Every past has a future.
The best way to resolve any problem in the human world is for all sides to sit down and talk.
-The Dalai Lama
A humanitarian aid worker friend wrote to say he's looking forward to "moving through" 2024 with me. I knew what he meant, of course, as the challenges of the year we are entering are manifold and obvious, both nationally and internationally. Unspoken in the text is a worry about his colleagues still in the field. However well trained they are, the work they do is more dangerous than ever before, and hundreds will not return home, or return home in body bags, or as wounded as soldiers and innocent civilians in body and spirit.
The wars on Planet Earth will not quit, natural disasters abound, more so with climate change. A quake in Japan this morning, as I write. And I write about all of it for this blog, for the local paper when they have revenue to pay me, and in essays for various journals. Every writer has a subject, or more than one subject, and as a child of war myself, these are mine—war and social justice, mainly. My attempts to write more "light-heartedly," as one or two well-meaning friends have suggested, have failed. Even if an item in the paper makes me smile, that smile is Brechtian in its absurdity; it's a smile with clouds hovering. The other day, for example, I read that an opera singer lost her voice while she was pregnant. I don't know why I thought that was funny, because it really isn't, but I laughed anyway. Even more hilarious was the news that a drone has been invented to capture pathogens in the plumes of Orcas, diagnose their ailments, and treat them underwater. PS There are only about 75 Orcas left in the hemisphere where I reside. Or, the news that a man on death row who refused to die by lethal injection will now be executed by nitrogen gas and has asked his pastor to keep him company in the death chamber. His pastor has agreed to sacrifice his life, if necessary.
No writer can make any of this up. Or maybe they can.
Today, the first day of 2024, I am back at my desk working. One of the three books I wrote during Covid is in galley and I have had to make corrections, which I do not enjoy. The process is pernickety as the Brits would say, though not a cause for complaint, or even a minor lamentation. And I'm waiting for a text from a friend. We're walking up into the Minnewaska Ridge to celebrate the New Year in a wintry sunshine.
This blog is dedicated to the Hand-in-Hand Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel, a utopian experiment now 2000 Arab and Jewish children strong. This is their website: https://www.handinhandk12.org/