Sunday, March 27, 2011

Greensboro goes green, washes away sins of past, present

A friend posted this article on Facebook. As a native of Greensboro, I think it is both silly and unfortunate:

The Impulsive Traveler: Going green in Greensboro, N.C.

“This is Greensboro?” my partner, Melissa, asked with surprise, gazing up at the LEED Platinum-certified Proximity Hotel, its 100 solar panels gleaming futuristically back at the sun. “When I think of Greensboro, all I picture is the KKK massacring protesters.”

True, the city suffers from a long-standing image problem. On Nov. 3, 1979, local Ku Klux Klan members shot and killed five Communist Worker Party activists during a street protest here. The incident became known as the “Greensboro Massacre” and was examined in documentaries such as “88 Seconds in Greensboro.” The accused Klansmen, in the end, were acquitted by an all-white jury.

I tried not to think about Greensboro’s dark past as our bellhop escorted us through the Proximity Hotel’s sun-filled lobby, explaining that the furniture was locally sourced and that one-fifth of the concrete walls were made of fly ash from incinerated garbage.

The elevator to our room, remarkably, was self-powered, its downward motion fueling the upward lift. The bellhop enthusiastically told us that the hotel uses 40 percent less energy and 30 percent less water than comparable hotels. Solar panels heat well over half the water for the rooms and the restaurant. No wonder this place became the first American hotel to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system’s highest rating.

The surprises continued in our room. “Eco” certainly didn’t mean austere. Loft-style high ceilings allowed sunlight to warm our bed. A sliding door opened up the modern bathroom to natural light as well.

Later, down in the lobby, a cheery receptionist asked, “Ready for your bikes?”

“You rent them?” I inquired.

“They’re free for all guests,” she replied. “To provide a healthy alternative to. . .” Was it my imagination, or was she frowning toward the parking lot?

I gradually gathered that she was suggesting that we give our car a rest from gas-gulping. Before I could even mutter a reply, the concierge appeared out front with two new bikes and helmets. Melissa shrugged and dropped our car keys into her purse, where they would remain for most of our stay.

While gliding along Greensboro’s excellent bike paths, we learned that the city is busy constructing one of the country’s first urban greenway loops, complete with bike and walking trails, as well as a space for public art displays.

Our dark stereotype of Greensboro was further undermined at our first stop: a “living museum” called Elsewhere, housed in a half-century-old thrift store where the artists use only recycled material to create interactive sculpture. “You don’t see a gift shop here,” one of the artists in residence said to me. “Nothing is sold at Elsewhere.”

Ooooh, Greensboro's dark past! But look, see? All of these green initiatives make it all better! They're enlightened now, the racist troglodytes! Greensboro is a veritable utopia; why if this Elsewhere place is any indication, they'll all be sharing property communally before too long!

One isolated incident in 1979 in which one small group of whackjobs kills another small group of whackjobs is deserving of a "dark past" label? Places like Srebrenica have a truly dark past. What about the other 200 years of Greensboro's history? Wouldn't maybe the Battle of Guilford Courthouse come to mind? A really significant event? Or the sit-ins that occurred there in 1960? But I digress on this point.

Dinner was a tough choice. I craved Montagnard food. After all, we were in Greensboro, home to the largest number of Montagnards (a collection of mountain tribes from Vietnam’s highlands) outside Vietnam. But Melissa won out in the end; we hit a local bistro for some rabbit and Bibb lettuce supplied by local farms.

Over dessert, we probed our waiter on the subject of Greensboro. The city is part of the 1.5 million-inhabitant Piedmont Triad (along with the smaller Winston-Salem and High Point). The Triad grew first into a national textile and furniture-making hub and more recently added technology and biotechnology to the mix. Our waiter took pride in telling us that his city has developed a sensitivity to the environment, noting that in 2004, the Department of Energy awarded Greensboro entry to the Clean Cities Hall of Fame.

The next day, I was to give a lecture at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The university’s Committee on Sustainability had invited me to discuss my book, “Twelve by Twelve: A One Room Cabin, Off the Grid & Beyond the American Dream,” about an American physician and permaculturalist who lives Thoreau-style in a 12-by-12-foot off-grid house.

To be frank, I expected a small turnout. But again, the city surprised. The room filled up with enthusiastic readers who had chosen my book for their Green Book Club. When I asked, “What’s your 12-by-12?” they showered the room with ideas on ecological living. I learned that Greensboro was the birthplace of well-known environmentalist Thomas Berry, and that the late CBS news anchor Edward R. Murrow had grown up in a log cabin outside town.

After the book-signing session, I chatted with attendees in the lobby beside a glass case holding a trumpet that Miles Davis had donated to the school. Beyond the encased horn — the very one that the jazz great had used to record “Kind of Blue”— was a footbridge over a forest, in a spot where there had once been a paved road. A middle-aged man looked me in the eye and said proudly, “We took out the road and gave it back to Mother Nature.” If Miles Davis could see Greensboro today, I chuckled to myself, he might change his tune to “Kind of Green.”

Over lunch at the vegan cafe Boba House, a student environmentalist told me: “In my free time, I slay vampires.” She and dozens of other students dress up as “vampire slayers” to alert fellow students to “vampire energy” — like leaving a computer on when you’re not using it. And the entire university was undergoing a major energy audit.

That afternoon, local resident Charlie Headington gave us a tour of his urban permaculture homestead near the university. Wearing a smile, he led Melissa and me through a marvelous backyard brimming with lettuce and grape trellising. As I looked around, I thought: This is what utopia must look like. Luscious hues of kelly and peacock green — a mix of fruit trees — rose over a clean pool of water stocked with fish. Brightly colored flowers sprouted from their pots, and Charlie’s perky crops felt a little like a welcoming committee.

One thing I will say in defense of this piece: you can get really good Vietnamese food in Greensboro. For me, it has almost become a kind of secondhand regional cuisine. You can't get Vietnamese food where I currently live - Mississippi - but when I go home to North Carolina I always try to visit my favorite place, Binh Minh on West Market. But who craves Montagnard food? I mean, not that I doubt that Montagnard food would be good, but doesn't such a craving just scream decadent westerner?

The whole piece just drips with a kind of frivolity and decadence.

This piece does not portray Greensboro as it is, but rather as how a certain segment of its predominantly white, wealthy residents want it portrayed. As historian Bill Chafe wrote in his Civilities and Civil Rights, Greensboro has long been in the business of cultivating a progressive mystique, and I believe in a sense that this continues today. Greensboro is a community, like many southern communities, that remains fundamentally divided along racial lines. You have only to look at what has been going on in the Greensboro police department of late for proof of that. But you can also look at the extent of the city's greenways and bike paths and see that they primarily only benefit one side of town - the west - terminating at Elm Street, more or less the dividing line between areas that are predominantly white and predominantly black/latino.

There is still a very visible disparity between the haves and have nots in Greensboro - not that I advocate some kind of redistribution of wealth. But it's not a utopia. And it's certainly not populated solely by a mass of Cold Water Army enviro-acolytes (although there are many I know firsthand). Normal southern people live there who like to eat barbecue and drive big trucks. People who don't listen to Miles Davis and crave Montagnard food.

Thank God there are people who don't stay at the Proximity Hotel, drive Priuses, or get euphoric over grape trellising.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The dog coming in and the dog going out

Well I've been lockin' myself up in my house for sometime now
Readin' and writin' and readin' and thinkin'
and searching for reasons and missing the seasons.
The Autumn, the Spring, the Summer, the snow.
The record will stop and the record will go.
Latches latched the windows down,
the dog coming in and the dog going out.
Up with caffeine and down with a shot.
Constantly worried about what I've got.
Distracting my work but I can't make a stop
and my confidence on and my confidence off.
And I sink to the bottom and rise to the top
and I think to myself that I do this a lot.
World outside just goes it goes it goes it goes it goes it goes...
and witness it all from the blinds of my window.

- Avett Brothers, "Talk On Indolence"

Pretty much describes my life right now to a T, right down to the dog coming in and the dog going out.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

I Hate Duke

The Tar Heels just lost to Duke. All evening I've been muttering to myself about how much I hate Duke.

I hate them.

I hate them with a simple, honest hatred which, unfortunately, they don't teach children anymore. I'm determined that my child, should I produce one, will know this hatred - it gives a man purpose and focus.

For those who claim that rivalry is all in fun, that you shouldn't really hate Duke, I have news for you - you're doing it wrong. Tell that to the Cameron Crazies who throw Twinkies at players they perceive as overweight.

Why, you ask, do I hate a team? A school? How could a game involving a ball and men in shorts inspire such disgust? Am I not an enlightened, educated man? All of it is so silly - it would seem on the surface - that this bookish fellow would hate a sports team as if it were some ancient enemy.

But that's what Duke is to me. I was raised to be a Tarheel fan, which you might consider a mere accident of birth. But I don't believe in accidents of birth; God made me a Carolina fan. I thank God I wasn't raised by a Duke fan, bred up to be one of the sickening Cameron Crazies. Thank God I was taught to reverence names like Smith, Jordan, Wallace, Stackhouse, Worthy, Reid, Montross and (Woody) Durham.

Growing up, Tar Heel basketball was a very serious matter. Carolina basketball was the only thing that could shake the foundations of our house - I have innumerable memories of breathless moments spent in front of the TV watching Carolina basketball, my father always sitting on the floor on his knees, hitting the floor and yelling at the top of his lungs. He's like a man possessed when Carolina plays, as if his being is wrapped up in the fate of the team; as if by screaming he can somehow will them through some kind of Druidic alchemy.

He throws things at the TV, usually soft objects like pillows, but on occasion will strike the screen with his bare hands whenever the face of Mike Krzysdfkasdfoimiuiyoeski, or any other rat-faced Dook player presents itself. I'm convinced this has an effect.

He spews venom against referees as if they were a race of corrupt men - every referee in the history of sports is to him a suspect personage, but particularly referees who officiate at Carolina basketball games. Referees have all been bought out by Duke or some shadowy conspiracy. A still more likely possibility is that all referees just hate Carolina, so they must be called out and exposed for the charlatans they are.

Yes, my father is a madman when it comes to Carolina basketball. It's the most beautiful mania.

Recently I learned that dad had stopped listening to Woody Durham because he believes that when he listens to Woody Durham, Carolina loses. This is insane superstition, but it's beautiful.

This kind of insanity has rubbed off on me. I actually have trouble watching Carolina play Duke because I think it will jinx them. Tonight I didn't watch because I don't have a TV, and despite that they still lost (even though they led by something like 16 at half time). This doesn't shake my belief that not watching will somehow enable them to win - when you don't have a TV the rules don't apply.

But all of this hatred and mania is perfectly justifiable because Duke sucks. Duke is a bastion of elitism built on tobacco blood money; a resort for New Jerseyites who drive Saabs and cling fiercely to an imagined sense of superiority and entitlement.

I could never give voice to my disgust at Duke as eloquently as Ian Williams' Daily Tar Heel column written over 20 years ago. But as he makes clear, this is not just a negative hate (and it is oh so negative), but a hate that is born out of love for a place - both the state of North Carolina and the school which has represented it for over 200 years.

Duke are the bad guys - and I'm grateful for the bad guys.

And that's as close as I'll ever come to appreciating Duke.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Roe v. Wade anniversary

Yesterday, the President marked the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. He declared that he was "committed to protecting this constitutional right." Orthodox Christians mark this anniversary with a molieben service for the victims of abortion:

O most merciful, all gracious and compassionate Lord Jesus Christ our Savior, Son of God: we entreat Thee, most gracious Master: look with compassion upon Thy children who have been condemned to death by the unjust judgment of men. And as Thou hast promised to bestow the heavenly kingdom on those born of water and the Spirit, and who in blamelessness of life have been translated unto Thee; and Who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven” – we humbly pray, according to Thine unfailing promise: grant the inheritance of Thy kingdom to the multitude of spotless infants who have been cruelly murdered in the abortuaries of this land; for Thou art the resurrection and the life and the repose of all Thy servants and of these innocents, O Christ our God.

Turn the hearts of those who seek to destroy Thy little ones. We beseech Thee to pour forth Thy healing grace upon them, that they may be convicted in their hearts and turn from their evil ways. Remember all of them that kill our children as on the altars of Moloch, and render not unto them according to their deeds, but according to Thy great mercy convert them: the unbelieving to true faith and piety, and the believing that they may turn from evil and do good.

- From The Service of Supplication for the Victims of Abortion

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A few thoughts on El Al security and junk

The kerfuffle over TSA groping reminds me of my experiences three years ago when I went through El Al security on a flight from Greece to Israel. My girlfriend and I had to report to the terminal three hours before our flight, not an easy task when you are driving from Glyfada, a fashionable suburb of Athens, to the Athens International Airport. Along the way we got caught in a traffic jam behind a flat bed truck that was home to a family of gypsies. My girlfriend's irate grandfather, a large, rectangular Greek native, cajoled and gesticulated his way through Athens traffic, and despite my fear that we wouldn't make it in time, managed to deliver us to the airport in a timely fashion.

When we arrived at the terminal we were approached by a young man who spoke flawless English. He took our passports, examined them, and handed them off to another sentinel who I presume took them to a back room to check them against whatever Mossad database they likely have access to. The young man took his place behind a kind of lectern and very politely began to interview us. His questions at first were rather innocuous: What are your names? Where are you from? What is the purpose of your trip? How long do you plan on staying in Israel? It felt like one of those scenes in a POW escape movie where the characters are questioned by a incredulous gendarme. We quickly got through these questions, but they were soon followed by more prying questions: Where are you staying? What hotels or hostels are you staying in? Do you have an itinerary? Luckily we had been provided (by my girlfriend's mother) with a very detailed itinerary. This pleased our interrogator.

But the questions didn't stop there, they became still more prying: What is the nature of your relationship? How long have you been together? Do you sleep together?

Er. . . This was feeling less and less like a POW escape movie and more like couples therapy. At the time I wondered just what the point of asking if we slept together could be, but later I thought that perhaps the interrogator was trained to notice physical responses or cues which might clue him in to whether this "relationship" was only a ruse.

After 20 or 30 minutes of interview our passports were returned and we were allowed to enter the secure area of the terminal. The idea of flying on an Israeli airline is somewhat unsettling; it brings to mind hijackings and the PFLP. Athens International Airport itself was the scene of a PFLP attack on an El Al aircraft in 1968, which resulted in the death of an Israeli mechanic. But after having been through the interview process I felt very secure - more secure than I've felt in any airport terminal or on any aircraft. And during the process no one actually touched my person. I was never frisked or asked to undress.

My "junk" was not abused.

I'm not saying this method of security is a perfect fit for the U.S., but it offers us some valuable lessons. The U.S. is of course much larger than Israel and experiences a higher volume of traffic. In this respect it might not be ideal. Yes, the Israelis profile people (the horror!). We in the United States seem to be of the opinion that if profiling were to ever be enacted that the Constitution would spontaneously combust and the nation would become a jack-booted autocracy (which, according to whoever is currently out of power every 4 to 8 years, is just around the corner). Regardless of what pundits and professors may tell you, the United States is not in danger of becoming a herrenvolk democracy (again). Those who would surrender liberty for security deserve neither, we're told. But isn't that a false dilemma? What is liberty without security? An Ayn Rand wet dream perhaps.

What the vast majority of people want is dialogue between the two. The question I would like to pose is what is more tolerable, having a total stranger touch your "junk" or have to answer prying questions about who gets to touch that "junk." If people expect security (and liberty), then some level of prying by security officials will have to be accepted. I am of the opinion that security screening should be more based on detecting the person rather than the object - whether bomb, gun, or box cutter.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Black Bears and Black Confederates: The complex racial heritage of Ole Miss's new mascot

After several years of having no "official" on-field mascot, the Black Bear has been chosen by the University of Mississippi as its new symbol. For decades, the mascot of Ole Miss was an old, Shelby Foote-esque southern plantation owner named "Colonel Reb." Sporting a cane, a stetson hat and a frock coat, Colonel Reb is a stereotype as equally unrepresentative of the South and southern whites as Jethro Bodine would be for residents of Appalachia, or the cast of Jersey Shore would be for, well, the whole of New Jersey (my apologies to Colonel Reb and Jethro Bodine for inclusion in such company).

Despite the fact that "Ole Miss" is itself a term veritably dripping with racist connotations rooted in slavery (Ole Missus is slave parlance for the plantation mistress); despite the fact that the campus of Ole Miss is dotted with monuments to the Lost Cause, including two monuments to Confederate dead and a stained glass window honoring the University Grays, a local unit which was almost totally wiped out at Gettysburg, the school administration thought dropping the Colonel Reb image - perhaps the most inoffensive image of all - would signal that finally Ole Miss had left its racist past behind and was moving forward. After removing Colonel Reb by executive fiat (much to the consternation of students and alumni), appointing committees to draft new mascot ideas (which included the laughable "landshark" and unspeakably stupid "Hotty Toddy"), a new mascot, a black bear, was chosen.

There are, as far as I know, no longer any black bears in North Mississippi. But the bear has at least some tenuous connection to local lore and to Mississippi history. "The Bear," widely considered to be one of William Faulkner's greatest short stories, is set in Faulkner's fictitious Yoknapatawpha County - a parallel version of the real Lafayette County, Mississippi. The tale, which deals with guilt over man's destruction of the land, as well as his cruelty to man (particularly, in this story in the form of slavery), is a brilliant meditation on human nature and on the character of the South. The story centers on a hunt for a massive, seemingly invulnerable bear named Old Ben (think of the bear in the movie "Prophecy"). Despite being shot dozens of times, he always manages to survive. Literary critics consider it to be the greatest hunting story ever told. I think Faulkner, who was considered an oddball by Oxonians, would have found it funny that his tale would be cited as the inspiration for the university mascot.

But even at the center of this tale of the bear - this new symbol seemingly free of all racial baggage - is a dark past of violence and exploitation. The new factor, however, is guilt. The story centers around the guilt of Ike, who is slated to inherit his family's plantation. But guilt over slavery causes him to renounce his inheritance. The story isn't merely a lively tale about a ferocious bear, but a meditation on the evils of slavery; and as such I feel as though citing it as the inspiration for a college sports mascot is rather strange. But given the context - a school wishing to shed its past associations with slavery and racism - perhaps it is fitting. But Ole Miss has not fully repudiated the image of Colonel Reb - it still owns his image, and even a cursory online search reveals that products bearing his likeness are still for sale.

Mississippi is, apparently, rich in bear lore. It was to Mississippi that Teddy Roosevelt repaired for a bear hunting expedition in 1902. At the invitation of the governor, Roosevelt had come to play the rough, virile figure he was by then so practiced at playing. As his guide was selected Holt Collier, a near mythical figure who is rather like someone who stepped out of one of Faulkner's novels. But Collier is perhaps more fantastical than anyone Faulkner could conjure. Born a slave, Collier was hunting before he had his first pubic hairs. By the age of 10 he was an accomplished marksman and had killed his first bear. When the war broke out between the States, Collier wanted to join his master on the battlefield. He was told that he was too young. Collier snuck away from the plantation, boarded a river boat, and joined up with a Confederate unit in Texas. He served as a scout and apparently as a "spy," although all of the details remain to me, as yet, unclear. As a hunter, Collier was unparalleled; he was rumored to have killed 3,000 bears. Collier is easily the equal of such legendary figures and pioneers as Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, and Jim Bowie - only quite possibly more badass. A highly praised book by the scholar Minor Ferris Buchanan on the subject of Collier has been added to my "to read" list.

Holt Collier

But I digress. During the legendary hunt which would spawn the "teddy bear," Collier cornered a black bear for the President. When Roosevelt failed to appear to dispatch the beast (the President was apparently off somewhere only pretending to be a badass), Collier was faced with the possibility that it would escape. Rather than look like a trifling fool for letting the President's bear get away, Collier took the butt of his gun and went toe to toe with the animal. By himself, Collier subdued the animal and tied it to a nearby tree. When Roosevelt arrived, he refused to shoot an animal that had been tied up. The lesser known part of this story is that Roosevelt was in awe of Collier, who then regaled Roosevelt and his coterie of hangers-on with stories of his experiences in slavery, the Civil War, and in the days of Reconstruction. Roosevelt was so impressed with Collier that he went on another hunt with him years later.

Yet again, at the heart of another story which the bear mascot draws upon, we have another complex set of circumstances which reach back to the Old South. Only this time it is perhaps more confounding. While the story of "The Bear" has the guilt of slavery, the figure of Holt Collier is a "loyal" slave, who fought alongside his master on the side of the Confederacy. An acquaintance of mine is constantly harping on how memorialization of the Confederacy is a "whites only" activity - and as such it should be jettisoned from a public university like Ole Miss. While I do not deny the centrality of the ideologies of white supremacy to the South (and really, the ideologies of white supremacy were central to American history as a whole), to say that it is a "whites only" activity is an oversimplification. Several of the "civilized" Indian tribes sided with the Confederacy, for one. Moreover, there were slaves, whether we like it or not, who served in some battlefield roles. This does not mean that slaves made up a large contingent in the Confederate army, or as some in the SCV like to claim, that the Civil War was not about slavery. There were men like Holt Collier - slaves - who because of ties of affection to their masters (I know academics who would roll up their eyes in horror at such a suggestion) sided with the Confederacy. The Old South, for all of its cruelty, was also in the words of Eugene Genovese, a culture that bound two peoples together in a complex "organic relationship."

And Confederate memorialization has been reclaimed by some - I stress some - blacks. Two come to mind: On one end of the spectrum is the oddball Lost Cause advocate H.K. Edgerton, who gave the most rousing pro-Confederate speech I have ever heard (I met him at a reenactment in North Carolina). On the opposite end of the spectrum is Essie Mae Washington-Williams, the illegitimate daughter of Strom Thurmond, who has encouraged African Americans to join the UDC/SCV in order to get in touch with their white roots.

Confederate memory, like southern history (and indeed all of American history) is complicated. And that complexity comes through even in the figure of a seemingly innocuous black bear. We aren't just dealing with a mean animal that can potentially intimidate opponents or that little kiddies will enjoy at football events; but something that is meant to represent the essence of Ole Miss, as an entity that is bound up with the traditions of locality and state. The lore surrounding the black bear is deeply tied up with the South's complex racial past; it is by no means a figure uncomplicated by race. While this racial association is not visibly written on the figure of the black bear - it is there, embedded in the stories which give the symbol its life. And in an ironic twist it even manages a backhanded paw swipe at those who would dethrone the Confederate symbolism of Ole Miss.

Whether the bear will be able to reverse Ole Miss's fortunes on the football field is doubtful. Houston Nutt continues to confound me.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A prayer for September 11th

From Fr. John Troy of St. John Antiochian Orthodox Church comes the following prayer, "which has been blessed to say before the dismissal of all divine services tomorrow [September 11th] and Sunday."

A prayer for September 11th

O Lord our God, Who art Thyself, the Hope of the hopeless, the Help of the helpless, the Savior of the storm-tossed, the Haven of the voyager, the Physician of the sick; be all things to our land which nine years ago on this date was devastated by the cowardly and hateful acts of false martyrs; who imitated wicked Herod in his slaughter of 14,000 innocents, whose only crime was to be born at the time of Thine incarnation. For those who lost loved ones, grant the comfort you imparted to Mary and Martha before you raised Lazarus and care for them as Thou didst care for Thy Mother from the Cross, putting her in the care of the Apostle John. For the survivors, grant them healing in every sense, as you strengthened and healed the confessors. For those related to and aiding the survivors and the families of the fallen, grant the strength and compassion Thou didst instill in Thy foster father Joseph, who was Thy guardian in Thine earthly youth. For those who died, grant them remission of their every sin in Thy great compassion; both those who like the wise servant and the wise virgins, constantly prepared themselves to enter the heavenly banquet at any hour; and those who emulated the Rich Fool, preferring to enjoy earthly pursuits and ignore heavenly ones. To the rest of us, instill in us the knowledge that while the devil still manipulates our Divinely-given free will to his own ends in this world, his power is fleeting and ultimately void, as Thou hast already crushed his dominion, leaving to him only those who freely choose him. Remind us that, while evil at times seems to win, and the death of the innocent seems to signal the destruction of goodness, the innocent are at peace, and while the God-fearing will endure a period of torment; those who choose evil shall endure eternal torment. For those who hate us, speak to their hearts as St. Procla sought to speak to her husband Pilate concerning Thee, and as Thou didst speak to Pharoah concerning the Hebrews, to soften the hearts of those who seek our destruction. Spare us O Lord, from all hatred of the murderers, and from prejudice toward those whose only crime is to be of their ethnicity and/or religion. Spare us, O Lord, from paranoia and rash acts by which we trample each other like rabid beasts. Spare, O Lord, those who protect us, those who serve in our government, armed forces, law enforcement agencies and all first responders, from despondency, disillusionment, and all things which would undermine their righteous calling to protect us in the manner of our Guardian Angels, and care for us in the manner of the Good Samaritan. All this we ask of Thee our all-powerful and all-loving Saviour, together with Thine unorginate Father, and Thine all-holy and good and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.