Category Archives: Peace

How Be a Friend

It’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day. And so, of course, Putin’s President, with the irony born of someone without a soul or a keen eye for history, chose today of all days to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

Naturally, that means anybody who “looks” Muslim will become even more of a target than they have been since Trump took us all down the gold escalator into hell.  It is now open season on “others” here in our nation of immigrants.

So what can we do about it?

I will admit that the safety pin movement left me feeling decidedly unhelpful.  It’s a nice thought, but it never made me feel like I was actually standing up for anyone.  Or like I was doing something to help people being targeted.

But a while back I saw this article that offered some practical suggestions that have some meat on the bones.  Really!  Click on the link.  Cause I’m not going to tell you everything it says.

Anyway, I like to think that I would be the kind of person who would stand up in any situation to protect those in need.  But frankly,  I’m overweight, slow moving, and cowardly.  They don’t make superheroes who look or act like me.  So the odds are NOT in my favor.  Besides, when something happens around me, I never have a clue what’s happening.  I generally stand there, looking around, confused.  Immobile.  Saying “WTF” with my mouth hanging open.  Quick witted I may be with words, but actions?  Not so much.

But the Vox article showed me a way to help when someone is being verbally assaulted, in situations where I am most likely to see it happen.  It’s brilliant.  And relatively safe.  Win-win.

Here’s an example.  Say you’re in Target, passing by the children’s section, when you hear a man harassing a woman in a hijab.  He’s big and burly, and you want to help. You also don’t want him to target you.  Still, you can’t just walk away, turn a blind eye.  You’re a good person!  You wouldn’t be able to look yourself in the mirror if you didn’t help.  But how?

Why, act like an idiot, of course.  Me, I’m a natural!  At acting the idiot, that is.  Not being one.  That’s the role of the racist.

You interrupt the jerk.  Wander in between him and his victim as if you’re looking for something, and can’t quite find it.  Request his help.  Be totally oblivious.  Give the poor target the opportunity to get away.  Think Roseann Rosanna Dana.

roseann-roseanna-dana

Gilda Radner as Roseann Rosanna Dana.

Or, in an equally ditzy way, pretend to be the friend/shopping buddy of the woman being mistreated, and in an oblivious way whisk that woman out of the children’s department and into the table linens.

“Sylvia!” said in the most nasal tone imaginable, “THERE you are.  You were supposed to meet me in the shoe department … you come with me right now before they’re out of the size 7s…”

Read the article.  Learn steps you can take to help folks who may really need your help.  Because it’s a Brave New World out there.  And it helps to be prepared.

Today of all days, it’s important to recall these words, from the U.S. Holocaust Museum:

The Holocaust did not begin with killing; it began with words. The Museum calls on all American citizens, our religious and civic leaders, and the leadership of all branches of the government to confront racist thinking and divisive hateful speech.

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The Beast

Lemme get this straight.

duncan-christmas-2016

Photo Credit:  Jacob

A big fat guy in a red suit

will come down the chimney,

And I’m Supposed to Let Him In?

HO, HO, HO!

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Home For Christmas Again

She told the story every year with a warm smile on her face.  Sometimes her eyes got a little bit misty.

“It was 1943, and the War was on, and your father was in the Navy, on a ship somewhere in the Pacific.  We never knew where he was.  Like all the other boys I knew, he was in danger every day.  We lived for the mail, we were terrified of unfamiliar visitors in uniform.  A telegram sent us into a panic.  And ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’ had just been recorded by Bing Crosby.  It was Number One on the Hit Parade.”

That’s how Mom started the story every time.

Of course I’ll Be Home For Christmas was Number One that year.  Everyone, or just about, was hoping that someone they loved would, in fact, be home for Christmas.  That all the boys would be home for good.  But all too many people were disappointed.  I doubt there were many dry eyes when that song came on the radio that year or for the next few.

Mom and Dad got engaged right around Pearl Harbor Day, but the War lengthened their courtship significantly because Dad enlisted shortly after the attack.  It was to be a long war, and a long engagement.  But Mom was in love with her handsome man.  But Dad was even more so.

Mom, Circa 1943

Mom, Circa 1943

 

My Dad was drop-dead gorgeous, and I have heard that in his single days, he was a bit of a ladies’ man.  Every girl in town, it seemed, had a crush on Dad.

Dad, Circa 1943

Dad, Circa 1943

 

In fact, my Aunt Sally once told me that she had been manning a booth at a church bizarre one Saturday in about 1995, when an elderly woman came up to talk to her.

“Are you Freddie E’s sister?” the woman asked Aunt Sal.

“Yes I am.  Do you know my brother?” Aunt Sal responded.

“I did,she sighed.  “I haven’t seen him since we graduated from high school in 1935.  Sixty years ago.  He was,” she stopped to think of just the right word, “… He was dream-my.”

“He still is,” Sally quipped.

One day not long after after Mom had passed, Dad and I were looking at some pictures I hadn’t seen before.

“Dad,” I told him with wonder looking at a particularly good shot, “You should have gone to Hollywood.  You’d have been a star.”

“Nah,” Dad said.  “Mom would never have gone with me.  And once the war was over, well, I wasn’t going anywhere else without her.”

Dad circa 1935

Dad circa 1935

Dad never quite got over feeling lucky that he had Mom.  And he never stopped loving her.

But back to Mom’s story.

“It was Christmas morning, 1943, and I went over to visit Dad’s mom and dad.  Grammy E’d had symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease for seven or eight years at that point.  She could still move around (she was later, when I knew her, almost completely paralyzed), but she could barely talk.”

Mom continued.  But your Dad’s mom was singing ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’  Well, she was trying to sing it, any how. She kept repeating that one line, over and over again.  ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’  I thought she was crazy.”

“You see,” Mom would say, “Your father had somehow managed to get Christmas leave – he was coming home!  He wanted to surprise me and wouldn’t let anyone tell me he was coming.  He was expected any minute, and there I was, trying to leave.  But I couldn’t stay.  That song made me cry; Freddie was so far away, and in so much danger.  I couldn’t bear hearing it.”

So Mom left after a while, she had other people and her own family to see.  Later Dad caught up with her and they spent most of Christmas together.  Both of them always smiled at the memory.  Dad was home for Christmas that year, just like in the song.  It was a magical year for them both.

Mom was always touched by Dad’s surprise and by his mother’s loving gesture in fighting back the paralysis that was taking over her body to try to get her son’s girl to stay.  To sing when she could barely speak.

“I’ve always wished I’d stayed.”

We lost Mom on Easter of 1997, and Dad really never got over her passing.

The song and Mom’s story took on an even more poignant meaning in 2000.  Because on Christmas of that year, Dad joined Mom again for the holiday.  He went “home” to Mom for Christmas again, joining her in the afterlife.

Even through the sadness of losing Dad on Christmas, I always have to smile when I hear that song.  Because I can just see the warmth in Mom’s eyes now as she welcomed Dad home.  This time, I’m sure she was waiting for him with open arms.

***

I re-post this story every year, because it makes my heart feel a little bit merrier.

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Here We Go Again

When it happened, it was barely in the news.  I tried to write about it, but couldn’t.  I still can’t.  What more can be said that wasn’t said before.  The fact that it still happens says it all.

It could just as easily have been somebody I care about.  Or somebody you care about.

It WAS somebody named Jacob, which is eerie for me since I have a son named Jacob.

Another shooting of children.  Another death.  Another funeral.

If there was ever a way to fight back, though, to show that the guns don’t really win, this was the way to do it.  With superheroes.

Superheroes Gather To Mourn 6-Year-Old Boy Killed In Townville School Shooting

A young superhero is dead.  At his funeral, his mother encouraged everybody to come dressed as a superhero, because Jacob was a superhero and wanted to save people. It was a touching tribute to Jacob, and a wonderful, heartfelt gesture by his Mom.

His family, his community is devastated.  We are all diminished.

Because we do nothing.  Again and again and again.

Fucking guns.  Fucking second amendment.  FUCKING NRA.

Elections matter for a whole lot of things.

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Shout About The Clinton Foundation From the Rooftops!

From 1999 to 2002, I was saving the world.

That’s how I described my job at the World Health Organization, anyway.  And while it was modestly said tongue in cheek, I honestly did/do feel like that’s exactly what I was doing.  Saving the World.  And it made me proud.  I’m still proud, even though most of what I did was email folks who were actually saving the world.

In the early 2000s, Africa was a public health nightmare .  HIV/AIDs was spreading and with it the ancient scourge of Tuberculosis, which was hoped to be contained and ultimately was instead increasing.  That’s because about 40% of HIV patients have latent TB, which develops into full blown TB, a highly contagious airborne infection.  One that since my day has become more drug resistant.

Drugs for HIV — anti-retrovirals, were expensive.  Prohibitively so for the people who needed them most.  The infrastructure for getting the drugs where they were most needed often didn’t exist.  People were dying.  Lots of people were dying because of disease and the inability to get and/or afford medicine.

I left WHO just as the Clinton Foundation started saving that part of the world.

The Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) worked with existing groups including the WHO and the U.N.  But it brought clout to a field that was mired in bureaucracy.  It cut to the chase.  And it solved many of the problems of drug affordability and delivery.  They negotiated incredible price deals.  They worked on getting drugs to the people who needed it most, beginning with HIV-positive mothers because 90% of them transmitted HIV to their newborn babies.

The Clinton Foundation is everything American outreach should be.  It should not be shuttered.  We Americans should be shouting about the Clinton Foundation as a beacon of light.  Exactly the way we all want the US to be viewed in the world.  We Americans do good work.  Good Works.

The Clinton Foundation is saving the world.

What is President Bill Clinton’s successor doing?

 

Google Image

Google Image

 

George W Bush sure as hell ain’t saving the world.

 

 

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Relax! It’ll all work out just fine.

Really.  I just read that you don’t have to worry about the Orange Peril* having the nuclear codes!

Honest!

Long-Term Health Effects of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atomic Bombs Not as Dire as Public Perceives

The detonation of atomic bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 resulted in horrific casualties and devastation. The long-term effects of radiation exposure also increased cancer rates in the survivors. But public perception of the rates of cancer and birth defects among survivors and their children is in fact greatly exaggerated when compared to the reality revealed by comprehensive follow-up studies. The reasons for this mismatch and its implications are discussed in a Perspectives review of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki survivor studies published in the August issue of the journal GENETICS, a publication of the Genetics Society of America. [My bad and my bold.]

I mean you and I will probably die, and our surviving children and grandchildren will have high rates of cancer and birth defects, but not nearly as bad as we thought, though.

You’re welcome.

 

*Credit for the perfect Trumpian moniker goes to Barb Taub.

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How’s THIS for an Idea?

You may not have heard the news that has the media all a flutter this morning.  Donald Trump yesterday banned all reporters from the Washington Post from admission to, and therefore coverage of, all of his events.

How about if all media — newspapers, TV, online — voluntarily stop covering all of his events.

Everyone.  Just. Stop. Mentioning. Him.

Because then there would be a meltdown that we could all enjoy.

And the country would survive.

You’re welcome.

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