Tuesday, October 25, 2016



On July 25th I replied to a Facebook post from Irina Ruseva, Bulgarian born, who prefers being known as "European".  We met years ago, first in the Netherlands and then in Egypt. Irina's post addressed her concerns about the dangers of nationalism and hate speak - and how such, regardless of country origin, have led to the great wars that have devastated our planet again and again. I agree with her. And while I may take "heat" from some friends who could label me this way or that because I feel the outrageous negative rhetoric of the day is actually causing harm rather than anything good, I have to break silence and say "enough"!

I know my training and service years past as a soldier, some of which involved best methods for psychological warfare. I know the indicators, impact and traps of PTSD, and the same when it comes to segregated social structures, religious intolerance and dispersions cast at those who are members of the "opposing political party" (I've been a member of more than two), and how all of this impacts family, community and country. How do I "know"?  I've personally lived it from the inside.

Fortunately, I've been able to repeatedly crisscross our country and travel extensively outside it - time and again to the interiors of UK, Netherlands, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia, Russia, Taiwan, Japan, PR China, Australia, Poland, Mexico, Canada, with visits in Greece, Crete, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and Slovakia - to connect & converse with thousands of average people from over a hundred nations - virtually all religions and no religions and various political leanings and sexual orientations, and people doing time in prison for capital crimes to bootlegging cigarettes, and people who have been severely hurt by others. Sure there are "bad people" and I've met some.

The world is dangerous. When has it not been? But I learned we best not broad brush people as "inherently evil" because of where they live or are trying to escape from, or where they were born or language they speak or don't speak, or the books they read or don't read. There are perpetrators and peace lovers everywhere. I've learned to not whole hog buy into someone else's fevered fervor because a crowd cheers loudly. Maybe this learning, this kind of being educated, means I've become blinded by study and research and critical thinking and asking questions and taking the time to listen carefully though to answers regardless of whether or not they fit a quick-fix sound bite for the day? But I say, better is this "broadly & personally informed blind" than to become "infomercially blind."

My response to Irina ---> "Let us hope that average people across borders and around the world continue to speak WITH each other - dialogue to understand and know each other.
We have the means today through social media and instant text to talk person to person, and people to people around the globe, and we have the ability to know ourselves and similarities shared with others - also around the globe. It's a practice we have to continue and increase and sift through - and we must be willing to say "NO" to the voices of fear and hate that otherwise divide for some under the guise of sustaining the illusion of gain.
Be well Irina Ruseva.  I vividly remember the conversations we had in the sun and breezes of Egypt some years ago."
© Lance Giroux, August 2016 

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