I just returned from a fabulous month in Australia where I was regaled by wonders, both natural and human. From the rainforests to the Red Center and Great Barrier Reef, the scenery was spectacular and the people friendly, receptive and kind.

We arrived back in the States in L.A. where we cleared Customs and then went to a domestic terminal for our flight home. Going through security, they confiscated all my wife’s liquid makeup, sealed medicine, sprays and water bottle, citing new regulations since the London airport scare.

I picked up the morning newspaper, the first one I’d read since being away, where I read that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld thinks critics of the United States war strategy in Iraq demonstrate a “new type of fascism.” He said those of us who believe the war in Iraq is a disaster are aiding the enemy. We are the same weaklings who appeased Adolf Hitler before World War II, and we are suffering “moral or intellectual confusion.”

Rumsfeld wants the American people to believe that if you’re against this war, you are the enemy. The Bush Administration, which in its purported pursuit of freedom and spreading of democracy, has created a world of escalating sectarian violence and expanding nuclear nations. An Administration whose go-it-alone bravado has created an all-time low in the world credibility, and Rumsfeld wants to portray dissenters as morally and intellectually confused fascists.

I was on the plane coming home and feeling so disgusted I wished it would turn around and go back to Australia (or maybe New Zealand, an uninhabited atoll in Micronesia). But here I am an American patriot who is blessed to be able to labor on this day and to see that the best way to protect this great country is to see that he goes and not me.

In the meantime, I have finally summoned the courage to cancel the morning paper. If I’m not going back to Australia, I can at least import the wonder of starting every day with a prayerful meditation, then morning coffee with a book of poetry, Anne Lamott, Allen Klein or George Carlin. Then I’ll hum on my new digeradoo, and it’ll help me start my day with joy.

Just when I think all hope is lost, something surprises me and a spark is kindled. My grandson wants to kick my butt in a basketball game and I tell him that day may come but it’s not today. You can’t eliminate grief, you can just play more basketball.