By Larry Feinstein

Larry Feinstein

Larry Feinstein

Each month, I get a note from the editor indicating the deadline for the following month’s edition. Normally, something hits me and I didn’t think this one would be any different. I wasn’t sure whether I should make a big deal about the end of the year, using it as the context for a story or ignoring it and writing about the usual out of left field stuff that happens to hit me.

What happened to hit me was an awful dose of the flu and it knocked me down. This kind of malaise plays badminton with my brain and emotions, knocking me completely out of whack and off balance, feeling like a stranger in my own head.

I didn’t think it would be possible to feel any worse, but I was wrong.

I started looking at the major news stories, something I do quite regularly, but never when feeling so vulnerable. In the absence of any resistance, it felt painful to read about the inexorable rise of the Earth’s temperature and the devastation that awaits all of us. The Middle East is spiraling out of control, Israel’s intransigence being met by Palestinian stabbings of desperation. We will likely end up with a million refugees from Syria, all looking for new homes in Europe, ill equipped to deal with the onslaught, firing the inevitable rise in xenophobia. On top of that, this flood of human beings creates a far more porous situation for the current crop of demented terrorists.

Fortunately, the temporary mental derangement caused by the flu began to lift and a semblance of clarity slowly etched its way back into my brain. However, I was still stuck with this horrific world of ours, wondering what kind of year-end story to write. I definitely wasn’t in the mood to try and craft an uplifting, hope filled message.


This would be the story I couldn’t avoid, like a huge boulder, filling the sky, falling within inches of my nose and blocking the way forward. It shocked me and catapulted me back into the world of the flu fog, trying to find the dark context for this ugliness. Predicting the immediate fall out from this tragic carnage requires no imagination whatsoever and this is where my story begins.

Whenever suicide bombings, stabbings and all of these politically and/or religiously motivated acts of cowardice take over the center stage of global attention, no one seems to have the time to take a peek behind the curtain, where the witch lives.

What I want to share is such a difficult concept to get across and I don’t think I have the ability to do it right. If a single reader gets angry, I will have failed.

Imagine if you lived in a place where so many people were related to each other, it was nearly impossible to separate one family from another? Even new arrivals are eventually absorbed into this patchwork of humanity. The most familiar example for us is our small island of Kaua‘i, where the bloodlines have been blurred for centuries.

This planet of ours, island Earth, has seen it all. She has been the millennial host for billions of species, including recent arrivals like us. From her perspective, human beings are only one small stone on the infinite necklace of life. Every single one of us is somehow related to all those who have come before and to the very last person on Earth, a direct result of the inevitable trajectory of our behavior today.

My sons and daughters died in Paris and a small number of them blew themselves up because they believed killing other people was righteous. Those refugees from Syria, little children without a familiar face nearby, sleeping in camps with thousands of others, are distant relatives of mine. What have we done to our family to cause such horrible treatment of our innocent cousins and to blind others with a blood rage?

I am left with that question and nothing else, and this is where the witch lives.