musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Category: Musings (Page 1 of 7)

On Making the Unknown Known

Alone with Friends

J. Stoller

Alone in the company of friends. These are strange times. I’m ashamed of the weariness I feel, worried by the emptiness and the confusion. I find I’m forcing myself to make smalltalk, feeling like a fraud as I do so. Bereft of what was once familiar, I wander around the ornate rooms as conversation swirls around me. But maybe that’s exactly the point and what must necessarily come before progress?

“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing — and keeping the unknown always beyond you.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

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Clinging To What No Longer Serves

Clinging to an old blanket

by J. Stoller

In times of trouble, people cling to the mundane and to the familiar company of family and friends. They gravitate to comfortable surroundings, to deeply-entrenched ideas and attitudes. They hold on tightly to old and tattered possessions to which they are accustomed, even if these objects no longer serve a purpose.

When feeling challenged and under siege, people will embrace what they already believe to be true, speaking in the same language, however tired or inappropriate for the new situation at hand.

Surrounding oneself with the theatrical props of stability is not the same as feeling stable, safe and secure in your heart. What is needed is a paradigm shift.

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What if… What then?

What if, just like MySpace, Twitter suddenly changed their code or shut down completely, and all of those clever things you thought up, all the people who “liked” you and made you an internet sensation for 24 hours, all of that disappeared into the ether. Erased from Earth’s fragile history, you’re left alone in your basement room, with your dusty books and hardened mind, while the real people you shut out of your life have drifted away to find more satisfying conversation and a more reciprocal love. What then?

These are false communications, as transient as a Tibetan sand mandala. But unlike the mandala, whose essense remains in the collective unconscious, your clever thoughts, in the morning light? No one will remember them.

Indeed, we are all fleeting, we are all grains of sand, though we disappear without a trace or our essence remains based upon the decisions we make — whether to truly communicate, or to build an emotional wall.

As you slowly discover that the old proverb is true, you reap what you sow, betray and betrayal, abandon and abandonment, disregard and disregarded — What now?

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Was 2016 The Year Mental Health Came Out Of The Closet?

Mental Health in the News

Overburdened law enforcement, soldiers and PTSD, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, celebrities coming forward and election anxiety

The stigmatization of mental illness and the tendency to push mental health issues under the carpet is far from over, but the conversation has begun. The year 2016 has been chock-full of news stories, discussions and public figures in solidarity or coming out of the closet with their personal struggles. Whether your daily news source is the local newspaper, network television, NPR or Facebook and Twitter, it’s hard not to notice that mental health issues have been popping up with great frequency. Read more on Medium.com >>

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Winter Solstice Musings

Trying to unwind the gnarled thoughts from this fretful year, it seemed so very easy to sink comfortably into all the hatred and venom and take up arms. To become hardened to the perceived threat, rather than try to understand it. Gather comrades tightly around and fortify defenses, rather than reach out to the enemy. But all that did, in retrospect, was to widen the rift and poison the air around us.

It is far less comfortable, far less safe, to detach from and step out of enveloping womb of one’s world view. To gaze harshly upon oneself from the enemy camp and begin to question. Is there any room inside that hardened shell of righteousness for a different perspective?

In the quiet of winter, the cold hush of hibernation, there is the time and the space for contemplation.

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The Art of the Con: Donald Trump, Narcissistic Personality Disorder and the Divided States of America

In the past year, I have probably read more political commentary than I have over the course of my lifetime. It’s not that I wasn’t interested in politics and society before this election, but for a variety of reasons, this election cycle felt far more important and personal, and got me to questioning where exactly I stood on the bloody battlefield.

This article has been several months in the making. I’d start, then stop, then start again. The target kept moving. Every news article about Donald J. Trump, every nutty thing that emerged from his mouth, every media outcry, public reaction and friend’s Facebook post, and I would be rethinking my perspective. In the end, what I thought would be a philosophical view from high above the fray, as an impartial observer, became a hard look around myself, at the convictions and beliefs of friends on both sides of the divide, at self-righteous liberals in my own family and at the world outside my strange bubble. Because, as progressive and enlightened as we may like to think we are, we all live within our own self-created reality and, increasingly, in “reality bubbles” that only serve to reinforce our world view.

As the dust begins to settle, I see blindness and intolerance on both ends of the spectrum. I make no attempt here to arrive at any truths or come to any definitive conclusions. These are only observances. Read on Medium.com.

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Animal Deaths

When I called my friend Victor, I simply said, “I have a bad animal story.” He instantly knew he would have to console me, though at first he laughed. “You’re laughing? How can you laugh at something like this!?” He was thinking, of course, of the time he had helped me clear out a ton of junk from underneath my porch and we had come across a petrified dead squirrel that he initially thought was a piece of wood. I took one glance and knew better, as I ran shrieking from the storage space. The poor squirrel looked as if death had surprised him, as he was frozen into a shape that resembled a miniature Tyrannosaurus Rex.

I told him this story was worse, much worse. I had arrived home from the gym and started to turn the car into my driveway. I immediately spotted a young groundhog scaling a low retaining wall. He stopped and stared at me and I paused, admiring and greeting him. He scampered over the wall and back down into the yard. I then drove further into the driveway and promptly heard a high-pitched squealing. I had felt the impact with something small at about the same time, and my heart sunk. Turning my head to look toward the end of the driveway, I saw another young groundhog struggling to pull himself along to get away from the car, badly injured and unable to run. I watched, horrified, as he made it to the end of the driveway and turned at a front flower bed and toward my front walk.

I’d been seeing the pair of them — brothers, or so I imagined — for a few weeks now. They must have a hole nearby my front door, probably under this large, overgrown bush. I had seen them running down the front walk, scooting underneath the bush, and I had seen telltale signs of half-eaten plants. Once in a while I’d spot them hanging out on the walkway, near my front door. They were young, about the size of large rats, nowhere near the giant fat groundhogs one typically saw in the summer.

And now — now I had just killed one of them. I felt horrible. It was an accident, of course, just an awful accident. But it didn’t matter. Why hadn’t I checked the driveway before I barreled in? But who really does that? I had been busy looking at his twin, and didn’t bother to wonder where the other one was. I hadn’t even remembered that they typically moved around as a pair.

While in the shower, trying to wash away the memory, I recalled the other animal deaths I had witnessed in my life. Just a small handful, but all painful.

There was the time when I lived in St. Petersburg, Florida, in the late 1970s, when I accidentally ran over my own kitten. My biker boyfriend, Artie, had come across him in back of the Harley dealership where he worked. It had been abandoned and, come to think of it now, was probably feral. The little guy was crazy, so because of that (and my violent cat allergy), he lived outside and we fed him.


We were on our way to meet up with some friends and were in my car with the motor running. The kitten kept running up to the car, no matter what we did. We kept trying to shoo it away, toss it into the yard, anything.

When I tried to back out of the driveway, the kitten ran straight for the tires, and I ran him over. Never had I been so distraught or inconsolable. I remember sitting on my couch wailing hysterically, with Artie doing his best to console me.

Even when the animal’s passing was natural and I had nothing whatsoever to do with its demise, I couldn’t fully cope with it. Boo-Boo was my friend Victor’s beloved cat, and Boo-Boo (full name Sai Boo-Boo, a tongue-in-cheek reference to Indian spiritual leader Sai Baba) had bucket loads of personality (kind of a grouchy old man, really) and terrorized at least a few neighbors and clients. When Boo-Boo died, at an advanced age, I wrote a eulogy and attended the funeral at Victor’s family home in Southie, but could not bring myself to look at the body.

Though it wasn’t directly my fault, I took full blame when a backyard squirrel met his demise at the hands of a birdbath bowl that came crashing down off its base after he must have perched on it for a drink. There was no bottom piece to hold it in place, so it had to balance on top. I tried to center it so it would be secure, but clearly it wasn’t. I actually found the poor squirrel trapped underneath it, still alive, and moved the bowl so he could try to crawl away, though he was very badly injured. I’ll never forget the look of fear in his eyes when I approached him and maybe, possibly, the look of gratitude when I freed him, though I felt ashamed for what I felt was complicity in the crime. I was so traumatized by that incident that I actually called the town animal warden to come and dispose of the squirrel, which he was kind enough to do. The benefits of living in a small town.

Then there was the sin of the father. This was possibly the toughest one of all, given my love of birds. I was visiting my parents, and my dad, deeply immersed in the frustration and difficulty of having to care for my bed-ridden mother, had grown annoyed at the birds nesting in an air-conditioner in her room. She of course wasn’t in any danger and probably couldn’t care less about the noise. There was another window that was being used with a stronger unit, so there was no reason he had to suddenly remove this older unit from the window at the height of spring nesting season. But, as I realize now, his insistence upon taking immediate action was a symptom of a more pervasive illness. He was feeling powerless. I understand that. But even more powerless was the baby bird whose nest he disturbed.

I had helped him remove the air-conditioner, so I unfortunately had a front row seat to the carnage. As he started destroying the nest, the image that burned itself into my mind forever was of this new baby bird, fleshy and vulnerable, crying and reaching out for its mother, who I saw hovering in the sky nearby. The mother bird was also powerless, unable to help her offspring.

My dad, not immediately registering the situation, said in disgust, “see, there are even insects in here,” and continued to brush everything from the window sill onto the ground far below.

My fight-or-flight response immediately took flight into the bathroom where, door locked, I proceeded to cry hysterically for a half hour. My father will never truly understand why I reacted in that way. It wasn’t just the single act of killing a baby bird and destroying its nest. Baby birds die all the time, often at the hands of other animals, or due to weather, or to an accident or to any number of natural events. In my mind, this was clearly a metaphor. There was innocence being destroyed in the course of life’s harsh reality, and my own innocence was being brushed aside hastily and with no remorse, along with the nest and its fragile new life, onto the cold ground. In that moment, I felt as vulnerable as that baby bird.

The telltale sign of critters in our midst.

The telltale sign of critters in our midst.

All of these incidents flashed through my mind like a news reel as I walked to the front porch to retrieve the mail. I glanced out the window. About two-thirds of the way down the front walk laid the young groundhog. In trying to make it back to his hole under the bush, he could only make it that far. Shit. Profoundly sad, I went to get a shovel and a bucket. I would bury the poor guy underneath my giant blue spruce, the same place I laid to rest a dead bird I found years ago.

I stepped out the front door at the same exact time that his brother appeared at the front of the walk. As I started to walk towards the dead animal, his alive and no doubt frightened brother started running towards me. My mind raced. Did he see his brother lying dead on the ground? He surely must have, as he ran right past him. Was he going to attack me for killing his brethren? I am not privy to the inner lives of groundhogs, to know whether they even have a sense of unjust death or of revenge. But I wasn’t about to stay and find out. I retreated back onto the enclosed porch, as he ran right near me to scurry quickly behind the bush.

Once again, I called Victor. Would the groundhog come back to retrieve the body of his brother? Do they do that? Should I wait for a while? I still felt horrible. He assured me again that it wasn’t my fault, that it was an accident and how could I know that he was underneath my car? We spoke of animal customs, animal awareness, elephant graveyards and other such topics. He told me to go ahead and bury him and the sooner the better, while I still had light.

The burial took place under the blue spruce. The groundhog had looked so peaceful in death, just lying there on my front walk as if asleep. This time I looked carefully. As I took in his peaceful countenance, I became more peaceful myself. Far less distraught and focused on my task, it was easy to push him into the bucket and easier still to dig a small hole in the large open space underneath the 60-foot pine tree. I placed pinecones on top, with a stone to mark the grave.


I think now of the surviving sibling, alone in the world with no brother to frolic and play with. I wonder if I will see him again, and I know that if I do, I will be forever sad. He is alone now in the world, an only child, like me. My heart goes out to him.

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My Bowie Memories

A Small Corner Of My World, circa 1987.

A Small Corner Of My World, circa 1987.

I spent the evening going through my old scrapbooks. It felt like the right thing to do. I needed to remind myself. I wanted to remember how it was, how it felt, all those years ago.

It had been nearly a week since I dragged myself out of bed after not having slept, with a hollow pain deep in my gut that I had no explanation for. As it was already late morning, I stumbled onto the computer to check email and twitter, to acquaint myself with the day, and I saw the news that David Bowie had died. That he had, in fact, been battling cancer for 18 months. It didn’t seem real.

It has been a long time since I was a superfan. A very long time. There was disbelief and shock, and it was an odd feeling I had, a vague sense that something huge had been lost, but it felt very far away at first. It was perhaps a blessing that I had so much work to do, that I could only glance at the outpouring of grief and remembrances. People I hadn’t heard from in years posted things to my Facebook page.

As the days went by, memories started flooding in and I began to remember. I began to feel. A lot.

None of the fans really understood why I stopped publishing my little Bowie newsletter and sold my collection, after being so devoted for 10 years. In my heyday, I followed tours, attended many, many shows, met fans and former associates and bought everything in my general vicinity having to do with him. And then I just stopped. For the record, it all got to be too much. Not the artist, nor his wonderful music, but everything else that madly swirled around him. All that other “stuff” got in the way of the art and kept me from enjoying it all purely, as I once had. But I never stopped being a fan.

London Press Conference, 1990

London Press Conference, 1990

From the moment I was introduced to Bowie’s music by a boy I met at a technical school we were both attending, I was entranced. It was just before Let’s Dance came out, and I gravitated toward the Low/Heroes/Lodger trilogy — especially Low. There was something about that sense of isolation, the alienation, the continuous searching, the yearning, the endless endeavors and failings, not feeling quite right in one’s own skin, that I immediately identified with. I’ve always felt different from the mainstream, apart from others, and Bowie bestowed his blessing on all of us who were trying to forge our own way alone, through uncharted lands. He was a shining beacon, a knowledgeable guide, a mystical sherpa. As he proclaimed in “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide,” “And you’re not alone, let’s turn on and be not alone, give me your hands, ’cause you’re wonderful, oh give me your hands!”

The first concerts I saw were his two shows in Hartford, Connecticut, during the Serious Moonlight Tour in 1983. His Let’s Dance album wasn’t a particular favorite, but that just happened to be my timing. Other albums that hold a special place in my heart, then and forever, are the Space Oddity album (Man of Words, Man of Music), The Man Who Sold The World and Hunky Dory. Plus the very early song, “Conversation Piece.” So many of those songs, I felt, he was singing just to me. He understood. He was a kindred spirit.

The Bowie Room, back in the day.

The Bowie Room, back in the day.

In an almost continuous wave of serendipity, I began meeting fellow fans, collectors, minor legends and all sorts of interesting characters. It was a magical Felliniesque odyssey. Just ahead of his Glass Spider album and tour, I started a Bowie newsletter with legendary Bowie fan Rose Winters (who had collaborated with the equally legendary David Jeffrey Fletcher on “David Robert Jones Bowie: the discography of a generalist, 1962-1979”). Our humble little photocopied newsletter then morphed into Sound & Vision, which for a short while was printed on colored paper to thwart extensive copying among non-subscribers but which never worked. Ah, those quaint pre-Internet days. And the concerts — oh god, the concerts! From arenas across the U.S. starting in 1983 to massive festival crowds in 1987, mostly outdoors, in Rotterdam, Belgium, Germany, Italy, England, Sweden, Austria, France, Spain. Exciting exclusive press conferences on both sides of the pond. A scrappy Tin Machine show at a dodgy club called The World on the Lower East Side and a later one on their next tour at the intimate and wonderful Toad’s Place in New Haven. An improbable “Sound & Vision Fan Convention” in L.A., loosely based around a Tin Machine live taping at LAX for an “In Concert” TV broadcast. Nutty adventures with friends in a kaleidoscope of cities. Corresponding with and trading with fans all over the world. The memories (and half dozen scrapbooks) I’ve saved are just as much of the interesting people I’ve met as they are of the man’s music, all part of the same glorious experience.

Newsletters_2000

It’s a few weeks after his passing now, with so many articles and tributes talking about the music, the art, the movies, the fashion, the sense of oneself as a unique individual, fearlessly sharing your gifts with the world. That last one is perhaps the most valuable for me personally, as I wrestle with an endless parade of mid-life crises that I’ve been struggling with since age 15. So yes, this is mostly about me, just as writing about Bowie, for anyone, turns out to be just as much about the observer as it is the observed. The message and the messenger and all that. The message, of course, is to celebrate your uniqueness, however odd you may be to yourself and others, and to value that uniqueness in others, without casting judgement. And that’s one hell of a legacy.

From The Archives

‘Early On’ (Rhino Records) Liner Notes

Early On liner notes (Rhino Records)

Early On liner notes (Rhino Records)

liner notes #1

liner notes #1

liner notes #2

liner notes #2


liner notes #3

liner notes #3

liner notes 4

liner notes 4

liner notes #5

liner notes #5


Sound & Vision Newsletter Excerpts

Mick Rock Interview, Issue #14 Oct/Nov 1988

Mick Rock Interview, Issue #14 Oct/Nov 1988

Mick Rock int. #2

Mick Rock int. #2

Mick Rock int. #3

Mick Rock int. #3


Jeff Rougvie Interview (Rykodisc), Issue #20 Summer 1989

Jeff Rougvie Interview (Rykodisc), Issue #20 Summer 1989

Jeff Rougvie int. #2

Jeff Rougvie int. #2

Jeff Rougvie int. #3

Jeff Rougvie int. #3


Jeff Rougvie int. #4

Jeff Rougvie int. #4

Sound + Vision Review, Issue #20 Summer 1989

Sound + Vision Review, Issue #20 Summer 1989

Sound + Vision Review #2

Sound + Vision Review #2


1990 London Press Conference - Issue #23 Jan/Feb 1990

1990 London Press Conference - Issue #23 Jan/Feb 1990

London Press Conf - 2

London Press Conf - 2

London Press Conf - 3

London Press Conf - 3


London Press Conf - 4

London Press Conf - 4

London Press Conf - 5

London Press Conf - 5


A Sampling of the 1987 European Road Trip




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Transcending the Sad Circus: Caring for Someone With Bipolar Disorder

My grade school drawing of the two-faced clown.

My grade school drawing of the two-faced clown.

All my life I’ve asked myself why. What was the reason, the purpose, the lessons I was meant to learn, being born into the family I found myself in? On the inside of my mother’s wedding ring, which she still has but no longer wears due to her frail condition, is the inscription “we three against the world.” For a long time, I fought against that worldview, as it seemed to forever place us — and me — in a never-ending adversarial position with all of humanity. It put me at odds with life. As I get older, I see how true this has been from the very beginning and I realize that in this epic battle, the one weapon that has helped us survive is love. That defiant proclamation now stands as a tribute to the strength of our commitment to each other. And that, I now realize, is its purpose. Read my essay on the Depression Army blog >>

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Contemplations on Slaughter and Solidarity

Imam teaches the Quran in Crimea, (1850s, lithograph by Carlo Bossoli) - from Islam Wikipedia page

Imam teaches the Quran in Crimea, (1850s, lithograph by Carlo Bossoli) - from Islam Wikipedia page

It has taken me three days to begin to process the Paris attacks. As the story unfolded over the weekend, at some point it occurred to me that Le Bataclan, where so many people were killed and wounded, was not unlike many rock clubs I’ve gone to around the Northeastern U.S. It wasn’t a huge stadium filled with tens of thousands; it wasn’t even an arena concert. It was a mid-sized club, 1500 capacity, with a random rock band playing. Though it wasn’t completely random for me. While I’ve never seen Eagles of Death Metal, as a California-based band, several friends of mine in Los Angeles bands knew them personally and had played with them. And their merchandise person, Nick Alexander, who was sadly one of the victims in the attack, had worked with many other bands I know. So this wasn’t just another terrorist attack in a Middle Eastern marketplace, a government office, an overseas embassy or a mosque (as horrible as all those are) — this was personal.

I understand that ISIL/ISIS, unlike al-Qaeda, wanted to attack civilian targets. They wanted to attack cultural institutions, the Western world’s way of life. But why this concert? That may seem like a ridiculous question to ask amidst all the bloodshed, but has anyone else wondered this? Surely there were many other shows going on in Paris on a lively Friday night. Why that one? Was it the band name? Did the attackers go through a weekly arts paper and, seeing Eagles of Death Metal listed, assumed that the band and their fans were a pack of wild, aggressive, violent and war-crazed heavy metal headbangers? Looks can be deceiving. And band names can be very deceiving. We as a species are very quick to form opinions based on first impressions and initial appearances, without digging deeper to get at the truth. Upon being threatened or attacked, we’re fast to seek revenge without going beneath the surface and examining the ramifications, as one would in an intelligently played chess game.

Eagles of Death Metal — not a bunch of radical metalheads, but a fun-loving group of blues rock musicians. Any music fan familiar with 1970s easy-listening rock bands would understand the irony and humor in their name. Their fans? Just a guess, but probably a more liberally-minded crowd likely including those who are opposed to overseas U.S. military aggression. In other words, at least some of those people who were indiscriminately gunned down by ISIL that night might have been somewhat sympathetic to their primary cause (get foreign troops out of Syria) if not their ideology and methods.

And now, in the aftermath? Those who believe that since all terrorists seem to be Muslims, all Muslims must be terrorists (like my next door neighbor) have one more example to bolster their argument. Those who judge by appearance only, without keeping their eyes, ears and minds fully open, will turn their anger and hatred toward everyone of Islamic faith. At current count, that’s 1.6 billion people. And according to a recent survey, Islam will overtake Christianity as the world’s largest religion by 2070. Demonizing what will soon be the majority of the world’s population because of the actions of a minority group (by latest count approximately 30-50,000; that’s still an infinitesimal minority of the world’s Muslim population) is not a wise move. It will only widen the rift already between us, creating even more hostility and violence and bringing otherwise peaceful people into the extremist fold.

Upon entering the Bataclan with their Kalashnikovs, these attackers apparently yelled that this was revenge for the French troops being in Syria. What do they think will happen, now that they staged an orchestrated attack in the streets of Paris? Do they imagine that the French will oblige their request, remove their soldiers and leave them alone? Of course they won’t. They’ll go in there 100 times stronger to seek revenge. Not a very smart chess move, ISIS. [As I was writing this, French President Francois Hollande spoke at a special session of both houses of parliament and declared that France was at war.]

On Sunday, I was perusing Twitter and watching the morning news programs. There were discussions about the previous night’s democratic debates. Bernie Sanders was ridiculed for answering the question of global terrorism with the need to address climate change and economic disparity. The fact is, the spread of terrorism is strongly influenced by those two issues. Granted, there is not very much one can do about radical Islamists who want to impose Sharia Law and establish a caliphate. They want to take their part of the world back a thousand years, and this will obviously never square with modern society. However, there is absolutely something we can do to cut off their seemingly endless supply of willing soldiers and to stop creating such fertile ground for the confusion, fear and chaos that ISIL thrives on.

On the subject of economic disparity, it is very easy to sway public opinion when civilians have no food or clean drinking water and cannot provide for their families. Without basic human needs, people will do what they have to in order to survive. And those who are destitute and marginalized, or those who are educated but see no path for advancement, believe that they have nothing left to lose. This makes them the perfect ISIS recruits. If someone comes along and says, “this is the only way and we will take care of you and your family,” what choice does one in such circumstances have but to believe them? So long as there is no middle class, there is no middle way. Rich or poor, have or have not. Power or powerlessness.

As for the role of climate change in all of this, it has been predicted by scientists that future earth changes will bring about mass migrations, which could lead to major global instability. As desperate people search for food, water and fertile farmland, these displaced people, separated from their homeland, will create unsettled regions where opportunistic groups might easily obtain a foothold. These mass migrations inspired by the will to survive will make a mockery of our petty border disputes and cultural sensitivities. And it’s exactly in this type of wretched environment where radical groups like ISIS thrive. That’s right, this isn’t some science fiction movie plot — it’s happening now.

In addition to dealing with these colossal global issues, we must go back to the old concept of winning hearts and minds. But this time, the U.S. must be sincere — and not hypocritical. You can’t drop packages of food on one day and then bombs via drones on a wedding party the next.

After reading about the debate, I switched on Face The Nation, just in time to hear the enlightened thoughts of Farah Pandith, former Special Representative to Muslim Communities for the United States Department of State. Her comments were rays of truth amidst all the calls to arms and other emotionally-driven reactions. Her main point was the need for credible voices, possibly even former extremists, to speak out against the senseless violence. The need to scale up messages on social media, to combat with intelligent dialogue the campaign of hate being waged by ISIS and their sympathizers. This has to be done not by American and European voices, but by Arabic Muslim ones.

I have often wondered why more of the peaceful Islamic community (by far the majority) doesn’t speak out when tragic events like the Paris attacks occur. They’re out there, but their voices aren’t being heard. “Where are they?” I ask myself. But who can blame them? In addition to fear of reprisal from extremists, they are marginalized or even persecuted by their American and European neighbors who should instead be supporting and encouraging them to come forward. Anyone who calls a peaceful, innocent Muslim “terrorist” is driving one more individual toward a terrorist training camp. An uninformed racist is in fact ISIL’s most effective recruiting officer.

No, there is nothing we can do about extremists who hate the modern world and our way of life. But we can suck the oxygen out of their cause by helping strengthen the moderate Islamic voice in contemporary society and by no longer persecuting innocent Muslims overseas and in our local communities. We must welcome those families and individuals fleeing war-torn countries in search of peace with open arms.

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