Shortly after the 9/11/2001 attack, I traveled to London for a visit and a bit of tourism. I was met with compassion, kind condolences from cab drivers, store clerks, and restauranteurs. The comfort I felt was warm, deep and reassuring. Thank you for that.
Part of my visit included a walk through the extraordinary St. Paul’s Cathedral. I was overwhelmed by the beauty and history of this magnificent space. And then, beyond the High Altar, at the east end of the cathedral, I came to the American Memorial Chapel, a space rebuilt after having been destroyed in the Blitz. These words plainly seen: To The American Dead of the Second World War from the People of Britain.
I wept uncontrollably at the power of these words inlaid on the marble floor . Even as I write about the experience, my throat tightens and my eyes tear up.
My recently deceased father fought in WWII. He suffered horrible war memories until the day he died. I will forever honor the twenty-eight thousand men who died at Normandy. They will never have born children… children like me whose fathers’ only lasting memories were of his daughter and the horrors of that war.
Londoners, all of U.K., Europe, are hurting right now. I want you to know my heart weeps for you and your loss. I want you to know that your resilience is an inspiration and that we love you.
Today, on the anniversary of D-Day, I cannot abide the behavior of a U.S. executive branch that dishonors itself with insensitive tweets.
I am a humanist, but I would love to be a humorist. I believe Humans are rare and odd creatures. Our world is in turmoil. People are being murdered, hungry, enslaved, mistreated, and by no other than our own hands. There is nothing new here; this state of being has always been so, evidenced in our short history on the planet. Now, the horrors are communicated globally at breath-taking speeds.
To counter the ill will, hatred, and despair, I have been thinking, instead, about what delights us. The art of humor: distinctly human, cultivated over generations; sometimes used to communicate complex ideas, other times to relieve tension.
The art of making people laugh with words is one talent I wish I possessed. I love a good joke and a well turned phrase. I am especially fond of the paraprosdokian: a figure of speech in which the latter part of the phrase changes the direction of the original meaning in a manner that surprises. Here are some of my favorite examples:
War doesn’t determine who is right…only who is left. – Bertrand Russell (? maybe)
Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening…but this wasn’t it. – Groucho Marx
You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas.