I wanted to wish all my readers a happy and safe holidays: Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Joyeux Noel, Happy Kwanza, Happy Solstice, Eid al-Adha, Muharram, Happy New Year and Bonne Annee. If I missed one or two greetings, I apologize and offer you my best wishes of the season.
This time of the year is also when we tend to reflect a little more on our loved ones--present and not. My own mom and brother passed away this year, soon after my dad died, just a year before. My good friend Janos Novomezsky was killed by a drunk driver near Budapest late last year trying to help out an injured dog hit by another drunk driver (please drink and drive responsibly). I miss them all (and many other friends and relatives who have died), and I wish they were here to share these holidays. But I also think we need to focus on the love of those still in our lives, so I wish you a season of unselfish love, affection and caring--for those around you and those with whom we all share the world.
Don't worry about that annoying relative (or relatives), the decorations, the holiday dinner, or all those gifts and presents. Focus on what is really important and you will make it through the holidays a lot more stress-free. Our family now gives only one modest present (a "grab-bag" that is selected at random) to the adults. Instead we encourage each other to give to charity what would only be spent on presents to be returned in a department store later. Just an idea. And, if it is too late this year, you can always discuss it now, so that you can implement it next holiday season.
In this time of giving, please do not forget those less fortunate than you. We have had a year of disasters, continued terrorism, hooliganism and war, with all the many victims of these events in need of our help. Please use this opportunity to perhaps change your family's emphasis on consumerism to one of charity for others. Whether it be for the victims of the tsunami, hurricane Katrina, the Pakistani earthquake, the Iraq or Palestinian conflicts, the various African civil wars, AIDS and other diseases, or any of the other horrors visited upon the world's poor, we should find a place in our hearts (and our wallets) this season and next year for our fellow brothers and sisters.
National, religious and political affiliations aside, we need to find ways of coming together rather than resolving our differences with conflict. That approach always hurts the poor, the defenseless, the elderly and the very young. Ignorance and fanaticism have no place in a world where generosity, affection, inclusion and education govern our decisions and relations. After all, isn't this how we would and should react to members of our own family in need? And shouldn't all those who need our help be included in our extended family? We should be using our political vote and clout, pledging our personal support, time and money, and demanding accountability from our leaders, institutions and politicians--wherever in the world we are. We must stop squandering our resources on graft, greed, animosity, war and civil strife. And we should demand that our governments do the same.
Just one example: what if the American government had chosen to spend $300 billion (currently the cost to date of the Iraq War, excluding the more important cost of American and Iraqi lives) to resolve the Palestinian issue? Could we have developed a long-term counter to all the fanaticism that feeds on poverty and miseducation in this area of the world? How would that have changed the dynamics and the way America is viewed in the world? The problem, of course, was getting the Congress to approve of such aid. War seems to get approval all too easily and poverty abatement and education all too slowly. We need to change those kinds of decisions by our public support or lack thereof of the issues and the politicians who support them. I don't propose to have all the answers to world peace, but it would seem to me that such a massive reallocation of resources tied to results might have brought (and still may bring) about a more positive world.
By the way, this also applies to the rest of the world as well, so please don't sit there smugly if you are somewhere else in the world. Your politicians and institutions also need to be accountable for their actions (or non-action), and encouraged to make the world a better place. You too need to make a direct contribution to the poor, needy and defenseless.
Instead of focusing on the past, we must all work on what we can do individually and collectively in the future. I apologize for being so "preachy", but this time of year seems to do that to me. I just hope we can all maintain that sense of brotherly love for the entire year.
I want to wish all my readers and clients the very best holidays and New Year ever. Thank you for your kind patience with this writer this past year.
Thanks for your newsletter and wonderful comments. Being PEACEY is a good thing. We greatly appreciate your commentary and find it adds to the joy and happiness in all of our lives. What we need is more people thinking like you and we can have a more peaceful world. Best holiday wishes.
Peace and Love,
Louis Klaitman & Supannika Rongsopa
Thank you so much for your Christmas letter. It is so true and moving. I'll immediately forward it (including the copyright notice) to some friends of mine. I'm sure they need it. I absolutely admire your sense of hope, which I think is not a strategy to live better, but a real act of courage.
Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo from Italy,
Thank you for your thought provoking holiday newsletter edition. A fitting number 99! I appreciate your thoughts, and of course agree with them--especially those about spending war monies on peace and good will efforts. In fact, for years I've said the US government should purchase just one less jet fighter each year and redirect that money to education and homelessness in our country.
Anyway, enough preaching. Hope you have a wonderful holiday season, Alex, despite the sadnesses of your past year. And I wish you all the best in 2006! I much appreciate our professional relationship and your friendship.
All the best,
Dear Alex, I hope you have a Merry Christmas and are surrounded by people in love.
Zalig en een Gelukkig Kerstfeest from Belgium,
I wish you a "Very Merry Christmas", Alex. This newsletter was very touching. Stay warm and have a wonderful New Year. Thank you for your newsletters and keeping us informed as well as sharing the joys of collecting photography with us. Your informative words are always very much appreciated.
Alex, I just want to tell you how much I enjoyed your commentary in the
I Photo Central holiday newsletter and bravo to you for taking the opportunity
to comment on the world situation…I thought your comments were very
insightful, very thoughtful, and oh, so very true--if only we could make
Congress work the way you so beautifully proposed.
Best wishes to you and yours for 2006, and thank you for sharing your
knowledge of photography and the marketplace all year 'round.
Ms. Sam Katz
What a nice message in the e-photo newsletter. Alex, thank you. Merry Christmas!
Happy New Year!
Alex, thank you so much for the heartfelt greeting on the eve of Christmas. Your honest and direct emotional message is well received. Also thank you for the newsletter, which serves to keep those of us on the fringe of collecting informed as to the current state of fine art photography. Best wishes to you and your loved ones during this holiday season.
Scott B. Weber
Alex, thank you for the service you provide and the insightful holiday message in the current newsletter. Imagine if peace could be made as profitable as war, what a wonderful world it could be. Funny how simple it seems. Simplicity is often the hardest concept to grasp. Thanks again.
Peter J. Crowley
Alex, thank you for that very thoughtful and appropriate message. We do tend to forget that we have enough and others do not.
Have a great holiday and a wonderful 2006, during which I will try to remember your message.
Hi, Alex. I thought your message very timely and beautifully stated. I hope you are well, and wish you a wonderful and peaceful holiday season.
Thank you for your thoughtful newsletter. Remember that President Bush wanted to be remembered as the "Education President". If he were spending $80 billion a year to rebuild every elementary school in America, I would have thought him a great man.
The key is to compare and contrast Dick Cheney with Gandhi. Which man would you stand next to in an eternal life?
Thanks, Alex. I enjoy the newsletter and enjoyed your year-end thoughts.
Alex, what a warm and wonderful Christmas holiday greeting. Karen and I could not agree with you more on how the holidays should be celebrated. It nice to know that we have made a new friend this year: YOU!!!
Dear Alex, I really enjoyed your lovely letter. My sentiments exactly! Good of you
mate! Well done!
With warm wishes,
Dear Alex, I appreciate the touching and compelling expression of your sentiments, which I hardily agree with.
Happy holidays to you, and let's hope that more of what you put forcefully into words comes, before too long, to obtain in the world as well.
All the best,
Dear Alex, thanks for all the thoughts...and good advice...Holiday greetings to you!
Alex, best of the Seasons Greetings. I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the article you wrote in the newsletter which was very kindly forwarded on to me. For some reason, I no longer seem to get it. It seems a pity that the article is not able to reach more people, as I know there are many out there in the world that share your views. I meet them on my travels all the time. These people come from so many different backgrounds, races, creeds and colours, yet all share the same view.
I will look forward to reading your next newsletter.
With the best of wishes for the coming New Year, and thank you.
I enjoy your Newsletter, and you certainly qualify for the first prize in "multicultural greetings"!
George Bush would not have gotten into trouble with his fundamentalist followers (for not using the word "Christmas") if he had copied a few lines from you.
Best wishes for 2006 and many good photographs...
Hi, Alex. Thanks for the thoughts. Well said. All the best to you. See you
Alex, well said!
Alex, well said. I couldn't agree with you more.
All the best,
Hello, Mr. Novak. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your online newsletter. It's really great! Your newsletters and comments are always greatly appreciated!
Happy New Year!
Dear Alex, Bonne année! Et tout le bonheur du monde for you. Thank you for your inspiring last newsletter.
I didn't get around to reading it until now--but I really appreciate it and agree with your "preaching." As TR would say, "Bully!!!!!"
Hi Alex, just read your Christmas newsletter. Well done! I share your sentiments. Happy new year!