What we are facing in the United States, and really throughout the world, is a crisis in consciousness, a clash of value systems. Values are that which one believes. Values are the impetus for thoughts, attitudes, and actions and yet we seldom have conversations about the underlying reasons for the actions and cultures. It was over 20 years ago that Paul H. Ray created a platform to gather information as to the values held by the citizens within the U.S. This research study, which has been repeated several times, hold some key information to conversations around the problems being seen.
When Jessica’s father bought her a one-way ticket to the States from Guatemala when she was 25, that was his way of saying, “I believe in you, hija, and I expect you to truly ‘be ‘somebody’.’” Now go do it.
The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have been inspiring. However, outside of legal confrontations and public humiliations, little is being done to ensure this behavior will stop happening and that the glass ceiling obstacles that have been in place for the last 4 decades, are removed once and for all.
As a woman who struggled up the “ladder” while raising children, I have decided to be a catalyst for real change by serving professional women on a full-time basis as a professional business coach, trainer and speaker. As a result, I have reflected on the role of women in today’s world and have some observations and some “Mother’s Day Resolutions” to share and ask you to share these resolutions with others.
After Dudley Randall
“Oh, Mother, I’ll be fine today.
I’m just going to see my friend, Pat.
Don’t worry, I’ll be home by eight.
Please don’t forget to feed my cat.”
“Be careful, Son, a storm is coming—
clouds of black men are on the rise.
They have chains and clubs, and crying
anger from their blood-shot eyes.”
My Holocaust research started with SW Germany, where my relatives were rounded up. My great-aunt, Hedwig Schwarz, was the only Jew to escape deportation in Horb/Rexingen. She was handicapped before the Holocaust, fell off the transport car, and was rescued by a nameless person who took her to Marienhopital in Stuttgart, where the nuns cared for her. My sister, daughter and I visited the hospital to thank the current generation of sisters for taking care of Hedwig. They told us that Hedwig was the only Jew in the hospital, though there were some Resistance members; and they treated her with silence, because they thought that was the best medicine. Can you imagine!
Here’s a poem I wrote about echoes in Horb and a photo of Hedwig in her hospital bed, surrounded by photos of all the others who were taken. The poem was first published in Prism: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Holocaust Educators, and in Packing Light: New and Selected Poems, Black Widow Press. 2009.
In Memory, Hedwig Schwarz
In the doorpost of her house, a hollow
where the mezuzah used to hang.
I press my hand against the indentation,
my way of speaking to the past.
Touch the hollow where the mezuzah
used to hang. In Horb, Nazis renamed her street
Hitlerstrasse. My way of speaking to the past
is to listen, press the old men for answers.
1941, Jews were packed into Hitlerstrasse.
Now it’s a winding picture postcard road,
Jew-free, pleasant as it seemed
before Nazis pressed my family into Judenhausen.
I press my hand against the indentation.
Over Horb, a hundred doorposts echo, hollow.
I teach a poetry workshop in SW France for the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. The moment I stepped out of the car, an elderly neighbor started to talk to me about the Jews who had lived there. That part of France was a hotbed for the Jewish Resistance. Dr. Hirsch, radiologist, was taken my Mengele to work on medical experiments (he testified against Mengele at Nuremburg). His wife Berthe was taken to Auschwitz and gassed; the two children were hidden by the villagers. I met one of them, Nicole Hirsch, who is still traumatized though she’s over 80. We think we know about the Holocaust, but the individual stories still want to be told.
Across all ages or stages of life we ask different questions of a similar nature. I think the most enduring questions were penned by the FitzGerald-Khayyám Rubáiyát team when they asked, Why are we here? Where have we come from? Where are we going? At each life-stage the questions take different forms. When younger we ask Who Am I? Then at midlife we ponder: Is This All There Is? and Where Am I Going? And finally in old age as we review our journey, we ask How Have I Lived My Life? and How Do I Want To Be Remembered? Of course all these questions can all be asked repeatedly at any age.
On New Years Eve 2017 we bade adieu to one of the historically worst years of our lives. Certainly we enjoyed some good moments, but overall a darkness descended when that old suicidal devil revealed his ugly Trump face, and made appearances in Europe, the Middle and Far East, and Africa. While summing up the well-lived and terrified parts of that year, Judy asked, “I wonder if I have lived a small life?” Of course she is not asking about size, and rather if her life mattered.
After the presents have been opened and our belly’s are put to rest,
On the day after Christmas, we pay tribute to the first fruits of the harvest.
Acknowledging the tradition followed by 18 million since 1966 from East to the West,
Understanding Kwanzaa’s guidelines is part of our growing culture quest.
I recently participated in a session hosted by the Chicago Council of Global Affairs during this conference on climate change. The conference has brought some 51 mayors and their staffs to Chicago at the invitation of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel of Chicago to develop a flexible mayoral covenant on climate change within North America. The session in which I was a participant was led by the mayors of Chicago, Vancouver,Montreal, Washington and a modest size city of 150,000 in Mexico. NY TIMES writer Thomas Friedman chaired this session.
Allow me now to share some of the important points that arose from the discussion.
She heard rumors about him:
there’s always a demon
to cast out, the sick as hell
Listening to the national news programs of late as they report on the intensifying threat from North Korea has raised my ire. Much is made about the future potential of North Korean weapons to hit major population centers of the USA such as Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angles as well as South Korea and its large contingent of American military personnel. Without question all Americans need to share this concern. But mention is rarely, if ever made, of the even greater and current threat to the Pacific regions of Hawaii, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas and American Samoa. Parts of Alaska also fall into this category. To me it seems that we value the lives of those Americans less than those of us living on the U.S. mainland. We have little sense as a nation of the apprehension currently felt over the North Korean threat by our fellow citizens in places such as Guam.