Pull Down The Curtain. Again.

More than thirty years back the Soviet Union dissolved…or so we thought.

Fifteen republics broke up into separate countries. But much of the underlying control structures and mentality and motos operendai remained.

We see it functioning just under the surface even today.

For there to be true progress now, the underlying framework and attitudes must be addressed, it all must be dismantled, and the attitudes and approaches must be changed.

Vladimir Putin and his ilk have brought us to the brink of World War III.

We cannot let evil, authoritarian ways prevail. We must stand for freedom and democracy and peace.

We must stand up, and stand together. And pull the curtain down before it goes up. Pull it down for good. Let the Russian people, let the Ukrainian people show us the way.

As a political scientist and historian, I know this is a complicated path, and I know it’s not likely to play out in the manner we want.

As an optimist I can’t hope for any other outcome.

Flow State

In many facets of life, find the flow state,

Find harmony,

Find peace.

Don’t need many words, works to get there,

And when you do,

Bliss,

Not sure how, not sure the definition,

Especially as a parent, especially as a single parent,

How to find that groove, flow,

But when you do, even just a glimpse,

Moves you forward, aware, appreciative, glad,

In that space, mindset, BLISS.

Respect and Gratitude

In the midst of the violence and horror at the core of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I have to step back to express gratitude and a ton of respect.

For Volodymyr Zelenskyy ? Without question.

His whole leadership team, the Ukrainian military, the Ukrainian PEOPLE? For sure.

For the European countries that have rallied to the cause to support Ukraine? A resounding YES.

But…

This simple post is meant to shout out from the roof-tops for the many journalists risking life and limb to bring the stories out of the conflict zone…

I want to express major respect and appreciate to the NPR journalists / correspondents — many of whom have “normal beats” here in the US, but also great international experience — getting back on the road, in a war zone, to do this important, vital work:

Ryan Lucas

Leila Fadel

Tim Mak

Rachel Martin

Lauren Frayer

Eric Westervelt

Ari Shapiro

Mary Louise Kelly

Joanna Kakissis

Eleanor Beardsley

Frank Langfitt

And anyone I have not listed here, all people supporting the stories, telling the stories, risking their own lives to bring the information out to the world in Ukraine, from Ukraine…

THANK YOU.

#gratitude

Russia Invades Ukraine, Day 6

I’m still dumb-founded.

I can’t believe it’s happening.

I can’t believe a former lieutenant colonel in the KGB become president, decided it seemed like a good idea to invade Russia’s plus 1,000 year neighbor / partner in Slavic history.

I thought more of the KGB to this point, thought differently about Putin.

But then, Putin’s military actions in Crimea (previously part of Ukraine) and Ingushetia were likely sufficient foreshadow.

And now I talk to a friend in the Donbas, Ukraine…she’s become a very strong Ukrainian nationalist it seems;

And I talk to a friend in Pennsylvania formerly of Donbas — her heart is split with this violence;

And I talk to a friend in Moscow who can only hope family in Ukraine is ok, sad, unsure.

And all this, my intellect and understanding can fathom and find the paths that have brought us to this point,

But my heart? It just aches, as well.

Hearts Torn, But Somehow Hopeful

As war now rages in Ukraine on the fourth day since Russia invaded its neighbor to the south, there is a pit in my stomach that won’t go away.

My relationship with Russia and Ukraine goes back decades, before the collapse of the Soviet Union. My particular connection to Ukraine is founded in Donetsk. I still consider the Russians/Ukrainians I met, knew, lived with to be friends, even if I haven’t talked to them in many years. I did talk to one such friend recently, just after the Russian invasion began. She is originally from Donetsk, but has resided now for many years in the states.

It was so good to connect with her, to hear news of her family, both in Russia and Ukraine, to hear her perspective on this horrible circumstance. But of course the conversation was also heart-wrenching. My heart aches for her, for her family, for other friends we both have still living in both countries, for the tragedy of these misguided times.

She wrote to me soon after our conversation, openly and beautifully about her growing up in the then Soviet Union. How her family is a mix of Russians and Ukrainians. How she grew up with both languages, both cultures, completely intertwined. She explained how the three primary languages she speaks are tainted by the others. She explained, “My English has some Slavic tang to it. My native tongue, Russian, has distinctly soft “g” and peppered with Ukrainian words and phrases. My Ukrainian is mixed with Russian colloquialisms.  Mixed, just like most of the other people speaking these languages.”

And how her head feels like it will explode, her heart torn in two…

Her story must be the story of tens of thousands, maybe millions of mixed Russians and Ukrainians.

And yet now because of bravado or misguided geopolitical calculation or a longing of a political order long gone, Russia has invaded Ukraine. Russians are killing Ukrainians. Ukrainians are killing Russians. These two peoples so intertwined over a thousand years of history…

And clearly the underlying humanity has been lost. Or has it?

Maybe this moment demands the very fabric that brings these two peoples together, that it is now being torn in two, hearts torn in two…

It’s not too late to stop this madness. We must. All well-meaning people, and especially Russians and Ukrainians.

Otherwise what is left?

What is left otherwise are Ukrainians (many of whom no doubt have Russian in their lineage) fighting to defend their country against Russians (many of whom no doubt have Ukrainian in their lineage), Russians fooled by their government that Ukraine is somehow a threat,

And I can only hope that the world responds with resolve to end the violence; that the Ukrainians can hold their ground, remain steadfast, determined;

that everyday Russians can see through the lies and somehow make their government stop, somehow find the resolve they found thirty one years ago,

That perhaps even the Russian government can see the folly of this ill-advised transgression, step back from further catastrophe, death, and destruction, though somehow I don’t think this is much possible but,

I remain hopeful somehow, even as my heart aches for my friend, for Ukrainians and Russians,

I remain hopeful for wiser, more clear-headed, well-meaning minds to find their humanity again, and find common ground and understanding, let understanding prevail before it’s too late,

Let it not be too late,

Let it not be too late.

As my friend told me,

“in my heart it is Russia Ukraine. In my heart they are inseparable. No politician, no war will ever pull that apart for me and many others. In my heart they are ONE. On genetic level. On human level. My family, my friends… in both countries – ONE in my heart and soul.”

,

A Land War in Europe: Russia Invades Ukraine

It’s been nearly 77 years since the end of the Second World War (WWII).

Let this date be marked in history, 24 February 2022, as the day that peace was broken.

Russian troops began an invasion of Ukraine, another sovereign country, on this date.

And so I feel compelled to suspend the usual themes of perseverance and positivity this blog
normally aheres to, return to my earlier academic roots as a political scientist, and share some thoughts on the Russian invasion.

My first training, Comparative Politics. My particular focus: the Soviet Union.

Heavy doses of the post-WWII rivalry, the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States,

Arms Race, Arms Control, rival economic models,

The geopolitical realities,

What the politicians want,

What the people want,

I lived amongst the Russians and Ukrainians. Ordinary people.

People want the same thing.

Opportunity, progress for their families, and peace.

Extremes don’t play well, in general. Big changes take time,

They can’t be forced; the changes or the people.

We’ve seen it in the United States for sure. Changes take time. Concensus. Compromise.

That’s what sticks.

Putin is forcing his hand. Putin somehow strangely thinks he can bring back the control and influence of Russia in the Soviet Times.

I actually believe full well that Russia DOES have a place as a major influencer in the work.

But not in this manner.

This manner is folly.

This manner can only end badly.

This manner has changed European, indeed global security forever.

It’s the dawn of a new age, suddenly.

How will well-meaning, like-minded people now respond?

Time will tell the resolve we have, the commitment we have to a better way.

Putin’s way? Not better.

He must not prevail.

FULL STOP.

Black History Month 2022: Elevating Black Voices, Paused, Due to Land War in Europe

Delighted to have posted so many voices of African Americans, et. al. to elevate their voices, their perspectives, the fundamental cause I believe is needed in these United States to move toward racial equality, across all sectors, spheres.

And now Full Stop.

Russia invaded Ukraine on 02/24/2022.

That story needs to be elevated now.

Black History Month 2022: Code Switch – Can Therapy Solve Racism?

This show gives a lot of important insights on racism; I found this particular episode especially insightful.

Take a listen; worth your time while you do the dishes or fold the laundry.

one.npr.org/i/1080901973:1080980891

This podcast? Always worth it.

Black History Month 2022: Bill Russell

Before MJ, before LeBron, Koby, Larry, Steph, et. al., there was Bill Russell.

University of San Francisco Dons.

Boston Celtics.

2 National championships as a college player; 10 championships as a professional player.

Hard worker, intelligent player, dominant player who came up when racism was overpowering the country.

Thanks for showing us the way, Bill.

Black History Month 2022: Clerow “Flip” Wilson

“The devil made me do it…!”

And…

“What you see is what you get…!”

So said “Geraldine”, one of the several characters Clerow “Flip”Wilson created to deliver his comedy.

One of the funniest people I ever heard. One of the best smiles, one of the brightest personalities…”Flip” Wilson.

First African-American Host of a TV Variety Show. He won a couple Emmy Awards for it.

He also won a Grammy for his comedy album, “The Devil Made Me Buy This Dress.”

He was an early trailblazer for African-Americans in a White entertainment world that existed at the time…and he dominated, beloved by millions.

“The Devil…“, listen below for the marque bit.

https://youtu.be/5kaiLcwHXB4

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flip_Wilson?wprov=sfti1