Take the Longer View
Although you do mention that “Pedestrian, bicycle, and public transit alternatives are the only answers to [rising] fuel costs...,” nowhere in your discussions of the planned downtown Knoxville Transit Center do you even allude to how that center will, even potentially, connect with inter-city and light rail systems, bikeways, and greenways.
Nor do you mention incorporation of the Greyhound bus terminal or a central taxi stand into the facility.
Indeed, your limited focus never goes beyond the Knoxville Area Transit (KAT) needs and services. Yet there is much more at stake than simply intra-city or intra-county bus service, as provided by KAT.
If people want to see a well-planned and well-executed example of using federal transportation dollars effectively, contact officials in Jackson, Miss., for example.
There, a first-class renovation of the edge-of-downtown passenger train station is now that city’s hub, not only for Amtrak service, but also for Greyhound, city bus, and taxicab transportation, and contains shops and other amenities as well.
Why are local planners and visionaries—and even alternative newspaper editors—so short-sighted and apparently seem to know only how to address narrowly-focused here-and-now issues?
James J. Reca
Why did it take FEMA over four days to launch significant relief, search and rescue efforts in response to the largest catastrophe in our nation’s history?
Why did thousands of New Orleans citizens have to live in hellish squalor in the Superdome, convention center, and on I-10 for four and five days without food, water, medicine, toilets, or any other relief?
Why were refugees not allowed to leave the city on their own terms once the military began its occupation?
Why were evacuees not given a choice of where they would be sent?
Why did the mainstream U.S. media focus their reporting on “looting” and gangs instead of the countless stories of local, cooperative efforts at rescue and survival?
Why were desperately needed supplies and volunteers turned away at the borders?
Why did the United States refuse Cuba’s offer to send 1,100 doctors? Cuba is the world’s expert at medical care during disaster.
Why is there no centralized, federal registry or database for Katrina’s missing persons?
Why were funds that were intended to shore up the levees diverted to Iraq?
Why, when the American people need them most, is the majority of our National Guard fighting a hopeless oil war?
Why are the oil execs allowed to stick it to the American people at the pumps?
How can the Bush administration claim that we are prepared for further natural disasters (and climate change assures we’ll have them) and terrorist attacks (Bush imperialist policy assures this) after this disgusting display of incompetence?
Citizens of the United States, both red and blue, need to take it to the streets until those responsible (President Bush, Michael Brown of FEMA, Michael Chertoff of Homeland Security) are held accountable for the sickest, poorest, and most marginalized members of our society being left to die.
Victims of What?
How can he justify putting these people on the very program that he claims can’t afford to take care of its own people? It doesn’t matter if it’s one person or 10,000. It is wrong. Not only is it wrong to keep aid from Tennesseans, but it’s really wrong for the governor to try to save face in the wake of someone else’s tragedy. I think it’s called exploitation, and it only makes him look worse, especially to his own state. I don’t deny that the victims of Hurricane Katrina need this help, but what’s it going to take for the people of Tennessee to get what they need? Are we going to have to pile up dead in our homes because we can’t get our medications? It’s just like drowning. Only there is no water.
Silence and Silence
In the article Ms. Piper describes Father Matthew Kelty, the 90-year-old monk and his brother monks at the Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky who taught her that silence is not just the absence of noise. What she describes but did not write is that this silence is a form of prayer that has been practiced for thousands of years by both Christians and non-Christians. In its Christian incarnation it is called Contemplative Prayer or, more popularly, Centering Prayer.
Centering Prayer differs from traditional forms of prayer because the pray-er is not praising the deity or asking for anything. Father Tom Francis of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Ga. says that most people think God does not answer their prayers because they don’t listen. The only time most people take time for an encounter they are the ones doing the talking. Centering Prayer is listening.
The Buddhists refer to the mind wandering from one thought to another as “monkey mind.” Just like monkeys will not let go of one branch before they have another firmly in hand, the mind will not let go of one thought until it grabs on to another one. The silence that Ms. Piper speaks of in her article seeks to still the monkey mind so that one can encounter the creator and listen to what he/she/it has to say. Centering Prayer consists of sitting in silence that is both internal and external by not thinking or, more precisely, attaching to thoughts that arise. An excellent description of the practice recommended by the monks is Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, by Episcopal Priest Cynthia Bourgeault.
A Zen story illustrates the problem. The Zen master Joshu had a student who once asked, “If I haven’t anything in my mind, what shall I do?” To which Joshu replied: “Throw it out.”
“But if I haven’t anything, how can I throw it out?” continued the questioner. “Well,” said Joshu, “Then carry it out.” Joshu’s point, of course, was that the student was aware that nothing was in his mind which means that he was aware of himself.
Guidelines for Incoming Mail