2002 in Review

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Two Thousand Two. It looks and sounds good: even, symmetrical. I felt good as it started, and I feel good as it ends. I had just enough illness [appendicitis in late February] to make me even more grateful for my usual, and continuing, very good health. I do notice, however, that at 58 I am taking things a bit slower. I enjoy sitting more and running less. I let myself sleep in or take naps. It feels luxurious. My work in the city seems to grow ever more fulfilling. And my alter-ego as a “country mouse” is a glorious time to read great books, or sit in my rocker and stare off into the infinite. I enjoyed sharing the glories of Gambier Island this summer with Doug from Toronto, David from Ottawa, Don from Santa Fe, and Eric from Miami. Eric and I are celebrating 30 years of brotherly friendship. We met in a gay bar in Berkeley early in 1973, and have been in almost weekly phone contact ever since, even though we’ve rarely lived in the same city. We are mutual confidants and counselors; he’s a wonderful support. At the same time as I am slowing down, paradoxically, I am becoming more fired up about world and local politics. I read the New York Times online almost daily, as well as keeping somewhat abreast of local issues. I have been saddened by the sharp veer to the right in the United States and here in British Columbia. Forty years ago, as I registered for the U.S. draft, Vietnam was looming on the horizon. I began to examine my soul about war. Having been raised by a proud veteran of WWII, I was brought up to “do my duty” for country. Yet my soul said that nationalism, which breeds war, is the real evil. Even at the tender age of 18, I knew in my heart that there really is no “them” — we are all “us.” Yet I felt too young to openly disagree with my parents, classmates, and national leaders. I dutifully trained as an Air Force pilot, and in 1970, at 26, headed west to fight “commies” in Vietnam. I had decided in my heart to draw a line: if ordered to drop a bomb or shoot someone, I would refuse. Mercifully, my job as a reconnaissance pilot never required me to make that awful choice. I played the role of warrior feeling deeply conflicted and sad. When I completed my “duty,” I moved to Berkeley and became active in anti-war marches, and am happy that the protests eventually brought an end to that misguided tragedy. I still believe war is not the answer: not then, not now. It is only to be used in the most extreme situations. It seems to me that American arrogance is breeding increasing resentment around the world. Military bullying is fanning the flames of hatred. True and lasting peace does not come from military might, but from the much harder work of building bridges of understanding and caring among all people. How can we in North America truly become good citizens of the world? Instead of billions for war, let us use our wealth and vast resources to help heal disease, to stop starvation, to reach out in friendship and caring to the neediest souls all around the world as well as here at home. Self-serving politicians use fear and war-mongering to bolster their standing. We must demand better of our leaders, or demand better leaders. If you share my deep concern about this administration’s eagerness for war, one organization I support is www.MovingOn.org    They are collecting e-petitions to “let the inspections work.” I have also written my U.S. Senators and Representative, and my Canadian Member of Parliament, saying I want the Iraq issue to be resolved by the collective wisdom of the community of nations through the U.N.—not by unilateral U.S. attacks. Here in beautiful B.C., our quality of life is rapidly being decimated by a new government, which is mimicking the Bush model. It is slashing taxes for the upper strata, while actually raising the revenue derived from the lower income half [through higher sales tax, user fees, transit fees, etc.] Spending on social services for health and education are being drastically cut, and the deficit is ballooning.  I have begun actively working to RECALL this government, and especially its leader, Gordon Campbell, in whose riding I reside. To learn more, and hopefully get involved, please visit www.RecallBC.com Even if you live in another riding, consider volunteering in the Point Grey riding to help UN-elect this disastrous Premier. If you live outside B.C., please pass on this web address to your B.C. friends and family. This so-called Liberal government must be stopped. Since my return from India nearly 2 years ago, I have wanted to simplify my life. I am doing less and enjoying it more. Living car-free has been a joy. I joined the car co-op, so that when I really need to use a car, there are several nearby I can reserve. If you are curious how the system works, visit www.cooperativeauto.net It’s a wonderful model, which is catching on in several major cities. This year, for the first time since my teens, I’ve lived “plane-free” as well. I decided I am content to stay closer to home, so the farthest I’ve gone is Seattle. I guess the India trip satisfied some of my wanderlust, and the tense atmosphere in the aviation world makes air travel much less appealing. I also recognize that traveling less is one of the many ways I can reduce pollution and energy consumption. The like the idea of “living simply, so that others can simply live.” There have been immediate payoffs: for the first time in decades, I am debt-free , and this has been the most enjoyable year I can remember. I have to acknowledge that the weather has had to fair bit to do with that: we’ve had the most sunshine and least rain the last 6 months than any previous year since I arrived here in 1990. I do love the sun! So life is very sweet here. I hope it is where you are, too. The challenge for me in 2003 is to balance the quiet enjoyment of my simple life here, with a caring involvement in the well being of those whose lives are not so richly blessed. I pray that you are richly blessed with health and love throughout the coming year. Your devoted,

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