Mount Rushmore

January 6, 2021

January 6, 2021 is a day that Americans and much of the world will never forget. After the numbing, emotional rollercoaster of the past ten months of a global pandemic, racial tensions, riots, violence, economic hardship and political madness, we arrived at the biggest threat on our democracy in modern times.

As we watched with horror and disbelief, our nation fell on one of the darkest moments in history. Four days later I’m still trying to comprehend and digest what had happened and wonder where on earth our future lies.

CULTURE

The Turbulence and Chaos of the US Election

“Americans may cringe watching their own election at close range. But the world’s reaction has been even more poignant and foreboding. People in small and distant countries who count on the U.S. to stand up for democratic values have been astonished to see the essential components –  a free press, the rule of law, respect for the outcome of elections – trammeled. Long-standing allies have been left to wonder whether the essential American character has changed, and whether the United States can be relied on when it  counts”. – Washington Post, “World Watches, Winces”. 

 

If you are like me, then you are probably sick and tired of even thinking about the horrendous United States Presidential Election. Never before have we experienced such a chaotic, turbulent election fit only for a trashy reality tv show. It is darn right deplorable and I have done my best to not discuss it on my blog which has been very difficult for me since my blog is all about using my voice.

We are sadly at a time when you must be extremely careful using your voice and even mentioning politics. A time where people go after you if you view things differently. Where journalists on “the other side” are targeted with hostility, hate and death threats if they speak up. What on earth has happened to our so-called democracy? What has happened to the founding belief in freedom, liberty and justice for all? We have made a laughingstock of ourselves and our beliefs. We live in fear where the media plays on us to make more money by sputtering nonsense. We can’t even put up a political lawn sign or comment on Facebook for fears that we will be mocked, targeted and trolled. This is not the America I’ve always believed in. This is not the America I want my children to be raised in.

Xela, Guatemala

I am so utterly disgusted, saddened and heartbroken by what has become of our country. At times I feel so hopeless, I just want to give up. Pack our bags and leave. But sadly it is not only America that is threatened. Europe too is feeling strained and stretched with an ever growing refugee crisis and a rise themselves in the extreme right and nationalistic sentiments. Scary things are happening there too. Hatred, intolerance and disrespect for humankind is growing other places besides the backwaters of the United States.

So I ask where is the utopia?

There are a few places that may fit the bill but we all know that utopia does not truly exist. Certainly the devil’s advocate and my inner traveling voice tell me that there are so many places that are so much worse. Think of all the places where people are dying every single day and have no hope. Think of other countries where you can’t even speak up against authority in threat of imprisionment or death. Yes it could be so much worse. Yet I still am truly frightened for our future, no matter who wins. I am terrified of what we have become and what my children will inherit.

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I have always been an optimistic dreamer. Let’s hope that we will be able to mend ourselves after all the damage that has been done and somehow move forward as a nation. Let’s hope.

This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Chaos. 

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Why is it so hard to talk about race in America?

“Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome”. – Rosa Parks

I’ve always been an avid reader and the more I travel, the more I want to read and learn about different cultures and perspectives around the world. Lately however I’ve been on a quest to learn more about our own country and identity, and reexamine my own personal beliefs and perspectives. What is the American culture and where is it headed? As a nation based on immigration and “life, liberty and justice for all” why does racism and other intolerances and hatred still continue to exist and why does it exist so strongly?

Recent events have made me question our country and the intolerance of some people who judge others based on race, sex, homosexuality, class and religion. As these issues come to a head and play in our minds, some are improved (such as gay marriage rights) while others continue to be ignored. The increased police brutality against black young men has been on the news 24/7 yet has our conversation really even begin to touch the real roots of racism? Are we as a nation truly able to speak honestly and openly about race and what it means to be black in this country? No.

In order to answer these questions, I’ve done a lot of soul searching and reading. I devoured Maya Angelou’s famous book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and just last week I completed the brilliant novel “Americanah” by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which brings the issue of race, class and status of immigrants in America to an entirely new level. Quite honestly, this book has really made me think about race issues in America and in a very different, unsettling way. It has also dismantled the American Dream quite easily but I’ve never been that naive to believe that simply coming to America would be a cure for all.

Our multi-cultural team to Haiti. How I wish these lovely ladies all lived here!

Our multi-cultural team to Haiti. How I wish these lovely ladies all lived here! All my friends in Minnesota sadly look like me. Although the population has become much more ethnically diverse over the last 20 years, communities are still segregated economically and racially.

Global Issues Humanitarian SOCIAL GOOD
Plaza des Armas

Castro’s Cuba

So far most of my posts on Cuba have been beaming with positivity about how much I fell in love with this fascinating place. The welcoming warm people, the beautiful decaying buildings and old mansions, the sounds of salsa and son, the warm tropical breezes, the fragrant air, the mouth-quenching mojitos and the extraordinary history of this unique island, all have captivated my soul. As a world traveler, for me Cuba offered something different. A forbidden place with a tumultuous past that has been frozen in time.

Old Havana

Peeking into the courtyard of a glorious mansion in Old Havana.

Yet like all places, there is much more to the story and not everything about Cuba is rosy and clear. I briefly touched upon Cuba’s painful past and long fight for freedom in my post “A Look into Cuba’s Tumultous Pastbut I was not quite ready to tackle the controversial and complicated topic of Fidel Castro. Quite frankly, I wanted to complete other posts on all the wonderful things I saw in Cuba: The arts, architecture, music, culture and people.

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