I’ve been working with doctoral candidates, on revising their cover letter, statements and writing samples. I hope to be editing a complete dissertation later this year, after it’s translated from Spanish. The candidates are now pursuing research opportunities and professorships. I wish them the best of luck.
I’m also working on a memoir, on polishing and submitting essays to literary journals. I had a post in mind about the revision process. Hiking along the shoreline, I noted several renovation projects, and was struck by how uninspiring they look from afar, especially when they abut freeways and industrial sites. Part of the problem is that no matter how much trash we remove, how much native vegetation we restore, how much water we clear of toxic material, there is still a scarcity of wildlife; at one time birds filled the skies above the shore. Somehow renovation as metaphor for revision got lost in the muck.
About Ukraine: I have heard on the radio that some people in Israel are against sanctioning Russia. Their argument is as follows: Ukraine was virulently anti-Semitic, taking young men from the shtetl and conscripting them into the Tsar’s army, where they were tortured and then shot in the back if they tried to escape. I bear generational witness that it happened to my great-grandfather’s brother.
Pogroms in the late nineteenth-century forced many Jews to leave Ukraine, my great-grandparents among them. According to some Israelis, Ukrainians deserve what they are suffering at the hands of the Russian army. This seems to me such a spiteful, immoral response. We must guard against becoming what we hate.
My feeling is that life is for the living, as my grandmother used to say. Yes, we need to confront the past, and undo the damage we have caused. But the Ukraine is not alone in this. The U.S., for example, must face its enslavement of black people, instead of trying to cover it up, by pretending that enslaved people accepted their lot in life. We need to make up for decades of discrimination, by making reparations to the descendants of those whose labor built this country. We will never be rid of racism if we don’t recognize and deal with white privilege.
But I don’t hold any grudges against Ukrainians. As Dr. King said, “Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Women of all backgrounds, waiting for a ticket to America, lived and worked together in Odessa. My great-grandmother was one of those women.
So I stand with Ukraine, for all its faults—I am thinking of its callous treatment of African-Ukrainians trying to cross the borders. I stand with Democracy, which is under attack across the globe. I stand with leaders who enact policies that improve the quality of life for everyone. I reject leaders who believe that suffering is a necessary part of the human condition, and that this cannot be changed. The truth is that patriarchal systems, based on hate and greed and power mongering, create suffering for every living thing on the planet. If we can change the system, then we can eliminate suffering.