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How to turn a negative into a positive

A new day for Iraq and her people

How can you not get choked up, listening to Iraqi nationals talk about how happy they are to vote, to cast ballots, the way a free country does???

One Hind Abrahim of Alexandria, VA was very animated when she said, "You know when you love somebody so much and it's gone for a long time and then you see them again - we feel like we got it back and Iraq
is our love!" And for Hazim Oraha of Detroit, his joy more self-contained but at the same time undeniable: "we are the happiest people in the world - because this is the FIRST time we feel real - we are free!"

It's one thing to read their words here on the electronic page, but to actually see these people and their unrestrained joy over reclaiming their country, their home... it's about the best Valentine's Day gift anyone could ask for, I think. It makes all those people whose lives were lost, both military and civilian, more heroic, and certainly justified.

I sincerely hope the whole world sits back and takes a long hard look at how valuable and how important this election is for the Iraqi people. And THEN I hope the world takes a moment to ponder *WHO* put the wheels into motion that made this day possible: George W. Bush and his esteemed Cabinet members. Despite the harsh criticism, despite staunch opposition, Mr. Bush stuck to the goal and to his promise to everyone involved in this war: to liberate Iraqis from Hussein, to liberate them from their past, and to give them a serious leg up on a more promising future.

It makes me proud, proud, proud to say I voted for Mr. Bush, not just in this last election but for his first term as President, too! I am so glad to throw my support behind someone who feels as strongly about sticking to the convictions of his heart as I do! I too, suffered the slings and arrows of being someone who supports W., and I won't lie, there have been moments when I wondered if he was going to drop the ball. So far, I've got no complaints.

And provided tomorrow goes off with as few hitches as possible, all of Bush's detractors are going to look really silly and foolish. They're going to look like the spoiled brats they are: sucking their collective thumb, banging their heels into the floor, whining and crying like little babies who don't get their way. People will say: "President Bush, his Cabinet, and supporters of the U.S. actually did what most other government leaders were merely only content to sit around and talk about. And while they talked and criticized and complained, and did their best to try to hold him back, Mr. Bush went forward, not for selfish reasons but for the right reasons: for the liberation of a country bound too long by a tyranny that betrayed the beating heart of it's people, betrayed and tried to snuff it. Indeed, not only did Mr. Bush do the right thing, he took the unimaginable terror of the 9/11 attacks of 2001 and turned it into a quest for peace for Iraq, and thereby made an example of what true leadership is really about! And with this historic day for Iraq, he is sending a clearer message to terrorists than a globe full of armies could: terrorism will not be tolerated in a free world!"

Of course I realize I'm jumping the gun a bit here; the real test will be about 11 1/2 hours from now, halfway around the world, when those polls open to the Iraqi voters. It's not going to be perfect, but I don't think anyone will argue it is definitely a step in the right direction, not just for Iraqis but for the whole entire world.

Tsunami Relief Goals Met

It's official: the Red Cross has reached it's goals for helping with the recovery from the tsunami! In a short month, the Red Cross has collected enough money to last the five years estimated it will take to put the tsunami ravaged areas back to normal!! That's amazing!! The Red Cross is now asking that future donations *NOT* be designated specifically to the tsunami disaster relief effort, so that money collected now can be put to use for future disasters and local efforts.

That is something to celebrate! And yet another example of something good coming out of something so horribly devastating: yes, the tsunami took lives in numbers our human minds cannot grasp, but it also showed how deep our pockets are, how generous our hearts are in reaching out to help people halfway around the world in the other direction in their time of need. We turned a terrible, terrible 'negative' into an incredible positive. This story alone restores my hope in the human spirit. Hopefully, this news won't make us complacent now. Including me. Hopefully, people who donated won't get amnesia as time goes by, and will try to keep a candle lit in their hearts and minds always, toward any people suffering from a disaster.

The ravaged face of depression

I have a word to say about the gentleman who caused the train wreck in California this past week. Juan Alvarez drove his SUV onto the train tracks in an attempt to commit suicide, and at the last moment changed his mind and jumped out of his car to safety. Unfortunately, the move was a deadly one for 11 people on board the train that derailed because his car was where it wasn't supposed to be.

Any time a person changes their mind about committing suicide that is cause for celebration. Not at the expense of 11 people and their families; nosiree. I'm not saying you should avoid suicide "at any cost" -- I am saying you should, avoid suicide, and the best way to do that is to get treatment, because the thing that makes many, many people suicidal is a chemical imbalance. And quite frankly, we live in a day and age where there's no excuse not to get treatment for it, because the drugs have been around for a while and have been developed to the point where there are next to no side effects.

I'd say the defense has a serious case on their hands. And if we look more closely, so do people suffering from depression, because the families of those people who died in that train that day are going to want to know, could this have been prevented, and if so, how do we avoid this from happening in the future? The answer: make help for people suffering with depression more accessible, more affordable. Period. End of story.

I feel terrible for Mr. Alvarez. Whenever I think about him I wonder if he's doing okay. He is not a homicidal maniac. He is just a regular, ordinary guy (I hope; guess we'll find out as he goes to trial) whose chemical imbalance put him in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was not looking for fame or glory. He was scared, lonely, despairing, devoid of hope. I know how he feels; I suffered from depression for 11 years too long, and the only reason I got help is because I finally got a job with an insurance package that made getting help affordable for me. And as it is, I owe over $500 in doctor bills from that time I spent in the psychiatric hospital, but I wouldn't change a thing if I had it to do all over again.

No, I take that back: if I had it to do all over again, the thing I would change is I would have gotten help a lot sooner than I did!

So hopefully this is one negative that will have a positive outcome too. I pray for it with all my heart.

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