes and look around, you will see me in front of you.” — Gibran
On this dark, New Moon time, it is Lebanon, and its tragedies, that need honoring. They are a cautionary tale for the rest of us. We face the potential for even greater tragedies if we don’t address our corruptions. The coronavirus crisis, and the economic destabilization triggered by the lack of leadership are stark reminders. Those who’ve read my memoir or poetry know what happened in the former “Paris of the Middle East.” You understand what lessons I mean.
Two weeks ago the port of Beirut erupted in a massive, unprecedented explosion. It left 300,000 people homeless, nearly 200 dead, and 5,000 wounded. Silos containing 85% of the nation’s grain supply were also destroyed. The accidental eruption of tons of carelessly stored ammonium nitrate, impounded from a Russian ship seven years ago, has caused $15 billion in damages and there is no money for repairs. This is a tiny country, already reeling from decades of war, financial scandals, hyperinflation, and a collapsing economy. Renewed street protests forced the government to resign.
And a verdict finally came today, from a special tribunal in the Hague, concerning another Beirut explosion fifteen years ago. That Valentine’s Day blast in 2005 killed Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 21 others. The perpetrators were Hezbollah operatives. They have been judged but have yet to be captured or punished. In the aftermath of those crimes, there were some positive changes. The Syrian Army, who occupied Lebanon for 30 years, departed. But not long after their return to Syria, civil war began there. Now Syrian refugees in Lebanon outnumber Lebanese citizens.
I often return to the writing of Khalil Gibran (1883-1931). The Lebanese philosophical essayist, novelist, poet, and artist was quoted at my high school graduation in Beirut, in 1972. He spent time in the US, but our commencement speaker did not tell us Gibran had died (40 years earlier) in New York City, of alcoholic despair, at age 48. Instead the focus was on Gibran’s trans-Atlantic success and his best known book The Prophet. Translated into a hundred languages, it has never been out of print since its publication in 1923. Yet how many have heeded Gibran’s cautionary example and advice? It is time to do something constructive while we still can.
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain…”
We have almost reached the Journey Law place on the Wisdom Wheel. Time to celebrate the birthdays of our Virgo friends (August 23 – September 22) whose Birth Law is Journey. Click here to learn more about your Birth Law and its balancer. Next year I will be living under the Journey Law as we all do at ages 13, 40, and 94. In our next newsletter we will share some news about how to plot your lifetime Journeys using the wisdom of the Wheel. And how learning to live by the Laws relates to cleaning up corruption.
Since the memoir won an IPPY award, we have kicked things up several notches, with the help of The Jenkins Group and other initiatives on social media. Once again I must thank many of you for buying additional copies to give to friends. Word of mouth is the best way to reach new readers. Even if you write one sentence reviews, about the history you learned from reading my books, on Amazon and Goodreads, it will help a lot.
The poetry collection Measuring Distances is available but we wait for the threats from the coronavirus to cease before we have a proper launch party.
We had a far ranging discussion, in our masks outdoors, at the book club meeting, in Providence. I want to thank Katherine Touafek for the distinct pleasure. If your book club selects The Importance of Paris, I will attend via Zoom if we cannot do it in person. Contact me for set up. To prompt group discussions, see the list of questions, in the back of the memoir. If your book club orders copies in bulk I will mail them at a discount.
Several ongoing Zoom groups are meeting regularly:
Every Saturday morning 10:30 am, Westerly Writing group
Every other Wednesday evening 6pm, Book Writers group
Every Monday evening 7pm, Zoom Lodge
Next Lodge ceremony is Sunday, September 20th in honor of Autumn Equinox. See latest updates concerning Covid restrictions on our HOPE HOUSE Facebook page. We continue to experiment with having a limited number of regular participants doing their own rounds
Stay safe. And be brave. Defend principles not personalities.
“We felt no joy in seeing Vienna undone and the Germans broken, but rather anguish. Not compassion, but a larger anguish, which was mixed up with our own misery, with the heavy threatening sensation of an irreparable and definitive evil, which was present everywhere. Nestling like gangrene in the guts of Europe and the world. The seed of future harm.” ― Primo Levi, If This Is a Man • The Truce