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God Forgive the USA

July 26, 2016 | Each summer, mixed in with the cook-outs, beach-going and family vacationing, patriotism - with its flags, fireworks, parades, and national hymns – moves to the fore of our national conscience. Though I love my country, I have become more and more disturbed by our lack of critical self reflection concerning how our nation interacts with other sovereign states around the world, and how it addresses the historical and current struggles of so many of my fellow citizens. Twice this summer I have felt trapped by unquestioning patriotism. The first was of my own making, the second, blindsided me. Read more »

The Refugee and Me

July 18, 2016 | For most of my life, I have been involved with people from other nations. Maybe it’s because my mother came to the U.S. from Mytilene (Lesbos), Greece, when she was three years old, and my father was the first of his family to be born in the U.S., instead of the Ukraine. I heard a lot of languages as a child, too, growing up in a neighborhood with people from Czechoslovakia (today’s Czech Republic), Germany, France, Mexico, and Italy, among others. Or maybe it was because my parents gave me the name Barbara, which is defined as “strange or foreign.” I’ve managed to travel to 60 countries, and to learn (at various levels of competence) eight languages, with assorted words and phrases in a half dozen others. Now that my opportunities for travel are dwindling as I age, I have wanted to stay involved. A couple of years ago, our local Amnesty International (AI) group opened up a new means of crossing borders for me. Read more »

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