Speaking at St Pete World Affairs Conference

February 12 – 15, 2019, the St Petersburg World Affairs Conference will be back! I’ll be speaking on the role of UN – watch here for more details and schedule.

India – Girls of Holy Family Update

July 2018

This is Namita who studied with me all the time I was in India. She eventually went out on her own and is now working in a call center in Gurgaon. We got together when I was back in July. She has grown to be a delightful young woman.

Sister Suja (right) was the Sister I spent the most time with at Holy Family. I last saw her in 2015 when I traveled to see her in Punjab, where she was transferred for two years. She is now back in Najafgargh. Her laugh is better than ever.

This young woman, surrounded by her husband and in-laws, is Yogita. She studied with me and went on field trips around Dehil while I was living there. Yogita later dropped out of school. She is now married and working in a shop. Suja Sister and I visited to meet her husband and in-laws.

I brought a weaving project so the girls could make something new. It was a school holiday when I visited, so many girls are away, but those who stay at Holy Family all summer are especially interested in new activities.

In Our America

Some reflections for the tumultuous time that is America today.

This is not an overnight, temporary crisis.

We are entering a period of full-on internal warfare: another generation is about to find their days, their lives, marked by demonstrations, activism, and violence. It will get worse before it gets better.

Now is the time for activism; it is not the time to sit by, watching, civilly expecting someone else to defend our rights.

Think this sounds overly dramatic? I think not. The tea leaves are all lined up. If the world calms and you can slip into a life untrammeled by extreme currents of political activity, fine. Enjoy it. But I am not counting on it.

Now is not the time to be shy; it’s time to stand up and be counted. A majority of this country does not support the extreme positions of the current Congress, President, and Supreme Court. Republicans are only 27% of this country, after all. Many of them, including many of my own friends, the recipients of government aid and the grandchildren of immigrants, also do not endorse extreme positions of bigotry, authoritarianism, and greed.

So now, redirect your daily life, your career, the focus of your time, with this intent in mind: what can I, with my unique skills and abilities, do to help? How can I play my part to right the ship of America, to unite it, setting it on a new course, in this era that really, really needs me?

Some things to do:

  • Do you welcome immigrants – and Muslims and gays and Mexicans? Put a sign on your door that says so.
  • Or perhaps you own a business? Put that sign in your shop and on your website.
  • In banking or finance? Learn about the important role of strategic investment and divestment in political change.
  • In the arts? Use your artistic voice to speak up – messages in every medium are critical.
  • Did you overhear a remark or see something that your gut tells you is wrong? Speak up – don’t let it slide.
  • And you’re certainly a consumer: use your purchasing power – tell companies why you are boycotting them and get your friends to do the same. See links.

If you are under 40, prepare yourself. Your future will be different from what you imagined only a year and a half ago. But you have a very important role to play.

If you are over 40, prepare the younger people in your life, prepare your own children. Do not let them sink into despair or escapism. Be a role model for staying engaged, productively, positively, daily.

If you have friends or family in other countries, reassure them of the essential goodness of the vast majority of American people. Remind them – as if they didn’t know already – that we’re in for a very rough patch. And that the time may come when we will need them as allies.

Be grateful this is happening now. Yes, now, not 20 years from now, not in another era when someone else would deal with it. Why? Because we have with us many people – of every political affiliation – with a deep understanding of the arc of history.

The generation scarred by World War II well remembers the fight against Hitler and fascism; veterans of the Vietnam War know what happens when college students take to the streets; descendants of the Civil Rights movement know the sacrifices necessary to be heard. They – we – all know that progress can feel elusive, but that, yes, progress is possible and it does happen.

Work in your private life to speak up, and work to regain the public, political levers of power. Mobilize now for November and for 2020.

I have lived all over the world and enjoyed many years in other countries, but I am also a proud daughter of the American revolution. I have friends and relatives across the political spectrum. But I have no intention of leaving my own children a US which trumpets unchecked intolerance, cruelty, racism, and environmental degradation.