Footprints in the Sand

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At 16, I won a prize in a local poetry contest—I think it was second place—for this:

I walked along a lonely shore
Upon the just-damp land
And left behind me all the way
My footprints in the sand.
Though some washed clear, a few remained
To tell where I had been,
And someone may have seen and thought
Of something new to him,
For those few footprints somehow changed
The pattern of the land.
I left my mark upon the world—
My footprints in the sand.

Many years later, I heard the Starfish Story. You know that one, don’t you? If not, just Google it. It’s the final line that matters here:

“I made a difference to that one.”

That has been my main life-goal for a very long time: to make a difference to that one. I knew it at 16, which was 50 years ago, when I wrote that poem. My mark on the world would be just footprints in the sand that might happen to make some small positive difference in another’s life.  I’m still working in it.


The Santa Barbara Killings

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(NOTE: I will not use the killer’s name, and I ask that no one do so in comments.)

It seems to me that the vast majority of the commentary on the Santa Barbara killings either completely leaves out or passes over with barely a mention half of the people he killed: the first three.

They don’t seem to fit in with anyone’s cause. They weren’t shot; they were stabbed. They weren’t women; they were men. They weren’t random strangers; two were his roommates and one their visitor. So no one can grab these as support for their own cause.

They didn’t die because we lack gun control (stabbed); they didn’t die because they were women (men); it appears they didn’t die because they were men who were successful with women (no evidence that they were). They died because, according to his writings, he wanted them out of the way and because they were “nerds” and “ugly.” They died because, if one reads between the lines, they were Asian, the subject of the killer’s racist ranting. They died, in my opinion, because of the killer’s self-hatred. (I don’t claim it’s anything more than my opinion, but numerous people have mentioned “narcissism,” and some psychological research links those two.)

George Chen, Cheng Yuan Hong, Weihan Wang.

Three victims of violence. Not gun violence, not misogynistic violence. Maybe racist violence. It doesn’t really matter. As long as there are humans who think their own needs or wants trump others’ right to go on living, there will be violence.

Carrying It with Me

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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