As I get older, I feel God nearer. I see Him everywhere - in a blade of grass, the leaves of trees, the tumbling clouds in the sky. I smell Him in the odor of the beautifully shaped rose in my garden. I feel Him in the drops of rain that fall from above. I hear Him in the roaring thunder and I catch glimpses of Him in the far off strike of lightening.
While I am sleeping, He talks to me. He laughs. Yes, God has a sense of humor. He finds it funny that man expends such an effort in an attempt to explore the far off planets in the universe, but they are incapable of handing their own bit of space that He has given them. He is ready to share secrets with us when we learn to abolish the barbaric acts of war and cease to kill one another. He waits for us to stop the suicidal attempts to develop atomic power and destroy the little bit of earth that He has given us.
God waits for us to learn that religion is not worshipping God. God, whatever form he takes, is omnipotent and omniscient. He has no need for adoration. He waits for us to learn that religion is caring for your fellow man. He waits for the rich to take care of the poor. He waits for a beggar to help another beggar who is less fortunate. He waits. He has time - endless time.
When President Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country," he uttered the words that his brothers followed and inspired the country. It inspired my wife and me to become Goodwill Ambassadors and visit 40 countries.
Teddy Kennedy spent 46 years of his life following the example that his brother expressed. As a Senator he played a major role in passing laws that helped people: cancer research, disability discrimination, AIDS care, civil rights, mental health benefits, children's health insurance and education. At the time of his death his main focus was universal health care.
I was lucky enough to be at an informal dinner at the White House. Everyone had to sing or dance. I will always remember with a smile the three Kennedy brothers singing a camp song that they sung when they were kids.
Teddy Kennedy will be missed, but what he has done for our country will never be forgotten.
I have made almost 90 movies. In each I would portray another character, not myself. Millions of people all over the world reacted to my portrayals. Some liked it, some didn't. Although I must admit a little part of me might have crawled into some of my portrayals.
I like MySpace. I like it because it gives me the opportunity to be myself. I like it so much more because people respond. They don't have to agree with me but at least we can talk to each other.
I was amazed by the responses to my last few blogs. I read all of them, it took me a long time. I learned that sometimes when you're talking to a person that you don't know you can be more honest. I like talking to my uknown friends of all ages. Please keep reading so that I can continue.
I was a very poor boy - food was a problem. One day, I was about 12 years old, I passed a fruit stand on the street - it had beautiful, big, ripe, tomatoes. I love tomatoes. I walked past a shiny tomato and stopped. No one was looking - I stole a big, juicy, tomoato. Suddenly a hand grabbed me, "What are you doing boy?" A tall man looked down at me, "Did you steal that tomato?"
I didn't know how to answer so I said, "But it was only one tomato."
"Listen boy, that tomato doesn't belong to you, it belongs to that old man who runs this stand, " he pointed to an old man slightly bent over, "he has to pay for this tomato and he's hoping to sell it and make a small profit for himself and his family."
I didn't know how to answer, I just stood there petrified.
"Put the tomato back!" He commanded, and I obeyed.
"Did you ever hear about the Ten Commandments?"
"Yes," I answered timidly.
"You know what the Eighth Commandment is?"
I looked at him blankly.
"Do not steal! It's a crime to steal and you will be punished."
"Do you understand?"
"Yes, yes." I started to cry.
"Do you realize that you can be put in jail for stealing?"
Tears were now streaming down my cheeks.
"No, I'm not going to have you arrested, but never steal again."
And I didn't.
When I read the newspapers I think that most of those executives on Wall Street have never been caught stealing a tomato. They never learned that it is a sin to steal. So, they set a bad example for other people. People are stealing in so many countries. When we learn that it is a sin to steal anything - even a tomato - we will have a better world.
The Ten Commandments say, "Thou shall not steal." We all should obey.
9/11 is a terrible memory. It brought on a war and our young soldiers - boys and girls were sent off to fight. That is not the only tragedy that awaits them. Our government is now concerned with the emotional health of our soldiers. They are alarmed by the increasing numbers of members of our armed forces who have committed suicide. In spite of all the preparation the soldiers go through, warfare is a unique emotional experience.
I enlisted in the Navy during World War II. I attended midshipman's school at Notre Dame University. As a young communications officer, I was on a small aircraft (5 officers, 75 men). In the Pacific, our assignment was looking for Japanese submarines. It bothered me to imagine young Japanese sailors deep in the ocean crowded on a submarine. They were looking to kill us, we were looking to kill them. I wondered if they felt any of the reluctance that I felt. My consolation was that I was better off than an army soldier having personal contact with the enemy. But it's a strange experience from the war that still haunts me.
It was a sunny day in calm Pacific waters. Everything was quiet except for the constant ping, ping, ping of our underwater radar device searching for submarines. If an echo came back, bouncing off of a submarine, we would try to lower explosives and destroy the submarine and all the young Japanese sailors. That was not a pleasant thought for me.
Our young captain decided to relieve the boredom of the day with gunnery practice. The command came to man the machine guns - the targets were the graceful swooping gulls circling our vessel. The shooting began and the graceful gulls alluded the bullets flying at them. But, suddenly, one gull, wings outstretched, was hit. All I saw were two lifeless wings slowly falling down into the sea. That terrible vision has never left me.
Of course, the final cure would be to abolish war. But since it is not an option, it is encouraging to me to realize that we are now trying to cope with the emotional problems of our soldiers. And encourage them to speak openly
I am still disturbed by the outcry of people who resented the president talking to students. Almost every president has talked to students, encouraging them to study and work hard and get an education. How can anyone imagine a president, any president of our country, would try to do anything else?
What does a young boy or a young girl think when they hear their parents saying they should not go to school that day? They should not listen to the president? I think that is more than a crime, it is a sin.
How do young people react when they hear a member of Congress yelling at the president of the United States, "You lie!" It has nothing to do with being a republican, a democrat or an independent. Everyone should be respectful of the head of our country.
If you teach your children not to respect the president, what does that bode for the future?
We had a woman friend stay for the weekend at our house in Montecito. When she left I saw a pillow on the bed. I asked my wife, "What's that?"
"Oh," Anne said, "she forgot her baby pillow."
I said, "What's that? The guest is a grown up person."
"Well," she said, "lots of people have a pillow that they always use in bed when they're sleeping."
How odd, I thought. When my wife Anne returned the pillow, she told the friend that I had never heard of baby pillows.
The next week I received a box containing a little pillow embroidered with a choo-choo train carrying animals. This was my baby pillow. I laughed but then I put it in the bed when I went to sleep. Now, I find, I like it and it's always with me.
Am I going crazy?
When I told my assistant Grace this story she laughed and said, "I don't have a baby pillow but I have a teddy bear that sleeps next to me in a Kleenex box. My mother made him a plaid suit and I think that helps him sleep better."
Not long ago the Jewish people celebrated Rosh Hashana, the new year, 5770. Wow! That's a long time. I am not very religious, but it reminded me of an incident that happened when I was filming the movie, "In Harm's Way". I played a naval officer, a bitter flier under John Wayne's command. After raping Jill Harworth, the girlfriend of Wayne's son, played by Brandon de Wilde, I sacrificed myself on an air mission.
The most exciting thing about the production was that we got to shoot on the USS St. Paul, a cruiser, as it sailed from Seattle to Hawaii. And there was Otto Preminger, the director, treating the personnel like his own personal crew, the boat like a prop, yelling to the captain, in his German accent, "Push the boat the other vey, so ve get the sunlight!"
I shared a bunk with one of the officers, Josh Nelson, who I was surprised to learn was Jewish. I never think of naval officers as being Jewish, maybe because I didn't know any others when I was one. I asked Josh if many of the crew were Jewish.
He said, "A few."
I said, "Do you ever hold religious services?"
"I tried to, but it's hard to get them interested enough."
"Suppose I conduct the religious service?"
"would you? Could you?"
"Yes," I said, "Why don't you tell your friends that tomorrow, Friday night, I'll conduct the service."
That Friday evening, we were all dining at the captain's table - John Wayne, Burgess Meredith, and of course Otto Preminger - when over the loudspeakers:
NOW HEAR THIS MEN, AT 20:00 THERE WILL BE FRIDAY EVENING JEWISH RELIGIOUS SERVICE CONDUCTED BY KIRK DOUGLAS.
Well, this caused a little ripple. Heads everywhere bobbed. And I, very dignified and nonchalant, stood up and said, "Would you excuse me, Captain? I have to officiate at this service." John Wayne and Burgess Meredith, curious, came over later. Otto Preminger, a Jew, didn't. In a borrowed yarmulke and prayer shawl, I conducted the Friday evening service, remembering the old Hebrew prayers that I learned when I was a poor boy living in Amsterdam, when the people in my synagogue wanted little Issur to become a rabbi, and I didn't know how to tell them I wanted to be an actor. That night on the USS St. Paul was the fulfillment of my debt to them.
I don't think it matters what religion you follow as long as your faith tells you to care for others.