The video I am going to share with you is one that speaks of the unanswerable questions of life and death. One pilot lived; one pilot died. I agree with this video about 99%. Steve Scheibner’s life was changed forever…his goals in life were intensified because he should have been in a certain place at a certain time and was not. Another pilot, Tom McGuinness, was brutally murdered because he was fulfilling his duty as the pilot for the day.
One cannot understand why these unanswerable things happen. There are no answers to the ones who were spared on 9-11 and those who were in the midst of it all and died. Certainly there were those who called in sick to work; missed a bus or train; had another event that kept them away. There were also those who went to work and did exactly what they were supposed to be doing on that terrible day…9-11.
The 1% that I do not agree with is that God…in anyway…thought it should be the last day of another’s life. God only received the pilots/crews/(listed below) and passengers into His arms.
The terrorist were the ones who decided to kill those scheduled on American Flight#11, as well as thousands of others who died in the Towers. They and they alone were the cause of this tragedy.
So often, we as Christians, say “God took them because He wanted (him/her) to be with Him”. I have even heard people say, “God needed another angel in heaven.” That is just not God. He is all loving and caring. He does not bring evil upon those who are the target of someone’s distorted thoughts and evil plans. He simply receives them unto Himself.
Having said this, I do not believe that the pilot on this video meant any harmful thoughts about God’s will on Tom McGuinness, the American Airlines #11 pilot…for he honors him throughout the video. One would ask, “What about Tom’s life? Did he not have goals and desires?” Of course he did. He is, for certain, greatly missed by those who loved him.
Nevertheless, the video is inspirational even if it does not answer the unanswerable. Uncontrollable events simply carry us along with them. Thank you, Steve, for sharing your story with us.
We want to know that what we are told by our elected government officials is the truth and nothing but the truth. However, the fact is that any transparency that we require from our government or any other government on earth is probably never going to happen. Those in power are more concerned about their reputations or their political careers than the welfare or opinion of the people they represent. In democratic societies, those who run for office know what the people want….and transparency is a promise that most will make but not keep. If this is what we expect, we are probably being naive or simply hopeful. I believe we can just forget that promised transparency will ever happen.
If we have a catastrophe of any kind, whether it is the result of something beyond our control (as natural disasters of floods, landslides, earth-quake etc.), and our man-made equipment or construction explodes or melts-down, we can be certain that we will not hear the truth…perhaps not even close to the truth…for public opinion is a powerful thing that most leaders do not want to confront.
Take as an example, the melt-down of the nuclear reactors in Japan after the great earthquake and tsunami hit that country, killing approximately 16,000 people; destroying 130,000 homes at a cost of 210 billion dollars. The fall-out from this disaster polluted the waters moving out from Japan toward the U.S.A and everyplace in between. The air-pollution also spread out over the globe. Food was contaminated. The people were not told soon enough about the terrible dangers.
Why was there not transparency from the Japanese government about the risks to those who survived and the continued leakage of radio-active elements from holding tanks? The culture of “saving face” may have had a great deal to do with it.
Below is a video explaining this serious problem, which continues until today. The Japanese are not the only ones with a transparency problem. We can be certain that many other things that have effected us and will effect us in the future is hidden away by those who would not give us the truth…until it is too late. Pessimistic? Yes…one would say so. Who then can we trust to act…or speak on our behalf…and the people world-wide? My mother did a wonderful needle point that she hung on her wall. It may sum up that question: ” LIFE IS FRAGILE, HANDLE WITH PRAYER”…as it may be our only option.
War is hell…anyway one looks at it. For every soldier that has fought, there has been the thought in the back of the mind…”Will I ever get out of this situation? Will I die here…and will my life have counted for something?” They listen to their commanders; do their duty; feel fear and sadness…and hope and pray for the best.
Yes in all the wars, some have turned their backs on country and comrades.. running away from a situation…with only their tortured thoughts to live with for the rest of their lives. Others can be proud that they faced each obstacle whenever and from wherever it came. They marched into the unknown to rescue their own. They faced the enemy not knowing if it would be their last day. Many gave their all and we must not forget them.
As the 4th of July is approaching, we think of liberty and what it means.
Every now and then I find an old movie that is worth watching. This was the case when I turned to Born on the 4th of July starring a young Tom Cruise. It is a violent movie with nudity and the worst of language, but a gripping reality of the Vietnam War and all that the young men went through, especially after they came home. Cruise stretches his acting ability to the limit in this dramatization of a patriotic young man who loses it all in the horrors of battle. It is a realistic look at what the families go through in coping with the aftermath of the veteran’s home-coming.
A line in the film that stood out to me was when this young Marine cried to his father about his condition, asking ” Who will love me?”
Not unlike the young men coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, he felt he was half a man because he was now paralyzed from the waist down with no hope of walking or having a family. War is raw…crude…and real.
It is hopeful that our military, who stayed the course and did their duty, will have the proper home-coming. Vividly portrayed, the Vietnam vet continued to deteriorate emotionally with flash backs. To add to the insults, the crowds spit on them and jeered at them, even during the 4th of July parades. Politics had changed in the U.S. about the war even while the men were away fighting.
Many of these men signed up to fight communism before it took over the world. They bled for what they thought was the enemy to our country’s future. Torn apart, physically and emotionally, there seemed to be no future. The Vietnam vet often turned to drugs and alcohol for relief. Broken in spirit, the question remains, “Who is going to love me?”
For anyone facing a devastating situation, there is only One who gives that unconditional love.
” For God so loved the World that He gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
This film reminds me that if I see an older man with long hair, somewhat shabby … in a wheelchair…or walking the streets with the homeless, it may be a Marine who once served proudly. They came back to an embittered country and never got over it. Other Vietnam vets returned to live productive lives, but never received the thanks due to them until more recently.
Living with a tortured mind is a difficult thing. One evening, when my children were young, my front door flew open and a man yelled in the door, ” Is Charlie here?!” He slammed the door and disappeared into the night. He did not seem to see that we were sitting there. I am sure that this man, who was living out a previous war… thousands of miles away at another time. (“Charlie” originates from the abbreviation VC for “Vietcong.” In the NATO phonetic alphabet, used in radio transmissions, the words for V and C are “Victor” and “Charlie”. Victor Charlie for the Vietcong was soon shortened to Charlie.)
Our sons and daughters have given much in all the wars that America has fought. Who will love them and care for them in their time of healing and need for excellent care? It is a simple question that needs answering. Another question is “Who in military command and the U.S. government will be honest and as well as loving and comforting to the families of those who were flown home for their funerals?” Often the family simply wants to know how their son or daughter died and was everything done possible to save them? It is the least that can be given to them in their grief.
When you were born, you had a mother. She may have been a good mother who gave you the attention and love that you needed. For some, unfortunately, mothers do not always fit that description. A child has to fend for his/herself and try to make some sense of life.
For those who had mothers who said too many times:
- Be home on time
- Call me to let me know exactly where you are and who you are with
- Eat your vegetables
- Wash behind your ears and brush your teeth
- Calm down
- and much more
I am sure some of you paid no attention to this advice, but went your own way…or paid part-time attention to these words of wisdom. However, as we grow older, we realize that mother often was right about many things, whether we believed it or not at the time. She may have saved us from some problems…accidents…and more.
Recently, I saw a video which proves without a doubt that “Mama knows Best”. Even an animal knows when her little one is in danger….and will go to great lengths to save it from the dangers of the world… especially those made by man.
Thank you to Ricky Forbes who photographed this in the Kootenay National Park in British Columbia
The walls of my home have enlarged photographs of the birds native to my area in Florida. There is the Osprey, the Cranes, the Hawks, and most recently a Florida Bald Eagle shown here sitting quietly in my neighbor’s pine tree.
When I was fortunate enough to be teaching English in Mongolia, I heard of the Golden Eagles that were used for hunting. I did not see any in action on either of my trips, but a friend of mine sent an article about an amazing 13-year-old girl who is now joining the young boys and men who hunt with eagles in Mongolia. I found this fascinating as this young girl, who now has a laptop and knows how to email, also knows how to scale the mountains through the snow and hunt with her eagle.
William Kremer of BBC Magazine wrote this about her:
“Most children, Asher Svidensky says, are a little intimidated by golden eagles. Kazakh boys in western Mongolia start learning how to use the huge birds to hunt for foxes and hares at the age of 13, when the eagles sit heavily on their undeveloped arms. Svidensky, a photographer and travel writer, shot five boys learning the skill as well as the girl, Ashol-Pan. “To see her with the eagle was amazing,” he recalls. “She was a lot more comfortable with it, a lot more powerful with it and a lot more at ease with it.”
The Kazakhs of the Altai mountain range in western Mongolia are the only people who hunt with golden eagles, and today there are around 400 practicing falconers. Ashol-Pan, the daughter of a particularly celebrated hunter, may well be the country’s only apprentice huntress…”
Mongolia has a yearly Eagle Festival when the hunters bring their eagles and show what they can do. I am certain that this young lady will be a part of the all male group very soon. Here are a few of the other pictures photographed by Asher Sydensky.
Enjoy the video below on the history of the Eagle Hunters of Mongolia
Recently I heard a comparison of two men, both with the name of Jesus. On this Good Friday when we consider the crucifixion and all that it means, we may want to look at the position that Pilate found himself in as he addressed the angry crowd.
Pilate asked a question of the crowd. “Whom do you want me to release…Jesus Barabbas or Jesus, the one called the Messiah?” He wanted them to make the choice. (Matthew 27)
We know that the demands of the crowd grew stronger to release the man Jesus Barabbas. Pilate’s wife had a terrifying dream concerning Jesus, the Messiah…and warned her husband. The politically correct thing to do at the moment was for Pilate to distance himself from the situation and as he washed his hands…he told them that he was” innocent of this man’s blood”. Backing away from being a leader was the position Pilate took. The rioting world often brings leaders to their weakest point. Fear had a strangle-hold.
Yet the crowd persisted and Barabbas was released. Jesus, the Messiah, was thrown to the crowd to be humiliated, tortured and put to death on a cross…the worst of all deaths during this time. He hung there with two thieves beside Him. What had He done? He had preached the love of God; healed the sick; and drove out those who would dishonor God’s house of worship. He had stepped on the toes of the those in charge. Everyone had to make their choice. The disciples ran and hid. Earlier Peter wept that he had not had courage…and had denied his Lord.
Pilate did not want to choose. When one is in a “hot spot”, it is easier to try to fade away behind those who are vocal. The crowd knew what they wanted. It is also easier to shout with other voices rather than to allow our own voice be heard alone.
The choice had been made. The one Jesus (Barabbas) represented the sins of the world…a man convicted and jailed for his wrong doing. Jesus, the Messiah, was feared by the governing body of His era and the religious, who did not understand His message of redemption also feared him.
We, too, have a choice…to join the ways of the crowd and those of the world who do not understand what Jesus was doing when He died on the cross. The other choice is to identify ourselves and our souls with Jesus, the Messiah. Could it be a costly decision? Yes, as it was for the disciples who all died a martyrs’ death. Choosing the Cross has never been an easy path. It wasn’t for the Savior and it is not today.
Even after His death, his followers had to make decisions. Mary Magdalene could have been fearful to go to his tomb, but she went. God honored her decision by allowing her to see the angels at the empty grave. She then became the first witness who went back and told the others that He was no longer there.
In parts of the world, Good Friday is already here. Tomorrow will be our Good Friday in the USA. The only “good” thing about Good Friday is that God had a plan for redemption. Jesus, the Messiah, would not stay buried in the tomb. His suffering was in our place.
Today, we drape the crosses in black…but Easter morning is coming. Not Jesus Barabbas, but Jesus, the Messiah is the RESURRECTED Jesus .
Which Jesus do you choose?
If we asked ten people what is meant by the word, “Hope”, we would probably get ten answers. It seems illusive….something that we can’t get a handle on…but we still hope. Norman Fried writes about hope and concludes, ” Through hope we discover faith and the pursuit of redemption. Hope sets us on a path toward attaining our goals; it helps us determine strategies for living and it transforms our will into action. And when all hope seems lost, faith asks us to look inward and to think differently. Faith teaches us to look for new ways to live in a life filled with pain. It guides us to develop new pursuits; to achieve new victories. And through our pursuits, we encounter God’s ways and we are challenged to unite with Him; only to find ourselves cleaving to both. In the end, we learn that religion is the confluence of two parallel forces; man’s wish to create a livable world, replete with the hope of grace and dignity, and man’s need to honor and accept what is unlivable through sacrifice, faith and love.” Some words that he uses stand out to me.
- “…pursuit of redemption” In the long run, we all want to be redeemed. We look for an eternity of bliss with an eternally loving God. Redemption, however, is the moment we put our trust in the Savior. Redemption does not just start in the future, but is a daily existence. God sent His only Son to redeem the world.
- “…determine strategies for living” Hope is all important to the very way we live. None of us want to come to the end and be filled with regrets.
- “…challenged to unite with Him” Many things are important to us: family career, dreams and goals. Perhaps the most important thing that we can hope for is to feel His presence with us moment by moment. In this season of Lent, we ask God for that presence and to be united with Him.
- “what is unlivable through sacrifice, faith and love.” We look at the tragedies of the world, past and present, and wonder how people did live through the unlivable. Truly it was the ability to hope even through harsh struggles.
Job spent hours listening to his friends who brought no comfort. I wonder at this patience! (Through most of the Book of Job) Yet, this man of faith continued to believe in the one strength he had and the hope that he knew to be God’s gift to him during a terrible time of his life Even in more modern times, history tells stories of hope under the worst conditions. One such battle of WWII would appear that there was no hope. “The Battle of Stalingrad was the largest battle on the Eastern Front and was marked by brutality and disregard for military and civilian casualties. It was among the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare, with the higher estimates of combined casualties amounting to nearly two million. The heavy losses inflicted on the German army made it a turning point in the war. After the Battle of Stalingrad, German forces never recovered their earlier strength, and attained no further strategic victories in the East.” The film, Enemy at the Gates, has some dialog between Nikita Khrushchevand Danilov, the soldier who believed that if they published fliers for the Russian people to read about heros of the motherland, it would bring hope. In particular, he wrote of the Russian marksman, Vassili Zaitsev, who became the center of the writings. Danilov told Khrushchev the following: “Here, the men’s only choice is between German bullets and ours. But there’s another way. The way of courage. The way of love of the Motherland. We must publish the army newspaper again. We must tell magnificent stories, stories that extol sacrifice, bravery. We must make them believe in the victory. We must give them hope, pride, a desire to fight.” Without hope, men have little for which to live. Regardless of the country from which one comes, the politics of the time, or the belief system that they hold, the human race must have hope. It is not enough to use the word, but to actually believe in a hope that is greater than our understanding. The video below is in honor of all who had hope where there appeared to be no hope. Omer Meir Wellber and Russian National Orchestra. Pietro Mascagni – Intermezzo from “Cavalleria Rusticana”. ( A response from my friend, Mark. Thanks. Romans 12:12 from the Holy Scriptures: “Rejoice in HOPE, be patient in AFFLICTION and faithful in PRAYER.”)