KQED Perspective to air week of October 1

September 11, 2001

In the spring of 1945 a large international contingent from 50 countries was meeting in San Francisco. This group was gathered in the dark shadows of a world gone mad. They were charged with creating an organization that would help prevent a repeat of the most horrific human catastrophe in the history of the world. There needed to be a forum where nations could have dialogue, where the weak would have a voice and the strong could not impose their will on others with impunity. This so-called United Nations would create standards of behavior that all countries would agree to adhere to.

Just before the Conference at San Francisco began word came to the delegates that one of the giants among men; a true hero of these ominous times had died. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had succumbed to a cerebral hemorrhage. Grief swept the nation and the world and the Conference searched for a fitting place of tribute. They found it just north of San Francisco in an ancient grove of redwoods in Muir Woods National Monument.

In a group of trees fittingly named the Cathedral Grove hundreds of men and women gathered to pay tribute and to honor a man who had done so much for ending global conflict and creating peace.

It is fitting that we turn to nature in times in times of pain and uncertainty. There is such solace in sitting still surrounded by beings like redwoods that have witnessed a thousand sunrises. There is some kind of immutable truth and profound peace found in the filtered light through a primeval forest. At least God must exist in a place like this. The horrors of what men can do to other men create open psychic wounds in us which nature can briefly soothe.

So go alone or with others into the quiet of nature and breath deeply in the breath of the earth, the scent of a billion years. Be silent and pray that the organization sprung from the spilled blood of millions will help the United States find justice, not just wreak revenge.

This is Michael Ellis with a Perspective.

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August 4, 2009