A quick personal note before entering the mists of transcendent vacation.
We visited the limitless horizon of identical strip malls that blight the suburbs of the Imperial City. Our contribution to civilization and a pristine continent. While stalled in a parking lot clogged with single moms jockeying with gigantic SUVs, we noticed a man emerging from a van. He struggled to wrestle his legs out the door, attempting to navigate his dual crutches as well. It was clear his legs were not just wounded but severely and permanently damaged. With him was a boy of 8-10 or so. They both looked from the subcontinent or Middle East.
We hesitated. There is an awkward microsecond for the Stiftung — we want to offer help, but then wonder if offering help might be perceived as intrusive. We plunged ahead. The man, in his late 40s, perhaps, declined, smiled and said all was well.
We wandered into the various front companies that merely market Chinese exports and looked for vacation flotsam and jetsam. 30 minutes or so later we headed back to the car. We saw the same man and young boy 100 yards away hobbling across one of the ugly highways that bisect strip mall Hell. Temperature was circa 95 plus.
He looked at me, looked down, looked at the boy and then me again. Finally, hobbling up to me, he asked me if my offer of help was still valid. Out of breath, he said he left his keys in his van. (If you know Imperial City suburbs, cabs are more rare than Chickenhawks serving in Iraq). The Stiftung paused for a second to see what our “gut” told us. We heard nothing back so we said yes and offered a cell phone. Instead, the man said his apartment was less than a 1/2 mile away. We could see it. Could I drive him there to get the spare key?
As you know Dear Reader, the Stiftung is not completely 100% unfamiliar from “diversions” and the like. We’ve seen Vin Diesel movies. But here, looking at this man and this boy, with a “gut” that said nothing, we made an instant call. No problem. All three of us got into the Stiftungmobile ™ to his apartment down the street.
Here’s the damning part. He introduced himself as “Adbul”. These particular stripmalls are surrounded by gleaming faceless office buildings and guard stations with metal gates, some renovated, some newly built. (Just so you know, deliberately calibrated non-ostentation is the NEW ostentation for XYZ outfits, in our brave new blurred public/private world. It’s all so transitory in the end).Abdul’s English was excellent. Was he a video clerk? We could have cared less. We saw a hot guy with ruined legs and a 9 year old boy and nothing ahead of us but vacation.
Trip to his apartment took about 2 minutes. His wife stood on the foyer curb with the van spare key, carefully clothed and mannered as an Arabic woman in public would be. We got the key and began the return to the strip mall.”Abdul” immediately launched in a deeply embarrassing monologue insisting that he and his nephew were “good people”, that his wife was devout, but that he “Abdul” drank liquor, did not pray, and had no deeply religious views, all while thanking me over again and again.
It was a long, long 2 minutes. The Stitung told him not to worry. Over and over. It continued as he exited the car, which took time with his two full crutches. Somehow we just wanted him to know that everything was “All Good” as the kids say. Still he persisted. He wanted me to know. He was safe.
We try not to foist our personal life on you. For many reasons. One of which is that your personal life is probably far more interesting. And frankly, ours the Bill Gates of old likely would declare scathingly is just “random thinking”.
But here’s a small slice of who is typing at (with?) you. Our spiritual life we will keep private. But we’re technically part of a mainstream faith in general/loose terms. Our belief is that all of us are more than mere chemical chain reactions. And that Spirit (human and otherwise) is separate from the material and came from some source — called Creator, God, Buddha, Allah, etc. We also believe that Creation in the beginning and end is empathy.
We know no other word for it. Nor do we we mean to foreclose analytical, scientific or other approaches. Or mandate emotional, mystical embraces. But our internal compass is that empathy is in the end literally the true Alpha and Omega. All the while wholly seeing what seems to be a pitiless universe, galaxy, planet, Nation, etc. down to strip mall development.
So back to “Abdul”. His fear of mistrust another small victory for the Warlord, Cheney, A.G.A.G, the Neocons and all of them. Yes, the thousands of dead. Yes, the wounded. Yes, the maimed. Yes, the corruption, the lies, the cynicism. But also the deliberate stoking of the basest elements of Human Nature that stab at us every day in a parking lot. With “Abdul” today, another part of that “mini death”.
Should the Stiftung’s sophomoric musings come even within a billion trillion light years of “what’s going down” re The Real Deal, we hope that the Warlord, Cheney — all of them — reap what they have sown somehow should there be something beyond this Veil of Tears. Their legacy for imposing the same literally upon millions if not billions.
Now, truly off to holidays. May yours be filled with light, joy . . . and true empathy.
[UPDATE] We switched to the more commonly used Petraeus above. Some other nits fixed.