Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Monday, February 27, 2017

Strangers in Strange Lands

2017 Peace Corps Theme

February 26 - March 4, 2017 

Peace Corps Week commemorates President Kennedy’s establishment of the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961. During this annual event, the Peace Corps community celebrates all the ways that Peace Corps makes a difference at home and abroad and renews its commitment to service.

Ironically, this year's Peace Corps Week theme is "Highlighting Hospitality." Returned Peace Corps Volunteers have been asked to share how our host countries made us feel at home while we served overseas.

I knew what it’s like to be a stranger in a strange land, not just through Richard Heinlein’s novel by that name. As a Peace Corps Volunteer I've sweltered in Santo Domingo in August and Belize City in December. I've trudged miles to work and back in torrential downpours in Seychelles. As a health programming and training specialist, I helped put together an adolescent suicide prevention training in Western Samoa and an HIV/AIDS Asia subregional conference in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

In all of these places, I was treated with kindness and respect...and felt proud to wear my Peace Corps badge and represent America.

So today I reflect on how we treat those who are different from us in this country now. This morning's news carries a story about yet another Jewish cemetery being desecrated. My local paper alludes to another incident of bullying of Muslim elementary school children. Our new President has proposed in his draft budget the elimination of AmeriCorps. Will chopping Peace Corps be next?

I wonder how I would be received in another country today once I identified myself as an American. What do we, as a country, now represent? Are we still the emblem for "liberty and justice for all"? 
Here in America, I wonder if I'm a stranger in a strange land once again.

I saw this last night on Facebook and hesitated to share. Many of my friends are posting that they want only happy and upbeat news..."nothing political." I feel compelled to share this anonymous statement here. I don't know who wrote it, but the writer undertand my anxieties.

Some people are saying that we should give the president a chance, that we should "work together" with him because he won the election and he is "everyone's president." This is my response:

•I will not forget how badly he and so many others treated former President Barack Obama for 8 years...
•I will not "work together" to build a wall.
•I will not "work together" to persecute Muslims.
•I will not "work together" to shut out refugees from countries where we destabilized their governments, no matter how bad they might have been, so that we could have something more agreeable to our oligarchy.
•I will not "work together" to lower taxes on the 1%.  •I will not "work together" to increase taxes on the middle class and poor.
•I will not "work together" to help this man use the Presidency to line his pockets and those of his cronies.

•I will not "work together" to weaken and demolish environmental protection.
•I will not "work together" to sell American lands to companies which then despoil those lands. •I will not "work together" to enable the killing in any way of whole species of animals just because they are predators, or inconvenient for a few, or because some people want to get their thrills killing them.
•I will not "work together" to remove civil rights from anyone.
•I will not "work together" to waste trillions more on our military when we already have the strongest in the world.
•I will not "work together" to alienate countries that have been our allies for as long as I have been alive.
•I will not "work together" to slash funding for education.
•I will not "work together" to take basic assistance from people who are at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.
•I will not "work together" to allow torture and "black op" prison sites.

•I will not "work together" to "take their oil."
•I will not "work together" to get rid of common sense regulations on guns.
•I will not "work together" to eliminate the minimum wage.
•I will not "work together" to support so-called "Right To Work" laws, or undermine, weaken or destroy Unions in any way.
•I will not "work together" to suppress scientific research, be it on climate change, fracking, or any other issue where a majority of scientists agree that the president and his supporters are wrong on the facts.

•I will not "work together" to criminalize abortion or restrict health care for women.
•I will not "work together" to increase the number of nations that have nuclear weapons.
•I will not "work together" to put even more "big money" into politics.
•I will not "work together" to violate the Geneva Convention.
•I will not "work together" to give the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazi Party and white supremacists a seat at the table, or to normalize their hatred.
•I will not "work together" to deny health care to people who need it.
•I will not "work together" to increase the profits of the insurance companies.
•I will not "work together" to deny medical coverage to people on the basis of an alleged or actual "pre-existing condition."
•I will not "work together" to increase voter suppression.
•I will not "work together" to normalize tyranny.
•I will not "work together" with anyone who is, or admires, tyrants and dictators.
•I will not "work together" with the president or anyone who supports him, because I will not allow one man to feed upon the fears of the populace, blaming minorities for their condition or their inability to thrive.
I will not work with someone who promises to destroy so much of what I value about this nation.

I will say "Welcome" to all who seek peace and justice in the United States of America.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Paean to Peace and Yehudi Menuhin

With AAUW at Islamic Center

"Peace may sound simple - one beautiful word - but it requires everything we have, every quality, every strength, every dream, every high ideal."-- Yehudi Menuhin

In the early days of television and my adolescence I had a crush on Yehudi Menuhin. I'd sit enraptured when he appeared with his violin. I knew he'd been a child prodigy, but what impressed me most was that.he always looked so intense, so focused, and so transported when he played his violin. I hadn't thought of him in years, but recently I read that this stellar musician saw music as a way of making peace. He lived and breathed peace. His instrument served as an extension of himself.
"The violin, through the serene clarity of its song, helps to keep our bearings in the storm, as a light in the night, a compass in the tempest, it shows us a way to a haven of sincerity and respect," he wrote.
Yehudi Menuhin
Menuhin came back into my consciousness since I began a new quest to find ways to embrace peace. I've learned recently as well that the Hebrew word for peace, shalom, means more than just a cessation of warfare. When people greet one another with "shalom," they are wishing one another a integrated, complete and healthy lifestyle.
Shalom (Hebrew: שָׁלוֹם‎ shalom; also spelled as sholom, sholem, sholoim, shulem) is a Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility and can be used idiomatically to mean both hello and goodbye.
 I've also learned another Hebrew phrase: olam chesed yibnaneh. This means "we will build this world with kindness."
In an effort to understand other faiths, I've been recently to the Sikh film festival at the Frida Cinema in Santa Ana, to the Islamic Center in Fullerton with many of my AAUW branch members, and to a Latter Day Saints organ concert in Newport Beach. I've attended several synagogue Sabbaths and several Orange County Interfaith Network events. I intend to attend more.
Later this month in London I plan to see the London Museum of Jewish Life and go to a Purim service at Westminster Synagogue.
And I'm listening to Menuhin once more. Here he is, playing the Concerto for Violin No 1 in D major, Op. 6: 2nd movement, Allegro spirituoso by Niccolò Paganini

Teaching technique....