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For A United Europe

26 May

Europe(Image by Niccoló Carranti, used under CC 2.0 via)

 

It’s Election Day in the European Union and I haven’t I witnessed so much pro-EU spirit here in Berlin since fireworks were going off to welcome 10 new countries into the Union 15 years ago. Today blue star-spangled flags are hanging from balconies. The E.U. anthem blasted down my street from speakers strapped to bicycles. My social media feed is flooded with European friends urging each other to get out and vote. A good number of these friends are reminding anyone who will listen that they were born in countries under the rule of dictatorships. Democracy can never be taken for granted.

Brexit has scared many into realizing that the E.U. may very well be fighting for its life. Conversely, the disastrous Brexit negotiations have also scared many anti-E.U. parties into changing their tune. No longer are the Sweden Democrats, the Alternative für Deutschland or the Front National pledging to end their countries’ membership in the E.U. but instead calling for reform. The reform they advocate of course is fiercely nationalistic, threatening open borders and the rights and freedoms of minorities. As I wrote three years ago when the vote for Brexit first set shock waves across the continent, nationalism is at best an illusion.

At the March for a United Europe last weekend, the atmosphere among the 25,000 who showed up was as celebratory as it was serious. Omas Gegen Rechts (“Grandmothers Against the Right”) smiled amidst bubbles and balloons, telling reporters about having been called lousy Nazis as children whenever they traveled through Europe. (If you ever want to hear older people worrying out loud that kids these days just aren’t anti-war enough, just head to an E.U. demonstration.) Of all the signs I saw that day, my favorite read: Migration is the mother of humanity beside a historical map.

This afternoon I’m accompanying my extended Berlin family to the polls. Of the four adults and four children among us, only one of us does not owe their existence here in Berlin (or on earth) to immigration. Mother of humanity indeed.

 

 

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Mother’s Day & All It Touches

12 May

Mother and Son(Image by Andy415 used under CC 2.0 via)

From the Archives, updated

A very happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers I have had the pleasure of knowing, not least of all my own.

And to those of you who have lost your mothers,

And to those of you who have lost a child,

And to those of you who had to take care of your mothers (and yourselves) much earlier than the rest of us had to,

And to those of you who have tried hard to become mothers despite what neighbors (or politicians) may have said,

And to those of you who have tried hard to become mothers despite what nature ultimately decided,

And to those of you who bravely chose to have someone else become a mother in your stead,

And to those of you who are not mothers but have raised a child as well as any mother could,

In gratitude and with the deepest respect.