Over the past weeks I have found myself so deeply disheartened at the absence of kindness, fairness, compassion and honesty on the part of my country’s leaders I’ve had a hard time moving the pen across the page. On nearly every front: political, business, religious, the media and more, I see choices driven by greed, dishonesty and a lack of respect for human life. I see New Orleans still in horrifying disarray and our young men and women being killed and maimed overseas. We have a federal government more wedded to political one upsmanship then it is to bringing our young people home and saving some lives – ours and the Iraqis. Any voiced concern for the environment, for the life of Mother Earth is, more often than not, an exercise in lip service. And, of course, the oil companies and the military complex continue tearing every dollar they can from the wallets and purses of a hard working public.
And forget about real regard and respect for law enforcment. In my last blog post I called for an Amber-alert type system to be put in place for law enforcement officers. I even sent it to some elected officials. No response. I sent it to some newspapers like the Albany Times Union and the New York Times. They did not publish it. Why? It was timely. State troopers had again been shot in my state and one was killed in the cross fire?
Despite all the aforementioned, none of us can afford to stay silent. I think it was Dante who said, and I am paraphrasing, The hottest places in hell are saved for those who remain silent in times of trouble. And so I will not, and I hope you will not, stay silent.
There are a few things on my mind now, goals I have, if you will, and I am asking for your help in achieving them.
1) I will soon begin publishing a series of essays on living life with brain damage. As most of you know, I live with brain damage as a result being shot in the head in 1984. Living with a brain injury, or a TBI (traumatic brain injury) is different every day. And given that nearly 2 million Americans suffer brain injuries annually (with more than 50,000 dying from them) and given that many of our veterans are coming home with brain injuries, the more people understand what it is like to live with one, the better equipped everyone will be to provide the deserved support. I am asking you to please make as many people as you can aware of these essays.
2) Given the recent Virginia Tech killings and our culture’s addiction to violence, I am looking to begin a college and high school speaking tour. Those of you who have connections in this area, please let me know. I will be acting as my own agent in this endeavor. I have lived a life that has included a wide range of experiences: being shot, homelessness, getting arrested, time in reform school, suicides of loved ones, loss of family, alcoholism, brain injury and PTSD. I have, as many of you know, given numerous speeches and I think life has placed me in a position to help young people (and adults) make the discovery that they need not be defined or controlled by the challenges they face. That their right to a good life does not deserve to be derailed.
3) Needless to say, I will continue, from time to time, to publish sections from the memoir in-progress and other nuggets.
I am asking all of you to please share this blog with everyone you know. Please ask people to join.
Lastly, from my heart to your heart, thank you for reading this blog. It is my sincere hope that joy, good health, happiness, love and a safe life are your constant companions.
I know what I wanted to say in this letter to you, I only hope I have said it.
Warmth and respect,
Peter S. Kahrmann