Tuesday, August 26, 2008

An "Every-Man"?

Is he or isn't he? That is the question some of Charlie Rose's panel guests suggest Barak Obama will need to answer - not necessarily for the delegates at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Denver - but for the American Middle Class, immediately following the DNC and leading up to the Election.

I'm not sure I agree with that. First, what exactly is an "Every-Man"(EM)? Is it a man who has sex with a woman? Is it a man who never puts down the toilet seat? Is it a man who takes the train to work to a job he's only recently acquired because he was downsized from his previous employer after fifteen years of productive and faithful service? Even if those were only a few characteristics of an "EM", I can't recall in my lifetime there ever being an "EM" as President of the United States. While GWB may have pretended to be an "EM", we all knew he wasn't. I mean, what "EM" is a member of Skull and Bones, basically gets a pass through the Air National Guard, buys a baseball team, and who's father is a former President?

So, the question in my mind remains; why does Barak Obama need to prove he's an "EM". Another question that comes to mind is; Is that what I want in my President - an "EM"? My answer is a resounding, NO! The last person I want in the white house is someone who doesn't know the Atlantic Ocean from the Pacific Ocean, thinks Israel is a parking lot for F-16s and troop transports, and is sleeping off a hang-over on Sunday morning.

Now, if, in fact, an "EM" is a person who has risen to challenges, navigated adversity, worked hard to achieve his or her goals, and can sincerely empathize with those who are, or who have in the past, then I think Barak Obama is an "EM". If an "EM" is someone who is thoughtful about his environment and the people in it, desires to address the contentious issues that affect this nation and determine its' place in this world, then I think Barak Obama is an "EM". If an "EM" is someone who feels capable of leading us as a nation to help us truly transcend devisive issues that plague us as human beings, then I think Barak Obama might be an "EM". And in that case, perhaps I would like an "EM" as my President. What do you think?

Sunday, August 24, 2008


That's how I refer to the process in which children acquire knowledge. I'm writing here about my nieces and nephew. They've been talking now for some time - they're ages three to six. But the words they're using are incredible....

The other day, my brother explained that Ben, my nephew, used the word "inferno". And it was in context. He just turned six. I would have used the word "fire" at his age - but that's just me, I'm "old school"! My nephew is always talking - always! And the cool part is he doesn't always require someone to actually listen to what he's saying. He's perfectly content to give voice to his imagination at will - absolutely no inhibitions.

While I was in NYC to visit my other brother, I went for a walk with my sister in-law and my niece, Lily. She's three. While at the playground, she found a sand bucket. I asked her if she was going on an acorn expedition. I don't remember having had any expectation in asking her that question. Maybe I expected her to warily stare at me in the 95 degree heat - like that of a desert nomad taking in a mirage - and say, "yes". When she confirmed with confidence and perfect articulation; "I'm going on an acorn expedition", it gave me the senasation of what, I presume, it MUST feel like to get zapped with one of those laser guns on Star Trek.....

In reflecting back on these children as hours old, then six months, then two years old, etc., it's truly a wonder to me how that growth takes place - what a fantastic and facinating process!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I Miss Israel!

Its been a year and a half since I was in Israel. The time previous to that was in June/July of 2006. Now, its been longer than the time span of my two trips apart from each other, and I really miss Her.

I would be there now, perhaps to live the rest of my life, if I had my BA degree - but I'm working on it! I want to finish my degree before I go to Israel in order to better my opportunities for a successful life there, should I choose to remain there. But in the meantime, I think of Israel often, and of how I felt there. I try to keep those memories alive - of the people, of the scenery, of the dusk falling on the Meditteranean, the hills of Sejera, and the sun rising over Jerusalem - of the Jerusalem stone changing from a hue of pinkish peach to yellow to flat sunlit to golden yellow. Especially luminous in my mind is the sun going down in Zvat, putting the sky to sleep and a blanket over the beautiful hilltops. And hearing Hebrew spoken everywhere.

Where I can, I try to capture the aroma of Israel, to breath it in as deeply as possible, to the extent possible. Recently I discovered the Blog written by Jessica Fishman, a young gal originally from Minnesota who made Aliyah about five years ago. She desribes the emotional journey leading to her yearning to make Aliyah, much of which I feel in an eerily similar way. It was therapeutic for me to read what she has published. As I read what she wrote, I had the feeling of, "Yes, that's it exactly!" You can read it for yourself

Friday, August 22, 2008

...And Then, There's China!

I just finished watching Bill Moyer's "Journal" on PBS. His guest was Philip Pan, author of "Out of Mao's Shadow". In the interview Mr. Pan sheds light on the "Real" China - and the idea of it not necessarily being what we're viewing of the the Olympics in Beijing.

The talking points were on human and workers' rights. He also spoke to the idea of political liberalization, China using Capitalism to make Communism stronger, increased relative freedoms, and the idea of continued trade solving all of our contentions with China - as suggested it would do by our last two Presidents. Mr. Pan spoke of these points in terms of them, on the whole, being a dilemma. A dilemma because with the good that is being established in China, there is also much perpetuation of the bad. The following is my understanding of one of these dilemmas; Workers' rights.

According to Mr. Pan and understood by many, China doesn't think very highly of labor unions. The Chinese government prefers full control of the workforce to maintain their cheap labor pool so as to keep multi-nationals' interest in having factories in China. Lower labor costs mean Wal-Mart will continue to operate factories in China. To China this means income, and something else too. It means - to China - that it can turn to its citizens and say, "You see, the world thinks we are legitimate because "they" want their factories here." It acts to reinforce a type of Communist propoganda used toward the Chinese people themselves to emphasize the goodness and success of Communism. If you consider that there are hundreds of U.S. and multi-national corporations operating factories in China today, that adds up to a whole bunch of "legitimacy".

If Wal-Mart was to advocate for workers' rights in China, it wouldn't be a win/win situation any longer. That's sad. On the other hand, factories operated by multi-nationals allow for a higher degree of income available to the Chinese population, and thus more freedoms brought by disposable income. The sixteen or seventeen year old girl in an outlying village can now go to work in a factory operated by Wal-Mart or it's agent in China. Though she will sacrifice her education (for a time - presumably), she can earn a better living than if she stayed in her village and didn't have a Wal-Mart factory to work for.

At the factory, she will work long hours. She will probably not have access to health care or any kind of a safety net. She probably won't be working in the safest environment. And if she complains, she can easily be replaced. You begin to see the dilemma....

It's interesting to me that U.S. and other companies accept and promote work place safety and generally accepted worker conditions at a minimum in their own countries, but given the opportunity to exploit those of a different nation or accept the status-quo (which may stand in stark contrast with the priciples to which they subscribe domestically) they'll take it! This world could easily be a better place if people and organizations would simply, and consistently, do the right thing. Otherwise, what are we other than just one big screwed up hypocracy.

The next time you feel like poo-pooing the Chinese governement for their lack-luster record on human rights, you should probably look in the mirror...we're all, in our own way, perpetuating it - if we're not speaking up against it or doing something to advocate an alternative.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Here's Spring, There Goes Summer - Hi Barb

In my adult excitment over the fact that Spring is here - and how can you not be excited about blooming Japanese Maples, mild temperatures, and nights with the windows open after five months of Winter - it's impossible for me not to be reflective too. Ah yes, Spring is here. Though, this is also the time I consciously say to myself, "Enjoy this!", because in a moment, so it seems - it will be Labor day!

Having just turned forty, I'm of the realization more than ever before in my life, that time is of the essence. I've not accomplished some of the things I'd hoped to achieve by now, and the idea of limited time has set in - which, to be honest, scares me. Though, I don't want the rest of my life to be defined by how I reconcile this. I want life to be about regular stuff - going to work, informalities, formalities, the weather, current events, etc. But, really, just beneath the surface of it all, I know it can't be any longer.

Its not that I haven't taken advantage of time, I've always been aware of it, resigned to it. Now, though, there seems a direness to the concept of limited time. I believe it's referred to as mortality. My Landlady, Barbara, knows about mortality. She's a wise and kind woman in her late sixties. Together with her husband, they have been the Supers here on East Boulevard for forty years! They've observed life through the guise of raking leaves, mowing the grass, making small talk with tenants, gently reminding people about their rent, changing light bulbs, showing apartments, and just plain being there. Life has taught them alot. I can tell after having talked with them here and there over the years. The kind of telling you get from their eyes, the way they speak - the kind of speak that lets you know there's not much they haven't seen here on East Boulevard.

Last year, Barbra found out she had cancer. A small spot on her lung. It appeared to be in the early stages. Cemo, said the doctor, would give Barbara a chance. Fast forward.

This past February, after a check-up, the doctor said the spot was not visible where it had been before. But there was another spot. The doctors want to monitor it. And so Barbara waits and hopes for the best. And she gains yet more wisdom, through tears, smiles, keeping busy, etc.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Getting started...

Greetings, Shalom, Salaam, Bienvenue, Welkommen, Ola, Das Tsvidania. This is my first experience with blogging and having my very own blog - kind of exciting, but not really. For years, I've heard this person has a blog and that person has a blog. But, it wasn't anything I ever thought was really necessary. I still don't think its necessary. So why am I torturing this keyboard and pressing on? Frankly, I'm not so sure. I guess there are partial answers: the need to express myself, exercise my mind, make connections, release frustration, etc.. It will be interesting for me to see where this goes.

In the interim, as things develop , I invite you to peek around. I'm certainly open to the ideas and opinions of others. Please don't ever feel inhibited from commenting or disagreeing with views that are expressed here, or agreeing with them. Happy blogging!