Friday, February 18, 2011

February 12, 2011

Dear Sis~
I was saddened to read of Jack LaLanne's death (although at 96, he had a full and rich life).  It was as if one more small slice of my own past, my personal history, has slipped away, too.  As a youngster in the early 1960's I often stood in our living room watching and emulating Jack's exercise routines flickering across our black and white TV, amazed at his ability to demonstrate an endless range of exercises and stretches, utilizing only a chair and a stick.  I relished his boundless energy and enthusiasm, his zest for life, and I attribute to him my own lifelong interest in physical fitness and working out, as well as my own self-confidence.  Jack was an amazing individual, and I don't use that term lightly; he set a fine example for others.  I remember how he celebrated all his birthdays with incredible stunts. I think it was his 70th birthday when he swam from Alcatraz Island to the mainland, about 2 or 3 miles away.  Handcuffed.  And towing a rowboat!  Jack was a good mentor and a good man.  Godspeed to Mr LaLanne!
I'm sure you've been watching the big drama playing out in Cairo, Egypt (all across the middle east, actually).  Wasn't it moving and inspiring to watch the common people rise up and throw off the shackles of oppression?  It was an essentially bloodless revolution, done peacefully, without resort to arms, stunning in its directness.  It was interesting to watch America's shifting public statements as we struggled to decide which horse to bank.  For 30 years we have loyally supported Hosni Mubarak, a brutal dictator, whose feared secret police tortured and murdered their own citizens with impunity, even as we played lip service to the principles of democracy.  America has a rich and lengthy history of supporting right-wing dictators across the globe.  As long as they do our bidding and tow the line, they are our dictators and we support them.  We publicly express rhetorical support for democracy and democratic movements, but it's mostly in the abstract and has always yielded to the imperatives of realpolitiks.  Most Americans forget (or never knew) that Saaddam Hassein was once our ally; we supported him mightily, as long as he was at war with or nemesis, Iran.  Likewise with Osama bin Laden whom we armed, trained and supported as long as he fought the Soviet army in Afghanistan. Just a few of the brutal dictators we supported to the hilt for decades were Ferdinand Marcos in the Phillipines; Augusto Pinochet in Chili; Suharto in Indonesia; the Shah of Iran; Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua, and countless others.  We love to talk the talk on democracy but we seldom walk the walk.  That hypocrisy is not lost on the rest of the world who see our claims to support "democracy" worldwide for what it is:  a matter of convenience and a lot of hot air.  Anyway, it remains to be seen how things play out in Egypt, whether the "democracy" we now claim to endorse there turns out to bite Amerca in the ass.  Democracy is a funny thing...the people can elect a government whose policies run counter to our own self interests.  As an aside, isn't it interesting that George W Bush ostensibly invaded Iraq in an attempt to bring democracy to the region, and yet the people of Egypt did it themselves, without a brutal war, in a peaceful maner?
Love & Peace,

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