Saturday, May 30, 2015

Memorial Days

On May 23rd St. Mark's held a requiem eucharist for Bert Cooper. I photographed this eucharist. You can find my images of this event on Flickr at A Requiem Eucharist Celebration of Bert Cooper. He was a fine man who made many good contributions to our world. Quite a few people shared that impression. When he passed away he was 80 years old.

He had been born on December 2, 1934. When he was born my Uncle Dick was only 10 years old. My father was all of 21. I remember my father as a fine man I am proud to call Dad. Uncle Don was also a fine man I am glad I can count as a relative. What memories do I have of Uncle Dick? None -- unless you count comments by my parents. I have memories of relatives saying he was the smartest of the three brothers. My father and Uncle Don were, shall we say, exceptionally intelligent good men who I was glad to spend time with. I obviously spent much more time with Dad than Uncle Don, but I still remember how good both of them were.

Why don't I have memories of Uncle Dick? Uncle Dick was killed in the last days of World War II in Europe. Bert Cooper was only 10 years old. Uncle Dick was only 21. My father was only 32. My mother was only 29.

I sometimes think what contributions to not only my family but the larger world Uncle Dick would have made had the NAZIs surrendered on April 1, 1945 rather than May 8, 1945. He would have a been a very positive influence on my life. The year he spent at Rutgers he had been a mathematics major. It would have been wonderful to have someone with a mathematics degree to talk to when I was a boy growing up and getting interested in things like physics, astronomy, space exploration and more. He could have helped me actually understand the book by Eddington titled "Mathematical Theories of Relativity." That's just one thing he could have done.

These days we are asked to remember the contributions in defending our country what the good people (usually men) who died defending us from people like the NAZIs. I am quite willing to do that. But I also think about what Uncle Dick could have contributed if he had lived to 80, 90 or more. His contributions would have been far greater than what he could contribute from his birth in 1924 until his tragic death in 1945.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Pro Life? Pro Choice? Or Something Else?

Over the years I have heard much discussion and debate about abortion in the United States. I have even heard some from other countries.

Let me begin this posting with a few stories about my maternal grandparents. I remember both of them as good people with whom I enjoyed spending time.

My grandfather came to this country to work. He was a fine bricklayer. I still remember the home he and his friends built for the family. After he had been in the United States for awhile, he went back to England. Mom said it was because he had not found a woman to love and marry in the United States. Early in the 20th Century it was possible for working class men to travel back and forth across the Atlantic for work.

Back in England he got to know my grandmother. They fell in love and got married. At the party after their wedding, a friend of my grandfather's said to him "When are we going back to the States?" My grandmother then jumped into the conversation with the question to her now brand new husband "When are we going to the States?" The friend who started the conversation never returned to the States.

When Grandmom and Grandpop had been here awhile, a baby boy came along. They loved that baby boy -- as they loved me, a grandson who came along many years later. When that baby was a few months old, a flu epidemic went through the part of the States where my grandparents lived. Their baby boy caught the flu and died from it. That death devastated my grandparents. Grandmom even returned to England for awhile to recover from this tragedy.

Eventually Grandmom returned to the States and her loving husband. Another baby was born -- this time a girl. That baby died too -- after living 93 years and 4 months. Mom was a wonderful mother. She and Dad were two fine people who brought me to respect and like all kinds of people.

I have another entry on my blog about My Family. Let's just say people on my father's side of the family also sought to make life better for all.

I know some people who are strongly prolife. The ones I personally know are fine people. Kathryn Dietz Hichborn is the mother of five and the grandmother of still more. When I hear the term prolife, she is one person who comes immediately to mind because she is prolife in many ways. I enjoy our conversations, especially those in real life. Facebook and other social media have their place in our society, but they do have their limits in many ways.

I also know some people who are prochoice. They can be fine people as well. Some of them are women who personally seen or have experienced bad marriages. Some have been sexually assaulted. There is more, but I am trying to start a discussion.

Before Roe versus Wade abortion was illegal in the United States. That didn't mean it didn't happen. It just happened illegally. We've tried various prohibitions in this country. We made it illegal to sell alcoholic beverages for awhile. That was a disaster which did real damage to our country. Want to address problems with alcohol? Helping the people with the problems get better seems a like a better choice. The same things can be said regarding currently illegal drugs. Problems with gun violence? Gun control advocates bring up Sandy Hook, Aurora, Columbine and more. Courtesy of the Clinton administration we now have tough gun regulation on American military bases. In 2009 at Fort Hood a Muslim Army psychiatrist whom other Army psychiatrists had warned the Army about and who had been investigated by the FBI for ties to terrorists ran wild killing and wounding many before he was stopped by a civilian woman deputy sheriff who wounded him with her gun.

So what do I think we should be doing? Let's begin by helping good people have good lives. We should be teaching children how to have good lives and why those kinds of lives are better for them and for society. We can promote both the arts and sciences to help make our world a better one. We can help people have good families like the ones I knew growing up in New Jersey.