Islands at Risk
Refugee International reported a few years ago that a Kiribatian man tried to convince a New Zealand court to make him the world’s first climate change refugee. Kiribati is an impoverished group of Pacific islands vulnerable to rising sea levels. He didn’t succeed, but many experts predict a growing number of displaced people seeking asylum because of global warming. The planet has limited drinkable water, fertile land, clean air, and food. The planet’s current supplies are steadily shrinking.
What happens in Vegas does NOT stay in Vegas. Domestic terrorism is a national issue. I often write about how the byproduct of economic dislocation is an increase in violent attacks. When people feel they have little to lose, they lose their socialization and their humanity. The result is a rise in domestic abuse and acts of violence on strangers, whether individually or in crowds. The anger and divisiveness that now permeate our culture take the phenomenon beyond the disenfranchised. Incidences like this attack on a concert in Las Vegas parallel the rise of traditional terrorism and are symbolic of the desire to deconstruct society.
I cannot accept the explanation of mental illness which implies that this massacre is just a single individual with no takeaway that impacts the country. Nor can I accept that Las Vegas was punishment for criticizing Trump and not standing for the national anthem, as one religious figure is saying. Neither denial nor incitement should be acceptable if we are to confront domestic terrorism in our midst.
I have been puzzled in recent weeks by colleagues congratulating me on my humility. What are these folks talking about? People who knew me years ago would definitely be amused by that. At best, I was described as “Sweet but Stern.” At my boldest, I was told that I could terrorize entire cities. Community leaders had a white-knuckled grasp on their chairs when I tersely announce my intention to speak off-the-record. Not even a voice from the back of the room calling out, “Oh ho, this should be good!” slowed me down.
I often hear that leadership is greatly needed in these challenging times. But what does leadership mean? Is it a matter of personality? Is leadership defined by mission and goals? Are leaders inspirational figures who leave the nuts and bolts to others? The more we try to define leadership, the more the concept undefinable. “There are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept,” said Ralph Stogdill, a Professor of Management Science and Psychology known for his research and publications on the Personal Factors Associated with Leadership.
Kim is a key member of the Wayans clan that created TV’s In Living Color. The ten Wayans siblings grew up poor in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. Elvira, Kim’s mother, was a homemaker and social worker who took the kids everywhere, no nannies, and no babysitter. Their father was a supermarket manager and the Jehovah’s Witness in the family. With no background in the entertainment business and little money, the Wayans’ success is an unlikely story.
Video blog with Deborah Levine, Editor-in-Chief of the American Diversity Report. In this session, Deborah discusses the violence of the shooting of a congressman, his aides, and several law enforcement individuals. She talks about the social context of this violence, what it means for us going forward, and the implications for our response.
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are great American traditions, but I’m not sure I like them. Unhappily, I have a really big problem with these days because I don’t have the goods. My mother and grandmother who were such loving figures in my life are gone. My father, who I take after in so many ways, is gone, too. I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself. My children live far away but will no doubt call or send a card. I’m grateful for their love but I would really like to call my own parents. Just knowing they were around made life balanced and feel more secure.
On special occasions, Veterans & Memorial Day, I reread this letter from a young soldier, my father, Aaron Levine. On the verge of being deployed to Europe during World War II, he wrote this 1944 note. He writes his pregnant wife who came to NYC to see him off, but missed him. My father didn’t see his son until he was one year old. Aaron Levine passed away at age 84 and worked on community projects even on his death bed. Literary, practical, loving, and methodical, here is his good-bye letter …