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A daily 1-minute thought.

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Fifty Miles from Tomorrow: Willie Hensley

Taken from Fifty Miles from Tomorrow by Willie Iggiagruk Hensley, published by Sarah Crichton Books, and used by permission.

Read by Willie Iggiagruk Hensley: Born in a small house where Kotzebue Sound washes seafoam onto the Baldwin Peninsula's gravel shores, Willie is a lifelong Alaskan. He loves words and communicating about ideas -- from learning to read with Sears-Roebuck and Dick and Jane to studying and collecting old books about Alaska and doing any crossword puzzle he can get a pen onto. Willie is just a little bit surprised to be able to mention his own website, williehensley.com.

I have been asked to read this passage from my recent book, Fifty Miles from Tomorrow, about the loss of my family home in Kotzebue.

"This was the place where decade after decade the family had tied its dogs, beached its beluga, dried its seal meat and salmon, and moored its qayaqs and umiaqs. This was where year after year the father and sons would step out on the beach to assess the water, the clouds, and the wind before venturing out on the hunt.
...
We did not think of  straight lines and pieces of paper as describing our relationship to the land.
...
[But] in Kotzebue, the BLM surveyors had come to town, surveyed the entire three-mile spit from the beach back to the lagoon, then auctioned off hundreds of lots. ... [T]he local Iñupiat never had a chance. Many were out of town gathering food for the winter when the auction was held. .... The result of the auction was to prevent future generations of Native families from ever owning land, dooming them to be renters or squatters on what was now considered other people's property."



A Boring Evening at Home: Alison Hull

Taken from A Boring Evening at Home by Gerda Weissmann Klein, published by Leading Authorities Press and used by permission.

Read by Alison Hull: "The following story, like all good commentary, resonates far beyond the moment." Alison came to Alaska for the outdoors 10 years ago. Alaska is unique for the opportunities it provides to create individual and community growth and change. Check out the Anchorage Fencing Club.

Gerda Weissman Klein, a survivor of the Holocaust, visited Alaska last year. In her book, A Boring Evening at Home, Mrs. Klein reflects on her life before and after her years in World War II camps. She tells this story of her son, James.

"He and his friend Andy had found a few small tadpoles, and each of the boys made a small pond. ... One morning Jimmy came back from the beach, his huge blue eyes brimming with tears. ...that morning he had felt so sorry for the tadpoles that he had decided to release them. ... He was facing a dilemma. He had freed Andy's tadpoles as well! Did he have the right to do so? When I asked why he hadn't consulted Andy before granting the tadpoles their freedom, his argument was that Andy probably would not have agreed to restore the tadpoles to Lake Erie. That was not enough, however. The next question was one of morality. Who had greater rights: the tadpoles or Andy?"



The Diary of a Young Girl: Rev. Beatrice Hitchcock

Taken from The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, published by Doubleday.  

Contributed by Carol Simonetti. Read by the Rev. Beatrice Hitchcock, Interim Minister of the Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. As a U.U., she appreciates the search for "the belief that helps you most."

From Anne Frank's diary entry of July 15, 1944:

"Anyone who claims that the older ones have a more difficult time here certainly doesn't realize to what extent our problems weigh down on us, problems for which we are probably much too young, but which thrust themselves upon us continually.... That's the difficulty in these times: ideals, dreams, and cherished hopes rise within us, only to meet the horrible truth and be shattered.

It's a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart."

Anne was to have only two more entries before the Gestapo found the Annex on August 4, 1944 and sent her to Auschwitz, then Bergen-Belsen, where she died in March 1945. She was not yet sixteen.



Edward R. Murrow Address: John McKay

Used as the Forward to Kenneth MacKenzie's The English Parliament, published by Penguin Books and also from In Search of Light: The Broadcasts of Edward R. Murrow, March 10, 1946, published by DaCapo Press.

Contributed and read by John McKay, an attorney, and wannabe poet and playwright. John has represented journalists and others in Alaska on First Amendment, free press and copyright issues for over 30 years, and recently came across Murrow's quote in a book on his shelf from research he was doing in the '80s for a suit to require the state legislature to conduct its business openly. He likes The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press as a source for information on open government.

At the close of World War II, American journalist Edward R. Murrow made this timeless observation in his March 1946 farewell address to England over the BBC:

"I doubt that the most important thing was Dunkirk or the Battle of Britain, El Alamein or Stalingrad, [perhaps] not even the landings in Normandy or the great blows struck by British and American bombers. Historians may decide that any one of these events was decisive, but I am persuaded that the most important thing that happened in Britain was that this nation chose to win or lose this war under the established rules of parliamentary procedure. It feared Nazism, but did not choose to imitate it. The government was given dictatorial power, but it was used with restraint, and the House of Commons was ever vigilant.

... remember that while London was being bombed in the daylight, the House of Commons devoted two days to discussing conditions under which enemy aliens were detained on the Isle of Man. Though Britain fell, there were to be no concentration camps here. ... [T]here was no retreat from the principles for which our ancestors fought."



Letter from Sigmund Freud: Wayne Mergler

Excerpted from a letter of May 10, 1925 from Sigmund Freud to Lou Andreas-Salomé in The International Psycho-Analytical Library.

Contributed by Art Bronstein of Boulder, Colorado. Read by Wayne Mergler, a retired English teacher, writer, and former columnist of the Anchorage Daily News. Wayne has lived in Alaska for forty years. His favorite website (at least one he can tell you about) is www.imdb.com (the Internet Movie Database).

In 1925, Sigmund Freud wrote this in a letter to Lou Andreas-Salomé.

"Dearest Lou,

First of all let me thank your dear old man for the kind lines he wrote to me, a stranger. May he keep going as long as he himself wants to!

As for me, I no longer want to ardently enough. A crust of indifference is slowly creeping up around me; a fact I state without complaining. It is a natural development, a way of beginning to grow inorganic. The ‘detachment of old age,' I think it is called. It must be connected with a decisive turn in the relationship of the two instincts postulated by me. The change taking place is perhaps not very noticeable; everything is as interesting as it was before, neither are the ingredients very different; but some kind of resonance is lacking; unmusical as I am, I imagine the difference to be something like using the [piano] pedal or not."