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Stewart Harris, Earth Balance
photograph, September 2001

On Sept. 11th I returned home from being married in Northern Ca. in a beautiful woodlands environment. The shock of being awoken with a phone call from my cousin asking where my father was. He flew to New York and was on Staten Island, visiting my sister. I sat in front of the TV for 30 minutes, trying to comprehend what I was seeing before I woke my bride. We were still reveling in our wedding bliss. The Yin Yang symbol was swirling in my mind all day. The meaning behind the symbol rang so true. In the middle of our joy was this ugly reality of destruction Hate springing out of a pool of Love. Then I realized that our honeymoon of flying to Hawaii was not going to happen. I made the calls to cancel the trip after I heard from my family in New York. At first we were paralyzed with thoughts of guilt of thinking about our honeymoon. We only had 2 weeks before we had to go back to work. We decided after talking to family and friends to go somewhere and decided to pack the car and go into Oregon and the Olympic Rain Forest in Washington State. We drove to our favorite retreat, Britenbush in Central Oregon and stayed for 4 days. We hung out with many people discussing causes, possibilities, everything we could think of regarding violence and societies. I walked around a lot taking long hikes. On one of my hikes, one morning by a river I seen a kern, it had a stick with the American flag bundled up and a water bottle hanging from it. I took this picture of the scene and sat by the river. I noticed a lady staring in the river and noticed every now and then things jumping out of the river. The lady waved me over to her and when I walked over, she pointed to the river and I seen salmon, huge salmon, some with nicks and chunks of flesh taken out of them, swimming all around. They were spawning. I never had seen this scene in real life. They were fighting each other for space and jumping out of the water. I was captivated for about an hour thinking about life, nature and how we humans are so much a part of this and think, sometimes claim we are more than nature. After I sat and cried for a while I returned to our cabin to get my wife to show her what my walk revealed to me. We are Nature, not salmon doing what they know and must, we have the ability to think, reason rationally and irrationally. I don't pretend to know why this events happened and the who, what, why, hows, don't intrigue me. What does make me wonder though is what do I believe as a person, I can do to alleviate the pains and nature of this violence. Our history as human beings is wrought with violence, to this day it continues with people using the notion that someone else is the terrorist, so our violence is justified. This is where I can start. I believe that to participate in violent acts, not just the thinking of them, that can't be help. It is a part of nature. What we can help is what we do with our thoughts of it. In the last month, 5 acts of parents killing their families and then themselves have occurred in my area. Around the world hundreds thousands of people are killing in the name of thoughts, they feel are compelled to commit. Then I remember a friend telling me of the Balinese people giving up their lives to people who tried to make them give up their peaceful ways. I was told this happened over and over and the Balinese gave up their lives instead of fighting or changing their ways to suit their aggressors. There are no answers to these words I offer, only thoughts and this picture. Remember, Thoughts, Words have Power. What do you do with yours

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