Made the preliminary call to Royal Caribbean reservations yesterday to discuss the availability of an interline (airline employee) discount on a cruise itinerary that interests me. The answer is yes, but only as double-occupancy. Now waiting for a friend to consult her sources/resources. If all works, we will be on the ship 31 May 2019 for 12 days starting and ending in Amsterdam with stops in Skagen, Denmark; Tallin, Estonia; two days in St. Petersburg, Russia; then Helsinki, Finland, and Stockholm, Sweden. Ever since I visited beautiful Moscow with my daughter and her family some years ago, I’ve looked for a frustration-free affordable method to get to St. Petersburg which I’m told is even more beautiful. This may be it, with stops in other places I’ve never explored.
I’ve been to Amsterdam four times, two because it was the base for a high school graduation gift from my parents in 1966. It is a base this time, too, but today I have something else in my soul. Amsterdam is the city where the young girl Anne Frank lived, then died simply because she was Jewish. In the aftermath of the anti-Semitic massacre on Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh this weekend, my soul hurts. Squirrel Hill is another place I’ve visited several times and of which I have fond memories.
Yes. I’m a globalist, seeing myself as a citizen of the earth, embracing humankind. I took my first cruise a month after 9-11. During those 30 days, Beijing to Bangkok, I saw true HUMANITY. The majority of the passengers were Canadians. Most of them were from the English-speaking provinces. Instead of making it clear that they were Canadians to people in other countries who might mistake them for citizens of the United States, they wore dual-flag pins, US and Canada, in support of their neighboring country that had just suffered a major attack. I remember pushing my husband’s wheelchair through a night market in Thailand and having people walk up to embrace me and tell me how sorry they felt about the recent terrorist attack on the US. When I was in Europe after the 9-11, people said they didn’t agree with the president in office, but supported the people of the US.
Today I’m sad that this country in which I reside is not as humane as I’d hoped this many years after 9-11, that there is so little acknowledgment here that we just experienced the largest in history attempted assassination of two former presidents, a former vice-president, a former secretary of state, a former U.S. Attorney, a former CIA Director, a former Director of National Intelligence, three senators, an actor, and a philanthropist who all were verbally bullied and called out in mass rallies by the man in the oval office. Conspiracy theories abound—the stickers on the van were not sun-faded so it’s a Democrat plot, the Democrats probably sent the bombs, the Democrats probably paid him to send fake bombs, etc. But antipathy over the FACT of what happened—not so much.
Conversely, I am pleased that there is much recognition and horror that we just experienced the largest slaughter of American Jews. Indeed, Muslims held a successful go-fund-me for the families.
Yes. My fingers are crossed that this Baltic travel plan comes to fruition. But, more expansively, my fingers are crossed that the citizens of the world embrace each other, that we reach out to each other in friendship, and elect leaders who are inclusive of all. We read today that a trump-like candidate won office in Brasil. What does that mean? Just days after the US—I repeat– lived through attempted assassinations of two former presidents, a former vice-president, a former secretary of state, a former U.S. Attorney, a former CIA Director, a former Director of National Intelligence, three senators, an actor, and a philanthropist who all were verbally bullied and called out in mass rallies by the man in the oval office, the President of the United States released another abhorrent tweet. Some of his followers don’t assess the mailing of bombs as horrific as the events of Pearl Harbor and 9-11. How can we live in a world where the President of the United States does not pick up the phone to reach out to the victims–some his predecessors–and to the people of the US to comfort? How can we live in a world where the President of the United States and some in his cabinet continue to hold meetings and rallies where bullies in the audience are not asked to silence their hateful, vile, false rhetoric? How can the President of these United States blame the media when reporting fact and complain that he is personally compared to hateful historical figures all the while holding rallies where he lies (170 during the second week of October 2018, alone), bullies, taunts, and embroils as those hateful historic figures?
No. Today, 29 October 2018, days after the worst attempted assassination of political officials, persons called out by name by the current resident of the office with no corners, the 45th holder of the presidency of the US tweeted:
There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open and obvious hostility and report the news accurately & fairly. That will do much to put out the flame of Anger and Outrage and we will then be able to bring all sides together in Peace and Harmony. Fake News Must End!
This is how another president, T. Roosevelt, reacted to an assassin: “This criminal was a professed anarchist, inflamed by the teachings of professed anarchists, and probably also by the reckless utterances of those who, on the stump and in the public , appeal to the dark and evil spirits of malice and greed, envy and sullen hatred. The wind is sowed by the men who preach such doctrines, and they cannot escape their share of responsibility for the whirlwind that is reaped. This applies alike to the deliberate demagogue, to the exploiter of sensationalism, and to the crude and foolish visionary who, for whatever reason, apologizes for crime or excites aimless discontent.”
My cousin posted this nice missive on Facebook yesterday and I immediately “liked” it: “Stop being Democrat or Republican. Be honest, have morals, show empathy, value integrity, Be a Good Human.” Although I have voted the Democrat ticket more often than not for about five decades, it is not because I think everything Democrat is perfect or right all the time. I call it out when I disagree; yet, I may seem more partisan now to those who do not know me well. It has to do with my dismay with the current holder of the presidency and many of the things his supporters do and say, NOT with the Republican Party. You know what they say, “Some of my family are … “
I’m actually rather conservative. When I was in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, I noticed that an English-speaking daughter and father seemed confused about directions to a tourist site. I approached them and offered my copy of Rick Steves’ guidebook to help. I could feel the hiking-convertible-shorts-boot-wearing father “sizing me up.” I knew this was not the flirtatious look I experienced in my thin, no-facial-wrinkles days. I saw him looking at my twin-set, my pink-striped skirt, and down at my ballet flats and knew he was wondering about something else. I said. “I didn’t vote for him,” answering the question he did not ask aloud. I swear everyone in that huge square could hear his sigh of relief. We did not have a long discussion on politics, though we covered some topics. A longer conversation would have displayed my orthodoxy.
On a recent visit to the Irish Parliament, the Minister of Defense proudly pointed out pictures on his wall of him with several well-known citizens of the United States, Democrats all. He said he assumed that because our group was in Ireland for a literary reason (we were there to advance a connection between the place where the only US Pulitzer-prize winning playwright wrote his last plays and the place from which that playwright’s father emigrated), we were all Democrats. I wish I could have sat down with him to explain that I personally feel that what is going on in the US right now is a breach between Democrats and the current holder of the Presidency and his personal supporters more than between two political parties. I would also share the conundrum that much of the funding of the arts in the US is by persons with whom I have political differences. I thank them for their financial support and wish we could come together on more of the rest
Yes, on 29 October 2018 my fingers are crossed. My fingers are crossed in hopes that this Baltic cruise goes on my calendar. My fingers are crossed in hopes that the US mid-term election next week ousts xenophobes, misogynists, prevaricators, and fact-obstructionists. And my fingers are crossed that we can be humans inclusive of each other, after all.