Saturday, September 14, 2002

Remembering September 11, 2001

This week marks the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. As I pause to reflect on the events that have unfolded since then I am struck, both by the human ability to cope with almost any crisis and the seeming inability to learn in certain areas. On the one hand the tales of heroism by families that lost a loved one and the people who reached out to help are inspirational. On the other hand I wonder what is it about human beings that gives us this capacity to create anger and hate against another human being that is externally different from us and wants us to destroy the other person. On many levels human being over the years have demonstrated the tremendous capability to learn and deal with nature, the physical world, diseases etc. Otherwise we would not be flying in airplanes, reading this blog, or working on the 100th floor of office buildings. But when it comes to the futility of a cycle of hatred and violence we seem unable to draw any lessons.

Last year in the days following the September 11 attacks I sent the email below to some friends.
My friends Maureen, Hal, and I just came back from a very moving gathering in downtown Palo Alto near Stanford University. It was an interfaith gathering of human beings in support of Peace, Justice, and Healing organized by the First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto in an open air plaza in the middle of the downtown area. There were about 400 people. It was organized as a prayer meeting and started off with a Muslim Cleric reciting verses from the Koran, followed by Catholic Priests, Buddhist ministers, Jewish Rabbi, Quakers, Mormon Clerics, representatives from the Bahai faith, Black Baptist ministers, and a number of varied faiths from all around the San Francisco bay area. The message throughout the evening was one of love, peace, tolerance, compassion, forgiveness, and healing. Joan Baez was there and led us all in song in her beautiful voice. It was a small enough gathering that I was able to go up to her and give her a hug and thank her for helping us with the healing process. But I was too emotional and was barely able to say much between the tears. She just gave me another hug and said we all need this healing process. Her niece also sang another song in a beautiful voice that shows much promise.

There were Arab-Americans and Muslim women with their head covered in the gathering. A Lebanese-Palestinian- American spoke and talked about all the terrorism and mayhem he had witnessed growing up and how he loved this country for accepting him . They are all struggling with the pain like everyone else. In fact when a Muslim cleric or speaker spoke or led us in prayer the applause was the loudest. Clearly the message from the people present was that we need to
get through this together and not turn against each other. People held hands, hugged each other, sang together, and wept openly. It was a moving
ceremony. I wept several times as did my friends who were with me all of us of different ethnic heritages.

It has been an emotionally exhausting week for all of us. I have wept a few times through the week. I think I am grieving for many things - at the immediate loss, destruction, and displacement in NY/DC. I am also grieving for the loss of a free and trusting way of life. I am grieving at the fear of the unimaginable limits of evil that human beings can go to. I am grieving at our inability to comprehend both the scale of what happened and why people do what they just did.

Everyday on my way to work I go through a list of ten different things that I am grateful for. A different list for each day. On many days a fact that made the list was the fact that we live in a time of such peace and prosperity. The second was that we live in such a multi-cultural world united in many ways while at the same
time celebrating our diversity. I think I am grieving because I am frightened that this may change.

My hope is that there will be lots of love, patience, and healing around the world over the next several months. On the one hand we have to create a
world where these events don't happen while at the same time we don't lose the above things I am grateful for. We have to preserve this beautiful world
we know because we borrowed it from our children.
(In June 2001, I was in the mountains of Colorado rafting rivers and climbing mountains as part of an outward bound course. Tom Peterson was one of the people with me during this program. Tom wrote the thought provoking article below shortly after September 11, 2001)

I have a two year old child. Two. The age where they say 'I'm two my next birthday" and hold up any number of fingers not understanding age or the
fact that the next birthday they speak of has long since past. She is now laying on my lap, in my arms, head folded forward and eyes closed. She

I lean forward and push the fine blond hair from her temple and rest my lips there long enough to feel the warmth of her soul and I know I am on
the kissing spot and that is what I do. Not once or twice or even three times but more as my eyes peer out the window and thoughts of the world
swirl and I think if I were to die this would certainly be a wonderful way to go. With that I look at her and I wonder what would become of her or
would she perish with me. Would that be better?

I just finished reading an email written to the perpetrators of the horrendous crime that has turned our world and knocked it off the axis we
are so familiar and comfortable with. Things are turning a bit differently now and no one has yet learned to walk on this platform which spins beneath
our feet differently than it once did. There is talk of love and hatred, each side calling one another a coward. Each speaks of God as if he is the
captain of one team and not the other and each side claims him. They don't know much about us, we not much about them. They hate us. We don't know
enough about them to have had thoughts one way or the other nor did we really care but now we hate them- whoever they are.

I look at my daughter and I think that in this country she could grow to be a Muslim. Certainly she was born into and being raised as a Christian but
in this country people end up making decisions as to how they will lead their own lives. So I wonder what benefit is it to perform such acts and
plant a seed deep within her that shall possibly create an enemy with both knowledge and hatred of them when in fact she could choose to follow that
faith some day. But this coin is not unlike any other which has another side.

We are hated. Hated by a people who have had countless bombs dropped from their sky for countless reasons killing innocent people and babies- such as
the one I am holding both in my arms and my heart. Are those parents who lost children and children who lost parents different than I or my child?
Do I understand what it is like to live day by day fearing attacks?

We have now tasted the acid of such an event. We are now starting to live a similar kind of life were we fear such things as getting on a plane for
vacation, attending an event like those which draw large crowds to football and baseball games where we watch multimillionaires play a sport.
I dare say we have a long way to go before we are as steeled to it as they and are able to walk down a street as the gunfire is chatting with such
predictability that newscasters have no problem capturing it for us to see from the comfort of our homes.

Cowards- they to us, we to them. They willing to train for years to meet their ends and give their lives in fighting their fight against a
super-power- cowards? We, willing to openly march in with the might a world power holds to protect our soil and freedom- cowards? I think not in
either case and what difference does it make anyway. Is it just another reason for one to condone a planned offensive or defensive move?

Who is right, who is wrong- both sides know the answer and that is why we are about to go to war. It is always the other side and both sides now
have enough hurt and pain to prove it and to march.

What should we do? I do not know. There is fear, there is doubt, there is questioning. Each one of us will sort through these things and come to our
own opinion and those will be debated as time goes on and in the days to come. But now I must trust in our leaders and support them. As the debates
commence, we must continue to be unified as there is no real answer- right or wrong. There is only action and reaction, circumstance and response,
cause and affect. We debate the lessons of history and disagree, how do we know the results of todays actions upon tomorrow? We can only go
forward and hope as going forward in a straight line offers more predictable consequences than stumbling all about.

One thing is for sure, though, it cannot happen again. The pain, the damage, the suffering, the agony. It is just too devastating. It just
cannot happen again- not just here but anywhere. Not by any group or to any group. So I guess we need to do it again- just one last time: just like Grandpa did and great grandpa and those before him.

As I lay my daughter down I look at the peacefulness there before me and I know that all children are like this where-ever they call home. And I
realize that seeds are being planted in these children both here and afar to hate. Those seeds will germinate, they will sprout and my daughter
will be hated by those she does not know and it is also possible she may well learn to hate those who do not know her.

With this in mind I lean over and place my lips to her kissing spot and hope for the best for all. The peace and tranquility in planting that kiss
and feeling the warmth of her soul through my lips cause me to think if I were to die this would certainly be a wonderful way to go.

Monday, July 15, 2002

'TERENCE, this is stupid stuff:
You eat your victuals fast enough;
There can't be much amiss, 'tis clear,
To see the rate you drink your beer.
But oh, good Lord, the verse you make,
It gives a chap the belly-ache.
The cow, the old cow, she is dead;
It sleeps well, the horned head:
We poor lads, 'tis our turn now
To hear such tunes as killed the cow.
Pretty friendship 'tis to rhyme
Your friends to death before their time
Moping melancholy mad:
Come, pipe a tune to dance to, lad.'

Why, if 'tis dancing you would be,
There's brisker pipes than poetry.
Say, for what were hop-yards meant,
Or why was Burton built on Trent?
Oh many a peer of England brews
Livelier liquor than the Muse,
And malt does more than Milton can
To justify God's ways to man.
Ale, man, ale's the stuff to drink
For fellows whom it hurts to think:
Look into the pewter pot
To see the world as the world's not.
And faith, 'tis pleasant till 'tis past:
The mischief is that 'twill not last.
Oh I have been to Ludlow fair
And left my necktie God knows where,
And carried half way home, or near,
Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:
Then the world seemed none so bad,
And I myself a sterling lad;
And down in lovely muck I've lain,
Happy till I woke again.
Then I saw the morning sky:
Heigho, the tale was all a lie;
The world, it was the old world yet,
I was I, my things were wet,
And nothing now remained to do
But begin the game anew.

Therefore, since the world has still
Much good, but much less good than ill,
And while the sun and moon endure
Luck's a chance, but trouble's sure,
I'd face it as a wise man would,
And train for ill and not for good.
'Tis true, the stuff I bring for sale
Is not so brisk a brew as ale:
Out of a stem that scored the hand
I wrung it in a weary land.
But take it: if the smack is sour,
The better for the embittered hour;
It should do good to heart and head
When your soul is in my soul's stead;
And I will friend you, if I may,
In the dark and cloudy day.

There was a king reigned in the East:
There, when kings will sit to feast,
They get their fill before they think
With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.
He gathered all the springs to birth
From the many-venomed earth;
First a little, thence to more,
He sampled all her killing store;
And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,
Sate the king when healths went round.
They put arsenic in his meat
And stared aghast to watch him eat;
They poured strychnine in his cup
And shook to see him drink it up:
They shook, they stared as white's their shirt:
Them it was their poison hurt.
--I tell the tale that I heard told.
Mithridates, he died old.

A. E. Housman (1859-1936).

Friday, June 28, 2002

I was getting ready for a musical treat this Wednesday when my current favorite band The Counting Crows would open for a former favorite band The Who at my favorite outdoor concert venue The Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View.

But earlier today John Entwistle bassist and founding member of The Who was found dead in his room at the Hard Rock hotel and casino in Las Vegas, victim of a heart attack. He was 57. The Who were to start their summer tour through the US tomorrow with the first concert at the Hard Rock hotel.

Entwistle, was known for his stoically self controlled presence on stage while his hyperkinetic bandmates wreaked havoc around him. Their stage antics were infamous: Townsend's had his frantic windmills and stage jumps, Moon's was a wild animal behind the drum kits, Daltrey spun the microphone and sprinted all over the stage, while the impassive Entwistle surveyed it all. At the end of a set, no instrument was safe. During a concert at Britain's Rikki Tik Club in 1966, Townshend whacked Entwistle in the head with his guitar; the following year, as the band ended a performance Moon detonated an explosive that destroyed his drum set, shocked the audience and detonated Townshend's eardrums.

Entwistle outranked Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones and Cream's Jack Bruce as Guitar Magazine's "Bassist of the Millennium."

So just for tonite let The Who rock on your stereo with Behind Blue Eyes, Babba O' Riley, and I Can See For Miles.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002


If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one
Drying in the colour of the evening sun
Tomorrow’s rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay

Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime’s argument
That nothing comes from violence
And nothing ever could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star. Like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are How fragile we are

---Sting in "all this time" which he recorded on Sept 11, 2001.

As troubling news of violence continues to come in from around the world - violence at a personal level, community level, and at a national level - I sometimes despair if we are incapable of learning from 5000 years of human history that nothing comes from violence and how fragile we really are as human beings. But then I continue to dream on as a hopeless romantic that we will heal as people and come together in one spirit on this lonely planet we live on.

Saturday, June 15, 2002

I first came across BLOGs in an article by Chris Taylor in TIME (Feb 11,2002). Four months later, I was sitting in a train station in Hong Kong, when I came across another article in TIME that mentioned how BLOGS were spreading like wildfire across the web. I knew then that I would be hooked before long.

This then is my BLOG, a vehicle for me to share with friends and interested travelers through this planet the richness of life on our lonely planet as I experience it.

I just returned from a three month trip through India, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia. During this trip I joined a group from The Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania on a trek to Kanchenchunga in Sikkim in the Eastern Himalayas. The trek was part of a leadership program led by Wharton Professor Mike Useem and took us to 17,000 feet in the neighborhood of Kanchenchunga which at 28,168 feet is the third highest peak in the world.
More details of the trek...
Photos from the trek....

During the trip I also finished reading a fascinating book, "Dot.con, The Greatest Story Ever Sold" by John Cassidy, a staff writer at the New Yorker. In a lively and entertaining narrative, Cassidy describes the creation, inflation, and deflation of the Internet bubble. In a well researched account, full of interesting anecdotes, the book takes you through a history of the nationwide epizootic that was fed fuel by entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, investment bankers, the financial press, the fed, and the investing public.