Commentary Humanity

Room With A Disturbing View

The office where I spend my days looks out across a restaurant parking lot to a major intersection in the Maryland suburbs of Washington D.C. The restaurant draws people who work in offices like mine, mostly well dressed and prosperous appearing. There are groups of men, groups of women, couples, arranged meetings, and a few singles. I am on the ground floor, so I have a good view of this activity. I also have a good view of the activity just beyond it where Nicholson Lane crosses Rockville Pike. All day long the cars and trucks travel there: slowing, waiting, signaling, turning, sometimes honking. There are usually lines of cars just sitting and waiting their turns. This is why the intersection draws homeless people seeking assistance in the form of cash. Quite often there are several of them, and quite often they are there for most of the day. I have watched them in the cold of winter, the heat of summer, and everything in between.  …

People Stories

Saint Peter’s Room

He had served in the U.S. Navy in World War Two. His ship had been in battle, with many killed and injured. He was among the injured. He wasn’t killed, but they thought he would be dead soon. They must care for the ones who had a chance. Unconscious, they rolled him into a room that was out of the way. The men of the ship had a name for this room.  It was “Saint Peter’s Room.” My friend told afterward that he kidded the medics for putting him in Saint Peter’s Room when he didn’t need to be there. He recovered from his wounds and lived a long life afterward. …

Advice People

Advice For A Young Man

I was asked for advice by a young man. He did not specify what kind. He may have had in mind his career, or his health, or relationships, or politics, or religion, or any other subject. Not knowing, I took it as open ended and that he was interested in any lessons learned or words of wisdom I might wish to have heard and heeded when I was his age. 

People Stories

Those Were the Days

The scene is still there in memory from 1959. I can play it, pause it, rewind it, replay it. Everything except erase it.

The store keeper's teenage daughter was at their home next door. The country store was downstairs and the family lived upstairs above it. She was out in the back yard beside a dirt pile the size of a small truck. She with a heavy digging maddock and swinging furiously, desperately at this pile. A rather pretty girl who had "gotten herself" pregnant with a high school boy. Neither of them had wanted this, nor had his parents or hers, nor had their churches, or this small farming community. Nor had I, their young college student part-time pastor.

Commentary People Stories

Pick On Someone Your Own Size

People have body language and so do cars. When you ride a bicycle, as I do, you notice the body language of cars. I noticed one yesterday. I was holding up his progress, and I could tell he was restless back behind me. As soon as it was clear up ahead, his engine roared and tires screeched and he was off to beat me up the road and show me who was boss. Although he had 200 or more horsepower and I am not as strong as even one horse. But this guy acts like it's something great that he can outrun a bicycle.

Nature People

When Bears Fight

When bears fight, they usually keep on until there is a winner and a loser. If you are a human being watching, it is sometimes hard to tell who is ahead. Bear fighting is similar to wrestling, and most of us don't understand the point system. The bears do. The loser knows he is loosing, and the winner knows he is winning. And when the winner wins, he declares it in a very strange way. He turns his back to the loser bear and calmly walks away from the field of battle. To us, this can look like he was the defeated bear and is admitting it by retreating. Actually it is a show of strength and quiet confidence.

Commentary Photo Essay Technology

Human Achievement

In the midst of all the current reminders of human failure, it may help us to experience an example of human achievement. The following is a dramatic example. Construction of this bridge began in 2005 and it was opened for traffice on October 19, 2010. It spans the Black Canyon south of Hoover Dam and connects Arizona and Nevada nearly 900 feet above the Colorado River. The author of this photo essay is listed in the credits, but I was unable to locate any further information about him. 




At the Crosswalk

Instead of going out for lunch, I often go out walking. As I did today. Down the trail where it crosses Tuckerman, there’s a crosswalk. A sign informs motorists: “State Law. Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalk.” There is no traffic light or regular stop sign here, and cars whiz by in full stride. Today I stood there helpless and watching, head jerking left to right and right to left, watching for an opening, despite the Maryland state law warning standing right beside me.

Commentary Stories

How Many Socks?

We are fortunate to have a Salvation Army donation center just a few miles away. It is a remarkable operation. They take any donations of clothing or household items that might be of use to someone else. There are always volunteers waiting for you to drive in to unload. They are friendly and helpful. The place is usually busy, but it runs so smoothly that you are in and out in no time. It would be interesting to see the place where all this stuff is taken and processed. If you have things you don't want any more, this certainly makes more sense than putting them out with the trash.

Commentary People Stories

A Grown Man Crying

Today I drove again on Sligo Creek Parkway and past its intersection with Wayne Avenue in Silver Spring, Maryland. I remembered again being halted here by a minor accident. I remember it vividly, because standing beside the bent fender of his new car was a grown man crying. He was crying as in wiping tears from his wet face. He was middle aged and dressed well, wearing glasses, and Asian in appearance. I was touched by this sight, and remember it every time I pass this spot. This has gone on for over 25 years.

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