Our Nation Under Attack

When I was nine years old my father had a horseback riding accident, broke his back and almost died. He never fully recovered. Flashes of disparate memories are all I have left from that time. The beautiful gold cat pin my grandmother gave me with an emerald belly, ruby eyes and when I lost it years later, I felt a deep inexplicable sorrow that lasted for decades. It wasn’t until many, many years later that I realized I associated that pin with my father’s accident.

The visits to the hospital and the sickly, antiseptic smell, the sound of the rubber soled shoes the nurses wore as they approached his room, the sound of his labored breathing, the bright California sunlight in the parking lot of the Stanford Hospital, and the sense that nothing would ever be the same, these are the things I remember now when I think back to that time.

Nothing would ever be the same.

And it wasn’t.

In that moment when I learned of his accident, when I understood how serious it was, when I heard the words, “He might not make it” and “if he does, he’ll be paralyzed for the rest of his life” and all the other pronouncements made, then reevaluated and revised, and the realization that these doctors, whom I had believed knew everything, perhaps knew very little when it came to predicting my father’s future.

Much, much later, as an adult, I would again be reminded of how little people, even highly regarded people, actually know. These very people we are taught to admire, respect and believe are not always as they would like us to believe. After all they, like all of us, are human, fallible, imperfect and often far more complex than the stories we like to read and hear about. But most people want desperately to believe that things are simpler than they often are.

Yesterday, here in the United States people expressed shock and horror as we watched scenes of our capitol under attack. It was a gruesome reminder of how things that have been percolating for a long time can suddenly shift, how anger and resentment can propel people to behave in awful ways, how acts of violence are justified, how one side blames the other and then the other side retaliates and on and on it goes.

It’s easy to say we need to be kind to one another, but so much harder to put into practice.

A friend of mine, James Cone, someone I admired tremendously and who spent every Thanksgiving with us for many years until he died, once described to me what it was like growing up during the Jim Crow era in the deep south. He told me how he would watch his father leave the house each morning and each morning he would wonder whether this was going to be the last time he saw him. At the time I said, I can’t know what that must have been like, but I can try to imagine. I loved that man. He was a beautiful soul. I asked him once, while we discussed the rampant racism that continues to rip through this country, “How do we change this?” James said, “Love. The answer is always love. It has to be.”

What would James have said had he been here to watch our capitol come under attack? What would he have said as he watched all those people wandering around the Capitol building, knowing that had their skin color not been white, a very different scene would have played out? I can’t know for sure, but I will repeat what he once told me, not so many years ago.

“Love. The answer is always love. It has to be.”

Protests & Listening in NYC

Protests & Listening in NYC

“So in a lot of ways, what has happened over the last several weeks is challenges and structural problems here in the United States have been thrown into high relief. They are the outcomes not just of the immediate moments in time, but they’re the result of a long history of slavery, Jim Crow, redlining, and institutionalized racism that too often had been the plague, the original sin of our society. And in some ways, as tragic as these past few weeks have been, as difficult and scary and uncertain as they’ve been, they’ve also been an incredible opportunity for people to be awakened to some of these underlining trends, and they offer an opportunity for us to all work together to tackle them, to take them off, to change America and make it live up to its highest ideals.”

President Barak Obama – June 3, 2020

“Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of colour to deal with it. It’s up to all of us – Black, white, everyone – no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets.”

Michelle Obama
Fifth Avenue, New York City

“Dehumanizing people debases us all; humanity is beautifully and almost infinitely diverse. The bonds of our common humanity must overcome the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices.”

President Jimmy Carter – June 3, 2020
Union Square This Morning

Articles I have found helpful:




Chaos in New York City

Chaos in New York City

New York City prides itself in being on the forefront of whatever is going on. Right now that means being in the middle of the collective outrage and heartbreak of much of the country. It is impossible to write about anything right now and not say something about what’s going on right outside our front door, the same thing that’s been going on for centuries. So I’ve compiled a list of resources that I’ve found helpful and that perhaps others might find helpful as well.




“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

Martin Luther King Jr.
One of Lewis Miller’s floral creations