Saturday was one of those perfect days in Anchorage. The sun was shinning, there was a nice breeze and summer still seemed to stretch forever in front of us. Even the mosquitoes took a day off to just laze around and enjoy the antics at the dog jog in Kincaid Park.
I was there with the Parrot Education and Adoption Center. I had my two foster birds and my very own African Grey, Abdul. They all seemed to enjoy the warmth, noise, dogs and attention. Abdul in particular thought it was all quite amusing and couldn’t look in enough places at once to take it all in. I think he was startled to find out that god had thought it necessary to make so many different dogs when She could have been expending her energy on creating more birds.
There were dogs dressed in bizarre outfits, dogs dressed like owners, dogs bigger than their owners and dogs so small you had to squint to be sure they were really there. Old and young, from grandparents to little ones in strollers, people wandered the green at Kincaid and reveled in the scene. For dog lovers, it was the kind of day that left you just grinning from ear to ear.
I had a young friend with me who’d never been to the Saturday market so we drifted over there for food and window shopping after the dog jog ended and my birds were returned to the quiet of their cages.
After eating our way through the market, we headed over to the Governor’s Picnic on the Park Strip. We roamed around enjoying the music, the weather, the odd assortment of mascots in various dress such as eagles and – my personal favorite – the dancing blood drop. We watched Nancy Murkowski serve up salmon burgers with a smile that had to hurt to hold after the first hour. But she’s a game lady and never flagged.
And through it all, through this ideal day of sunshine and neighbors and free food and silly dancing blood drops, I kept thinking once again how much we take for granted that these days are ours by right and that no one will harm us while we enjoy them. No one will bomb us; no fanatic will think that some god he’s created in his demented and warped mind will be presenting him with 13 virgins for blowing us up.
I’m not an expert on Islam but I studied comparative theology enough in my misspent youth to know that suicide bombers are nothing more than cowardly murderers and no more represent Islam than the sniper who murders a doctor through a kitchen window to protest abortions really represents Christianity. The only extremist I can think of who ever really represented his religion well was Gandhi. And he’s probably the only extremist any of us can think of in modern times who actually achieved his goal.
I have never understood people who hurt the innocent, no matter what the reason or supposed cause. I’ve never really understood people who torture animals and little children, who beat women and the elderly. Does that really make them feel manly and macho? “Look at me, I can stomp on a puppy, I must be pretty virile!”
Suicide bombers are just as cowardly and emasculated as wife beaters and child molesters. They can only feel power by lashing out at the powerless. And while no one is calling England or America powerless nations, commuters sitting on a train trying to make a living for themselves and their families are. Their lives, and our whole way of life, depends on being able to sit on that subway car, bus or plane and know that we can safely get from here to there and back again.
In London, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan – in far too many places in our world today – people have cause to wonder if just making it to work will be deadly for them because these cowards who claim to operate under divine fiat are, in fact, working for nothing more than evil and venal ends. They see what the rest of the world has and have decided that if they can’t have it, they’ll destroy it so no one else can have it either.
They’re wrong, of course. They won’t destroy us. And guess what? They probably are not going to find 13 virgins waiting for them in heaven either. They are, it would seem, complete losers.