Open letter to Politicians and Their Fundraisers:
For the past two years, I have been at work writing my memoir, The Fourth Moment, during which time my email inbox has been inundated with hyperbolic, bogus, unscientific surveys and the inevitable request for money. We need you! Please donate! Respond to Senator ______’s (fill in the blank) request. Please donate! Send a message to . . . Please donate! Would you vote for . . .? Please donate. Fight gerrymandering. Protect entitlements. Rid the planet of “the other party.” Please, we beg you, please donate. Continue reading “WE NEED YOU!”
WHEN GIVEN TWO CHOICES, I ALWAYS GO FOR THE THIRD. I doubt that I’m the first to say that, nor do I want to suggest that other people haven’t been pondering the consequences of our dichotomous thinking in the US: like-dislike, friend-unfriend, win-lose, us-them, right-wrong, prochoice-prolife, Republican-Democrat, to name a few. We set up our communication software, social media, political parties, political surveys, and sound bites to force choices or, more to the point, deny choice. Just today I received a survey that asked if I supported the president. My choices were yes or no, lock him up. No place for comment, no place for nuance, no place for a reasoned answer. I either had to support the president, or support putting him in prison! What does that even mean? I’m sure the “other side” sends out surveys just as meaningless about Secretary Clinton. Continue reading “Binary Choices”
This time of year is not just the pinnacle of the silly season as well as the abandonment of healthy eating, financial irresponsibility, and magical thinking of all kinds. It is also the season of Hail Marys, which are the last-ditch attempts of students to avoid academic reckoning. Students who failed to turn in assignments on time, or not at all, then plead with you to turn their low C into a B, or even an A. Sometimes they even want a D or an F to become a C or a B. Their excuses run from possibly penitent “I’m sorrys” to wild tales of terrible human tragedies that no one apprised you of when they were supposedly occurring. Continue reading “Another Semester, Another Chance to be Awesome”
The subjectification of women, which subsumes sexual exploitation, has existed since humans walked the planet and played the roles that biology and physiology demanded in a brutal physical and uninformed environment. In America, sexism is deeply embedded in our psyche. According to Kurt Anderson in his recent book, Fantasyland, the Puritans tried (thankfully unsuccessfully) to force women to wear veils. Ironic isn’t it that current Americans are terrified of the hijab, the Muslim woman’s headscarf. Owners saw human slaves as property, female slaves as sexual instruments for their pleasure. Men took babies from their mother’s arms and sold them. For decades, men had legal license to beat their wives and take away their personal belongings if their wife dared to leave the marriage bed.Continue reading “Hijabs, Sexism and More #me too”
Open letter to Senator Franken
Dear Senator Franken,
I respect your resignation, and your attempt to not only do what is right – but to begin the road back to regaining the public trust for you and your party. I don’t think at this moment we can distinguish between what is “unacceptable behavior” and what is a sexual predator. You are not a sexual predator. You are a typical guy (in the least complementary sense) of your generation, but given your public profile, there simply is no place to hide from the tsunami of overdue reckoning flooding the western world at this time.
I hope you come through this a stronger, wiser man. I hope our country comes through this crucible a stronger and more equal society.
You need to be held to account, others need to be held to account! Hopefully your acceptance of your fate will make it possible for us to hold others, whose behavior is clearly more egregious, to account.
Nuclear war, sexual predators, drugs, racism, police brutality,sex abuse and incest, political scandal, gun violence, ethnic cleansing, organized crime, international money laundering, economic balkanization and inequality—all have been headlines in the past. We’ve had presidential scandals and inept politicians before, but during those crises we also had leaders, statesmen, and rational thinkers! We had the political will to call our better natures to task. We believed in critical thinking, in negotiation, in compromise, and in hope.Continue reading “News Headlines and T-shirts”
As I drove down the highway toward Moorhead, Kentucky, on a recent sunny afternoon, past the turning fall leaves and familiar limestone rock formations to meet a friend for lunch, I listened to “The Takeaway” on National Public Radio. According to the host, a new survey reported that fifty-five percent of white Americans believe they have been discriminated against because of their race. Of those fifty-five percent, the majority were white males. The experiences recorded for the show were mostly those of men who had lost out on jobs with consent decrees for affirmative action hiring. This had happened to me, too.Continue reading “Affirmative Action”
1997: “I’d prefer one of the girls. I’ve raised two of my own,” I said.
“Why don’t you adopt Tevi?” Violy, the director of the orphanage, asked.
“Tevi doesn’t like me.”
She shrugged her narrow shoulders and replied, “Tevi doesn’t like anyone.”
I was in my mid-fifties when I adopted a severely malnourished six-year-old from an orphanage in Cambodia. She was about the age my grandchildren would have been had my other two daughters started their families earlier in their marriages. Now Tevi has a daughter of her own and is expecting a baby boy in a few months.Continue reading “Adopting Late in Life”
Mark Twain famously pronounced that you couldn’t write an honest memoir if it would be published before you died. Having written a memoir, I believe he was mostly right. The collection of short stories that make up The Fourth Moment is true only to my memory of dozens of big and small life events. It is part catharsis, part storytelling, and part instruction. A very few stories lack the details that would have indicted others in my confessions. So, although cold stone factual recounting is not to be found in my book, my biggest fear was being critiqued or denigrated while I’m still around.Continue reading “Thanksgiving is Not Just for Turkeys”
I arrived down the narrow cobblestone street to my severely turquoise hotel after a thirty-five minute ride through every alleyway, construction site, and shortcut from the airport in Istanbul, a city of seventeen million–everyone driving right then! Entering the Kybele (first goddess) Hotel was entering a different era—dozens of bright-colored glass lamps hung from every ceiling. The hotel was comprised of three townhouses attached together and filled to overflowing with antique furniture that sat helter-skelter on multi-patterned Turkish rugs. Continue reading “Not Just Turkey”