Thursday, November 19, 2015

Something I don't get

Syrian refugee children in Lebanon
Possibly this is a little more political than I get here usually, but it is genuinely something I don't get. Currently, a wave of fear is going through America at the thought that 10,000 Syrians might arrive on American soil because there is some very remote chance that a radicalized terrorist might slip in among them.

Yet if some innocent citizen should happen to go to the movies, walk into a mall or go to school, we are totally unprepared to protect them from acts of violence by people similarly armed with automatic machine guns or anything else. And unwilling to do anything in light of these deaths to protect them. This disconnect seems to me insane.

Because we seem at this moment in time to let our children go out in a world where there is no protection against unstable, racist or militant people with guns, I feel justified in saying that our fear of letting people into our country who made a hazardous journey in overcrowded, leaky rafts with no guarantee that they or their children would even survive the trip is more than a little crazy.

Here's the MSNBC video where Richard Engel boards a Greek boat which patrols to help Syrian refugees in distress. Greece, which as he notes is ill-equipped to take in masses of Syrians, nevertheless accepts them without qualm because they understand the crisis in  a way that we apparently do not.

I happened to watch the Benedict Cumberbatch production of Hamlet from National Theatre Live last weekend. He closed it with a plea to donate to Save the Children and a  few fragments from a poem by Warsan Shire called "Home". This is how it starts:

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

 Here is a link to a place where you can read the whole thing. Read it and then consider donating to one of the many places geared to help the people in the leaky boats. If you can't figure out what these might be, please write me. If you're a state governor who is going to try and keep Syrian refugees out of your state, well, I'd advise you to go elsewhere to spread your message.

a picture from The Daily Impact

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Peace for Paris

                                                                                                                  Jean Jullien
You've probably seen this somewhere today, but just in case someone hasn't I thought I'd post it. Slate magazine tracked down Jean Jullien, the illustrator who drew it and posted a short interview HERE.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

veteran--and a bonus word as well

                                                                                                                U.S. Navy

It's Veteran's Day here in the U.S. which for some reason I'm more aware of than usual, perhaps because it's in the middle of the week, even though so many other holidays have been moved to Mondays to accommodate weekend plans. There have been lots of vets' activities too, one of which I'll mention below.

So I started thinking about the word 'veteran', and realized that I really didn't have a clue where it came from--not even a guess.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, 'veteran' came into English around 1500 and meant pretty much what we mean now--'an old, experienced soldier'. The French was vétéran, the Latin veteranus, and though this had the meaning of "old, aged or in long use", it was used particularly of soldiers. But the emphasis on age is there in the source word, vetus, which is all about age and use, and not about war. It's also the source of words like the Italian vecchio, the Spanish viejo, and the French vieux, which all mean old or aged and may be more familiar to us from our various language studies. It's a bit surprising to me, as, when you think about it, there must always have been some pretty young veterans coming home from every war. But I guess they do stay veterans for a pretty long time afterwards.

My mother, Carolyn S. Graham, as a WAVE

The expanded use of 'veteran' to mean anyone who has been of long service in a role or job doesn't come around in print till about 1590, which is a fairly long time after as these things go. 

This also got me thinking about the word 'inveterate'. Turns out I didn't really know what 'inveterate' meant. I think I've probably heard it most used in the phrase, 'an inveterate liar', so I always thought it meant something like 'accomplished' or 'skilled', maybe with a touch of shadiness thrown in. But inveterate really means 'habitual or long-standing'. It too has vetus at its root, the Latin  past participle inveterare meaning 'to grow old in'.

Santa Cruz is holding a very Santa Cruzan sort of Veteran's Day celebration this year. the Holistic Veterans are inviting the community to a Community Healing Project this evening. They're using the Veterans Memorial to host a wide range of holistic healing sessions, like yoga, reiki, acupuncture and so on, serving an organic meal, doing pottery and art  and music. It's largely free but there's an auction and a raffle and all proceeds are going to be used to send twelve vets to healing retreat in Costa Rica. Here's a story of the Holistic Warriors and how they came to know of this Costa Rican site. I won't be able to attend this evening but it's a great idea and I certainly hope it's successful.

Although I am not really of a military cast of mind, coming of age in the Vietnam era as I did, both my parents were vets and I owe my existence to the fact that they were, as they met while stationed overseas. So Happy Veteran's Day, everyone.