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January 2017

OPINION: Building Bridges

by Sheila Velázquez

About a week after 9/11, I flew from Montana to Boston, a trip that required, as all trips from Bozeman do, a stop at Salt Lake City. The flight from Bozeman was not filled, but the absence of passengers became more apparent in Salt Lake. I had a long time until my next flight and sat in the nearly empty waiting area, reading a book and people-watching. A group of young men sat in the row of seats facing me. There were perhaps seven or eight, well-dressed, maybe students or young businessmen. But the single thing that was painfully noticeable about them was that they were Middle Eastern. I say painfully because of how this would change their lives from that day forward.

Two security officers were engaged in an animated conversation by the trash receptacle, and so I crumpled my burger wrapper and walked over to see what the commotion might be. One said, “But we have to let them on. There are no restrictions.” And there weren’t. No one was being searched, checked or otherwise treated any differently because of the language they spoke or their likely religion. No shoes in baskets or x-ray machines. No confiscated knitting needles. That would come. I walked back and glanced at the young men. They were very quiet, barely whispering in Arabic.

A man was arguing with the woman at the ticket counter. His mother was refusing to board the flight if “those people” would be on it. She was demanding that they not be allowed to fly so that she would be safe. But she was the one who did not board the plane.

Another man approached the group and began sputtering that he wasn’t blaming their people for the attack on the Twin Towers. Did he even understand who their people were? He was sweating and looking very uncomfortable as he groveled before them in an attempt to buddy up to them. It was obvious that he wasn’t so sure that this group wasn’t planning to terrorize their fellow passengers, and he wanted to be on their side if they did. He was pathetic. The young men did not answer him.

As the time of departure drew closer, more people showed up, and after observing their fellow passengers, only a few chose to stay. We boarded on time, maybe twenty of us in addition to the young men scattered about in the seats of the big plane. Anyone who wanted to could put up the armrests and stretch out and take a nap, which I did.

I am not saying that the idea that they might be part of some larger attack did not cross my mind. It did. I had watched the second towers fall in real time just days ago. I was trying to understand how there could be such hate that could lead to such tragedy.

Just a few years earlier I had stood at the top of one of the towers with a group of Muslim men who were visiting the university where I worked. They were Middle Easterners visiting the West to learn about the best we have to offer. Unfortunately, their Muslim brothers and sisters are now too often exposed to the worst. While in the program I became friends with a staffer who invited me to a party she and her husband were planning. When I arrived I realized what it was like to be the outsider. Everyone else was both Black and Muslim.

Fear and prejudice are the real enemies. If we allow them to take over, they will block out the will and the energy needed to build the bridges necessary for us to work together toward the nonpartisan goals we all share. A bridge must be strong and properly designed. It must be fashioned of the strongest materials and continually maintained and shored up when a weakness is detected. It must never be allowed to weaken and fail. And if done properly, it can last forever.



TLC #39: Berkshire Four Freedoms Rally—Full Audio

U.S. Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts delivers his words in support of the Four Freedoms—the frequent thunderous applause nearly drown out the senator; photo, the Greylock Glass.
U.S. Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts delivers his words in support of the Four Freedoms—the frequent thunderous applause nearly drown out the senator; photo, the Greylock Glass.

Estimates by the Berkshires Four Freedoms Coalition, and reported by the Greylock Independent reveal that nearly 2,000 Berkshire residents assembled in downtown Pittsfield, Mass., to demonstrate community strength and spirit and commitment to the ideals encapsulated in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech delivered January 6, 1941.

This episode is supplemental to our release of Top Left Corner, #38 of earlier this week, and contains the full audio of the rally. The Greylock Glass provided live streaming of this historic event, and now makes available the full audio of the rally. For reference, and more information about the event, please visit the show notes for TLC, Episode 38. Enjoy.



TLC #38: The Four Freedoms March

The Four Freedoms march and rally in Pittsfield, Mass. on Saturday, January 7, celebrates the highest aspirations for democracy in modern times, as elucidated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1941.

Slivers of Norman Rockwell's iconic "Four Freedoms" paintings.
Slivers of Norman Rockwell’s iconic “Four Freedoms” paintings.

Today is Friday, January 6th, 2017—Happy New Year to all of you out there in Greylock Nation This is episode #38 of TLC. I’m your host, Jason Velazquez, and I thank you for tuning in. Keep Reading


What Would Rockwell Paint?


by Sheila Velazquez

On January 6, 1941, in a message to Congress, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression–everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way–everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants–everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor–anywhere in the world.”

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