Today is another glorious day of sunny, post summer – pre fall weather to be fully enjoyed knowing what lies ahead. I wanted to think only positive thoughts as I prepared to write my blog. I sought a mental state to match the magic of the day.
My mind was not prepared to cooperate. News reports on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the president’s recent speech on that topic, kept invading my mind. Questions pounded my thoughts about what we could or should believe based on public reporting of events. Does US intelligence really know if there are 10,000 or 30,000 ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq? Why the huge difference between these two figures both reported within the last few weeks? Are one half of those number foreign recruits? Why did we summarily force leaders of Saddam Hussein’s army into oblivion, with no way to support their families, only to have them turn up years later as fighters under the ISIS flag? We shared intelligence with Iran to oust the Taliban in Afghanistan until 2002. Iran was a state sponsor of terrorism then and we worked with them. We reject them today saying they are state sponsors of terrorism? A government spokesperson last week stated there is no military or intelligence cooperation between the US and Iran regarding ISIS, but that the US is “open to engaging the Iranians.” Are we still about word games rather than substance?
I fought to change the direction my mind was wondering. My spirit rebounded from this dark world as I thought of the life in our North End Community of Boston and the season of religious feasts this year which were outstanding. Week after week the ceremonies, the parades, the participation of the residents eagerly awaiting the saint on their street, and the unrestrained joy of the children all demonstrated the vibrant life in our community. We enjoyed photo, video, and print coverage of all the events thanks to www.northendwaterfront.com and other community media.
What about the future of the feasts some ask? Where is our neighborhood going? I say look at all the young men and women who participated this year with the veterans of many feasts carrying the saint, marching the neighborhood, holding the ribbons, sitting the vigils, and performing all the required duties both in public and behind the scenes. Adding their youth and vigor to that of the feast elders insures the future of the feasts. We need to thank everyone responsible for the feasts which annually remind us of our history as a community, our religious life, our ability to enjoy a life not subject to attack by murderous bullies. Promoting a positive community life for all, offering encouragement or help to those in need, these are pillars that support our village.
James Ring is a former FBI agent and longtime resident of Boston’s North End. He is also author of the book “Necessary Assets,” an inspired fictional story of an Al Qaeda terror plot that brings forth an unusual alliance between a modernized Sicilian Mafia and a retired FBI agent who lives in the North End. Jim blogs regularly at JamesRing.com.