Because I was born with a disability, I was never able to keep up with my peers, so I spent most of my time reading and dreaming. Dreaming more than anything. From those dreams, stories emerged, and so began my love affair with writing.
An Immigrant Nation
To the impoverished immigrant, America must have seemed like a poor man's utopia, and The Statue of Liberty - completed in 1884 - was a potent symbol of their hopes and dreams. Inscribed in the base of this distinguished landmark is The New Colossus, a poem by Emma Lazarus, herself the child of Portuguese immigrants. In this poem, she refers to the statue, and indeed the entire nation, as the “Mother of Exiles.” This imagery is appropriate, because the first Americans were, in large part, political and religious exiles.
The Night Train
As a kid, lying in bed on tepid summer nights, the wind blowing through the half-opened window, I would listen for the night train. She was not some mystical ghost machine chugging eternally through the night. She was as real as bones. Her nightly cargo was coal, brought down from the mountain, the fruit of dangerous labor. My brothers would sleep through her nightly run, but she probably found her way into their dreams. I would just lie there most nights, awake and waiting, a trend that would follow me throughout my life. Awake and waiting.
Birds in Flight
Swirls of drifting snow danced across the glistening surface of the frozen pond, wispy angels spinning on their toes, pirouetting to the tune of the howling wind. Adam held onto her father’s arm as they shuffled across the ice. She wanted so badly to glide over the smooth surface, but she wasn’t quite ready to let go.
Days of heaven became days of hell. It wasn’t the rapturous final judgment of mankind that had turned heaven to hell; it was the banks, the land-men, the police. The landowners were beholden to the banks, so when the dust came in, they had to sell their acreage, had to issue evictions. But those poor, uneducated tenant farmers didn’t understand it was the banks stealing their homes. The land-men had grown fat on the years of toil and torment the tenants had put into the land. They waved their smooth, dismissive hands at the pleas and the protests. They gave the tenants a day, maybe two to vacate their ancestral homes. Sometimes, if the land-men were fair and honest, they would give them two weeks. As generous as this was in the minds of those aloof, comfortable land-men, it was never enough time for the tenants to settle their hearts. If they stayed too long, burdened by the idea of abandoning the only home they had ever known, that was when the banks unleashed their attack dogs, men of law dressed in blues or tans.
The City is My Bones
Though many years and more than six hundred miles have come between us, I will always feel a connection to the city of brotherly love. In the same way that my heart is part of my circulatory system, Philadelphia is a part of me.
History and Memory
Individual and collective memories of historic events are unreliable. Because memories are influenced by internal and external forces, the recollection of events can be rendered incomplete or incorrect by factors such as time, sentiment, circumstance, and even basic human ego.
Knowledge fosters truth and truth feeds reason. The ultimate goal of philosophical analysis should then, therefore, be the development of reason through the revelation of truth. Truth, though, requires continual development, because although certain knowledge may seem like a universal truth, universal truth only comes with complete understanding of all things, all elements, and all the intricacies of existence. No one can claim to possess universal truth, because no one, as far as we know, is universally aware.
The World That Came After
Wars are transformative events, but because of the nature of warfare prior to the twentieth century, their consequences were generally localized. The thirty-two years war, for instance, involved many combatants, but Eastern and Central Europe experienced the bulk of the consequences. World War II, on the other hand, was a massive global conflict, a war of such magnitude that the consequences carried worldwide significance and would vastly alter the course of human history.