It’s easy to be disheartened by all the bad news: gun murders in the U.S., ambushes in Israel, Syrian refugees, sunken cargo ships . . . However, read this New York Times article: It is good news about the world from journalist Nicholas Kristof:
Of course, just because the government makes a law, it is not always followed. But things, for the most part, are better in the world for most people.
Of course, we can do much better. Check out Nicholas Kristof’s article. You’re likely to learn new facts.
Aloha, Barry (and Renée)
In perhaps her greatest novel, Middlemarch, George Eliot celebrates those who lead humble lives:
“The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who live faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
“[T]he effect of her being on those around her,” says George Eliot,” was incalculably diffusive.”
To all family members, known and unknown – yours and mine. Their choices and actions have helped create who we are today.
For: Gram & Gramp Adsit, Grandpa Riley, & our parents Doris & Jim Riley. They each have had an immeasurable impact on my siblings and me.
Barry and I had a fantastic and varied trip last year. It took us time to make it back home. For about two months, we stayed in green and hot Ubud, Bali.
And then flew – via Qatar and Philadelphia – on to St. Louis.
We got there at the beginning of April – in time to see –
Mike, Erika, Barry, and I drove to Effingham, IL to see our cousin Elaine; she knows much about our family history and always has something for us to learn. She took us to the grave of our Great-Great Grandpa Benjamin Backensto (the grandpa of my Grandma Ola Edith Riley, who made the terrific pineapple-upside-down cake).
Now what had been his land – has many producing oil wells! If only Great – Great Grandpa Backensto had given the land to us! But he had many of his own children, so that land didn’t go all that far, and he held it generations ago. :(
We also learned about an even earlier ancestor–a controversial one: Mary (Bliss) Parsons, who was charged with being a witch – twice – and survived.
Besides learning of ancestors, we caught up with young members of our family.
We had a wonderful visit with our cousin Elaine.
Back near St. Louis, we had lots of family gatherings at my sister’s house. We did lots of eating, talking, and laughing.
Then Barry and I headed West.
For a day or so in Breckenridge, we thought we were going to be snowed in. But we were with friends Fran and Roy; they are good company (and have a fireplace and good food), so we weren’t worried.
However, the storm didn’t really hit us. Instead of huddling inside, we walked beautiful trails through snow covered trees with Fran and Roy and ate wonderful vegan meals and talked and laughed over great dinners.
Then we were on our way to Bountiful, Utah, where we stayed with a lovely Servas family for two days. We got involved in the annual Bountiful food drive. Cars, trucks, vans filled with Boy Scouts (sponsored by the Mormans) – and lots of donated food – came to the food bank site in a continuous parade from about 8 – 11:30 a.m. It was really an impressive event.
Barry and I also wandered around Salt Lake City:
At the University of Nevada, we got to see the women’s gymnastic championships – awesome.
We always love getting to meet Servas hosts and seeing a glimpse of their lives. Our Bountiful Servas hosts were great.
Then, if you know Barry, you know he likes to play Texas hold’m poker. And Reno is between Salt Lake and Seattle.
I don’t gamble – at all. I don’t even want to take my chances at the slot machines. Instead, weird person that I am, I went to a great Pilates studio.
I will leave you here for now. We had more road ahead of us before making it back home to Maui.
We may be abnormal: Barry and I like airports. We love to travel – and visit family as well as meet new people and see new places. On our six-month trip last year, we flew the long way (and cheaper way) and had layovers in Russia, Uzbekistan, and Qatar – places we were not visiting but got a glimpse of anyway. The next time you make reservations, consider getting a taste of a new place by visiting its airport on a layover.
In Moscow, I got to say “privet” and “da svidaniya” (hello and goodbye) – with my high school Russian. We landed in Moscow at night. Hardy, rugged people with lined faces waited to catch onward flights. Many looked to be workmen – flying elsewhere in the world to make money for their families. Wearing clothes that would keep them warm, a few women had fur coats; some men and women had fur hats. Where were they going? What were their lives? As flakes of snow drifted down, we were bused from our gate to our plane out on the tarmac. It was COLD, and this was the end of September! Our Aeroflot flight attendants, however, were very stylish in their bright red, form-fitting uniforms, and we got to choose our meals, have individual entertainment sets, and were offered wine — all as part of economy class.
Routes for Aeroflot: http://www.airlineroutemaps.com/airlines/Aeroflot_Russian_Airlines
After teaching at Shanghai Normal University and then traveling a few weeks in SW China, Barry and I went on to Hong Kong, and from there, we flew to Israel. After our fabulous five weeks there during the Hanukkah and Christmas seasons, we headed for Bali on Uzbekistan Airlines. For a layover, we landed in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan, I learned, declared its independence in 1991 after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Uzbekistan is a double landlocked country sharing borders with five other countries that are also landlocked, including Afghanistan on the south.
From the Uzbekistan airport waiting room in Tashkent, a city of almost two million people, we saw flocks of migrating birds high in the sky at dawn. Some women wore embroidered ethnic dress that I couldn’t identify.
The Uzbekistan Airways flight was comfortable and reasonable.
More facts I’ve learned about Uzbekistan: about 34% of its population is under 14 years old; it has the 4th largest gold deposits in the world; because of the free and universal education system of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan has a 99.3% literacy rate among adults older than 15; about 90% of the people are Muslim, 5% Russian Orthodox; Uzbekistan has an area of 447,400 square kilometers (172,700 sq mi); it is the 56th largest country in the world by area and the 42nd by population; the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan used to be the fourth-largest inland sea on Earth; however, since the 1960s, the decade when the misuse of the Aral Sea water began (mainly in cotton production), the sea has shrunk to less than 50% of its former area and decreased in volume threefold; the country is along the Silk Route – linking China with the Mediterranean. Officially, Uzbekistan is a democratic, secular, constitutional republic.
From the air, we could see that the land was harsh and desolate. Afghanistan, I think, maybe Pakistan: mountain ranges some capped with snow, everything else – brown. I could see no evidence of populations at all – for hours.
Then we landed on Bali – green and wonderful. After two months, we headed to the U.S. We flew on a Qatar (pronounced “cut tar”) Airways flight- landing first in Doha and then Philadelphia before St. Louis — everything was colorful and comfortable.
I’m grateful now if a airline offers a snack, but on these flights, we got fed and entertained well. I (who almost never watch T.V.) saw three episodes of Downton Abbey, a couple of Game of Thrones (Does the little boy survive? The one who gets pushed out of the window by the evil brother of the lecherous brother/sister pair? No, don’t tell me. I hope to be on one of these flights again where I have time to watch). Where, you might ask, does Qatar fly? http://www.qatarairways.com/global/en/route-map.page
To go with our meals, we were offered wine and after-dinner drinks — all for free (on this airline from a country where people are flogged if caught drinking alcohol)
We landed at the Doha Airport, in the capital city of Qatar, for a layover.
I’ve learned that clinical nurses can earn 50,000 pounds (about 79,000 US dollars) a year there. For ESL teachers, a blogger recommends the Middle East; he says you can save $300,000 in three years by teaching there, but I would research that – and being a woman there is likely to be difficult http://www.bankerinthesun.com/2014/02/teaching-english-abroad/.
Also, I’ve read that much of the development in Qatar is on the backs of migrant workers from Asia and Africa, earning very low wages and many living in squalid conditions. :( . According to Wikipedia, in 2013, Qatar’s total population was 1.8 million: 278,000 Qatari citizens and 1.5 million expatriates (brought in to work). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qatarhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qatar
Qatar is on a small peninsula; its only land border is with Saudi Arabia, the rest surrounded by the Persian Gulf.
According to the 2013 World Bank figures, the oil-rich Qatar residents (a bit over 2 million people) have a the GDP of $93,714.06 U.S. dollars per person! (The 2014 World Bank figures list the GDP of $56,421 per person in the U.S.).
Qatar is an influential player in the Arab world, supporting several rebel groups during the Arab Spring. Becoming the first Arab country to do so, Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Also Qatar is the home of Al Jazeera News – the Doha-based state-funded broadcaster partly funded by the Qatar ruling family. Some say the news is objective in presenting unbiased reports. Initially at least, Al Jazeera aired dissenting views.
However, this is not a country of equal rights for men and women. Now a woman may drive if she has permission from her family and passes a rigorous set of requirements (not required of men, of course). Flogging and stoning to death are legal punishments. Okay, I won’t be looking for work there. The airline was great, however, and a quick tour of Doha could be very interesting.
In contrast to Qatar Airways, other airlines have not been so luxurious. Because we are often careful about how we spend our money – and because Barry is such a good researcher, we often fly for less – and have few amenities. For instance although we are offered drinks on most airlines, we didn’t even get water without paying for it on one AirAsia flight. However, the planes are in good condition and we’ve gotten a taste of places that were new to us.
Because of a layover in Kuala Lumpur several years ago, Barry and I did go back for a visit because we were intrigued by the multi-cultured Malaysia: colorful sari clad Indian women, fully cloaked Muslim women, and white women in shorts all mingling.
On our next trip, we may intentionally head to one of these formerly “new” to us countries.
The next time you book a cheap, non-direct flight, don’t bemoan your layover. You may be discovering a new place and a new future destination. Happy flying – and landing. Wishing you multiple landings in interesting places.
In a speech to the U.S. Congress this week, Pope Francis praised four Americans he admires. One is Thomas Merton – an American Catholic writer, mystic, a Trappist monk, a poet, social activist, and student of comparative religion who led a “messy” life before becoming a monk. Merton wrote about non-violence and civil rights.
In The Promise of Paradox: A celebration of contradictions in the Christian life, Parker J. Palmer makes a connection between Merton’s ideas and those of Karl Marx.
Palmer notes, “Our individualized way of life makes us feel alone and unrelated; our competitive way of life makes us feel that our gains must come at the expense of others, just as their gains mean our loss (28). Palmer says, “The religion of the American middle class sometimes seems to mock the Gospels; it aims at enhancing the self-esteem of persons who have material comfort while ignoring conditions of poverty and pestilence which deprive a whole class of people of life itself, let alone feelings of self-worth.
Parker sees that Thomas Merton pointed “to a deep and vital convergence of Marxism and Christianity. Where Marx spoke of the alienation of labor, Merton speaks of the alienation of our hearts. We seem unable to feel, unable to have our hearts broken by the fact of children who are starving and parents who are unable to provide. Our individualized way of life makes us feel alone and unrelated; our competitive way of life makes us feel that our gains must come at the expense of others, just as their gains mean our loss. As Merton says, we don’t have possession of our hearts. They have been seized by concerns of self-preservation and self-enhancement, and by the maintenance of institutions which serve these ends. If we are to give our hearts we must get them back, and this is the first task in the spiritual life. . . .
But to be in possession of our hearts is not simply to be able to feel. Since heart is an image for our whole being, we must also be able to translate feelings into action, to work for the kingdom. And here is where Merton and the Christian tradition diverge again from Marx, who relied on the use of violence to overthrow the powers that be. In Marx’s mind, the contradictions of history led inevitably to violent confrontation, and only through the warfare of the oppressed against the oppressors could the classless society come to pass.
There is another theory of social action which also faces the contradictions of history and yet comes to a quite different conclusion. The theory of nonviolent change is committed to the notion that beyond every conflict there is a resolution, a synthesis, a common good, which will only be obscured by violence, but which will be revealed by patience, dialogue, careful and prayerful consideration” (28).
An example of such a non-violent possibility involves a recent situation. The Maui News reports in “NAACP seeks dialogue amid protests over Confederate flag” – “An NAACP leader in the Virginia town where students have been suspended over wearing Confederate flag emblems to school commended the teens Friday for standing up for their beliefs, but said he doesn’t believe that they understand the pain that the symbol brings to African-Americans.
Alvin Humes, president of the NAACP chapter in Christiansburg, VA., said he supports the local high school’s decision to ban the flag and believes that the debate could be resolved if the school would bring both sides together to have a discussion about the meaning of the flag.
‘I wish that there was some kind of way that we really could have a dialogue with these kids . . . and try to explain to them what they’re doing is not exactly right because it hurts people in this community,’ he said “ (9/19/15, A9).
Such interaction would help bring the community together.
Merton — and Pope Francis — would approve of such an attempt at understanding – of moving heart into action.
“Same-sex marriage remains a topic of heated debate and opposition [for some people]. There were fierce protests in the streets of Paris, and large regions of the United States still resist the introduction of gay marriage [some places in Africa, prison or even worse is the penalty for being homosexual]. That will not be the case for very much longer, according to Michael Shermer. He even claims that in 25 years’ time it will be fully accepted. Why? Because moral progress is undeniable, and it is happening so fast that [most] conservatives today are more progressive–in the way they talk and think about women, homosexuals, Jews and minorities–than progressives were half a century ago.
Against a backdrop of grim news reports–about everything from the increase of race riots to Islamic terror–Shermer has written an impressive book. In The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom, Shermer cheerfully argues that the world has made tremendous progress over the past few centuries. And the end of this moral arc — the title is a reference to a famous speech by Martin Luther King Jr. — is nowhere in sight.
Shermer perceives the progress in the way people treat one another as an ‘improvement in the survival and flourishing of sentient beings.’ Armed with graphs and figures, as well as a rich arsenal of colorful examples, he delivers proof of the continuous extension of our circle of empathy. For instance, democracy and human rights have meant that freedom and justice are now quite common for an increasing number of people. Our moral sphere has expanded. In the past, our group was limited to our own family, clan or village. These days, there is a worldwide community we can feel empathy toward. By now even animals are benefiting from that expansion, something that a hundred years ago would have been absolutely inconceivable. [Fran & Roy, Rosita, Pam, Chris . . . are people I know, for instance, who are animal advocates].
According to Shermer, all of this can be attributed to scientific, rational thinking” – review from Marco Visscher in The Optimist, Summer 2015, p. 95.
I ordered my copy from Alibris Books: for $6.99 plus shipping for a hardcover in very good condition.
When it is so easy to get discouraged by all the bad behavior in the world, this books reminds us that most people are acting in more compassionate ways–and we will continue to grow.
I feel hopeful for the world.
Okay, let’s get back to work; there is much to be done.
“We each have the opportunity to live our lives consciously in spite of all the soporific influences, to act even when we know how complex the prospect of doing so truly is.
Our charge is not to “save the world,” after all; it is to live in it, flawed and fierce, loving and humble. As children of the eighties and nineties [and those of us of earlier generations – and those later], we are uniquely positioned to fail. The bureaucracy we face, the scale of our challenges, the intractable nature of so many of our most unjust international institutions and systems—all these add up to colossal potential for disappointment.
[Recently on Maui:
Anti-corporate and pro-labor and environment organizations demonstrated against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) during trade talks on Maui.
No matter [whether what we do succeeds or not].
We must strive to make the world better anyway. We must struggle to make our friendships, our families, our neighborhoods, our cities, and our nation more dignified, knowing that it might not work and struggling anyway.
We must dedicate ourselves each and every morning to being the most kind, thoughtful, courageous human beings who have ever walked the earth, and know that it still won’t be enough. We must do it anyway” (190).
- from Courtney E. Martin’s Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists, Beacon Press, 2010.
Russ was a Friend. Always cheerful and full of stories from his life of travel and service, Russ was a great addition to our small Quaker meetings whenever he and his lovely wife Darlene visited Maui. He liked everyone. When my son John was young, he had a pet rat, Rascal; Russ took an interest in John – and Rascal!
Recently, we celebrated Russ with a memorial service at Kameole III Beach Park in Kihei, Maui.
“Russell D. Rosene died peacefully in his sleep early on August 23, 2014, at the age of 92. He was born in Massachusetts, of Swedish ancestry, moved to Flint, Michigan and later to Los Angeles, where he graduated from Hollywood High School and got his first job at Walt Disney studios [how cool is that?].
A radio officer in the Merchant Marine, Russ served in both Pacific and Atlantic theatres of World War II. He was known for his stories and his sharp memories of the events of those years. At his death, Russ was a member of the Carl W. Minor chapter of the American Merchant Marine Veterans.
Russ worked internationally with the United Nations, the Peace Corps, the American Friends Service Committee, and other organizations, which sent him to many countries throughout the world, especially to Latin America, where he became fluent in Spanish.
He returned to the sea for his last years of employment, working with the Chevron oil company tanker fleet where he ended a career as radio officer that spanned fifty years.
Russ was very fond of Avila Beach [in San Luis Obispo County, California] having moved there with his first wife, Nita, and young family in the early 1950s. Though he left many times to take up international positions, he kept returning to the San Luis Obispo area, living in Oceano and most recently in Shell Beach. He was frequently seen with his camera, taking shots of the beautiful sights of the beaches, the rolling hills, trees, wildflowers, and sunsets. ‘I am phototropic,’ he would say, ‘I grow toward the light.’
A gregarious personality, Russ was someone who truly loved life. He enjoyed outdoor adventures, meeting new people, and learning about their lives. Infused with Quaker principles as a volunteer in the Gaza Strip in 1949, he was also a humanitarian with an active interest in the plight of others.
Married three times, he is survived by his wife, Darlene Tunney; his first wife, Nita Rosene; their son, Chris (Sheila) and their daughter, Sandra. He leaves behind three grandchildren – Maya, Josh, and Ryan; and three great-granddaughters – Hilayah, Natalia, and Georgia. He is also survived by second wife, Wilda Rosene; step-children, Lisa Tunney Irwin (Peter) and Tyler Tunney (Ruth); step-grandsons – Joseph, Captain Jack, and Campbell.
Those who knew Russ knew he always had a cup of coffee, whether on tour somewhere in his red Mustang convertible, or back home with Darlene where there is a plaque that reads, ‘This home is full of love, laughter and lots of coffee!’
His final days were spent at Casa Rosa Elder Care, where he received the finest of tender loving care. He retained a strong appetite and love of food, always consuming everything on his plate.
Lisa spoke for the whole family to wish him ‘sunny skies and apple pies’” – written by Darlene Tunney and Chris Rosene.
For those of us in a world without Russ in a physical form, Darlene shared an excerpt from Mary Oliver’s poem,
“In Blackwater Woods” –
“To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
to let it go.”
We shared a great feast – tasty and healthy (with not a single bag of potato chips)!
On the table in the foreground are three big apple pies. Russ would have loved to eat a slice too.
Over his lifetime, Russ saw what war and displacement do to people. He leaves us with these words:
Poem on Peace – by Russ Rosene
Yes, all war is hell
It brings us no end
Of wrongs still to tell
And lives still to mend
And wounds still to heal
That won’t ever cease
To urge us to deal
And form a new peace
And restore what’s lost
By the whole human race
In confronting the cost
And in smoothing each face
Of still-angered men
Or still-grieving wives
Who still ask us when
Their much-shattered lives
Can rebuild new hope
In truth and not lies
As we learn to cope
As each of us tries
To restore good will
In trust and in song
And peace to fulfill
“Can’t we just get along?”
A meaningful way to remember Russ is to think of his words whenever we want to lash out, “Can’t we just get along?”
RIP: Russell David Rosene – b. April 13, 1922, d. August 23, 2014
I am blessed to have known Russ.
P.S. The radio room on the American Victory Ship/Mariners Memorial Museum will be named the “Russ Rosene Radio Room.” Stationed in Tampa, Florida, this ship is one of four still operating; visitors can get a feel of World War II experiences. To learn more, go to http://www.americanvictory.org
Although I don’t remember my Grandma Riley, she lives on in her good cooking. Here’s another delicious family recipe handed down from our grandma to my cousin Elaine:
1 – 15oz. can of pineapple rounds (cannot use fresh pineapple) – save juice in can
1 – cup light brown sugar
1 – stick of butter
1 1/2 cup – white sugar
3 – eggs
1/2 cup – cold water
1 1/2 cup – flour
2 tsp. – baking powder (rounded)
1 tsp. – vanilla
Melt brown sugar and butter in cast iron skillet until the mixture bubbles.
Add pineapple rounds in the bottom of the skillet.
In a separate bowl, mix white sugar, eggs, water, flour baking powder, & vanilla.
Pour over pineapple mixture.
Bake: at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes. (Done when a toothpick comes out clean).
Elaine says this pineapple upside-down cake is best served with pineapple curd and whipped cream.
Pineapple curd recipe
Cream together –
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter (margarine)
1 or 2 eggs well beaten…
1 heaping tablespoon flour
Heat juice – saved juice from the can of pineapple….
Add above mixture of creamed sugar and margarine,
Add 1 heaping Tablespoon of flour,
Stir constantly until thick and smooth…
Let cool and serve with real whipped cream over cake ….makes a nice presentation.. and now we are all hungry…
Serves: 10 – unless Thor is home :)
Images from: https://www.google.com/#q=Dr.+Wayne+dyer