ASSAULT AND SURVIVAL ACROSS THE FORESTS OF WWII EUROPE

“Truth Prevails” and Other Exotic Ideals

December 13, 2017

Meanwhile in Pittsburgh Two agreements key to the formation of the First Czechoslovak Republic were signed in Pennsylvania, U.S.A. The Pittsburgh Agreement of 1918 includes the significant provision, “The Czechoslovak State shall be a republic, and its constitution a democratic one.” Though some of its central events happened on American soil, the history of Czechoslovakia exists, today, outside the awareness or interest of Americans. But it is important to consider…

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A Chaos of Intention: Social Media in an Era of Mass Manipulation

November 1, 2017

I cannot stop the weather machine! Luke Spencer shrieks as the Cassadine family’s evil plot to destroy his hometown of Port Charles, New York inexorably unfolds. He’s wrested the controls from his adversary, but can’t budge the lever that’s set all the way to total freeze, and now, everything and everyone he’s ever loved is going to be refrigerated into oblivion. I used to watch General Hospital, starting at age…

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The Czechoslovakian Dream: An Island of Democracy, 1918-1938

September 28, 2017

I suppose most of us associate Czechoslovakia with phrases like Eastern Block and Iron Curtain. But in reality, the country was conceived in the name of liberty. For two decades between the world wars, it was a democracy. President Masaryk was known as the “president liberator.” Here’s a newsreel from 1933 in which Czechoslovakia celebrates its independence with a military parade, while the threat of war bears down. “The little…

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Days of Awe: Perfection and Apology

September 18, 2017

The High Holy Days of the Jewish tradition are nearly here. During these days, we ask for the forgiveness of anyone we may have harmed. We look at ourselves deeply, examine our motives and actions, and atone for any negative effects, intentional or otherwise, we have caused. We do this to repair any harm we have created, and also to repair our own imperfections. It’s an opportunity to make the…

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Confusion, Disaster, and Empathy for the Invisible

September 14, 2017

As if the environment were reflecting the chaos and confusion resulting from reactionary extremism, natural disasters have thrown any sense of normality off its footing: multiple hurricanes tore into the southern coastline of the U.S., a massive earthquake shook Mexico, wildfires scorch the American West, and floods have devastated South Asia. The world is disorienting and disoriented, tilting beneath our feet. Meanwhile, the more I work on this book, the…

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Anger, Love, and Daring Acts of Compassion After Charlottesville

August 15, 2017

In the aftermath of Charlottesville, many are responding with anger toward those who tote the symbols and rhetoric of hate. Why I’m Angry Seeing swastikas and Nazis all over the internet makes me irate. It is deeply painful, and it’s exhausting. That alone feels like an assault. Seeing the confederate flag openly waved and other confederate symbols publicly displayed is detestable. The racist, antisemitic, and misogynist slurs spewed by white…

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Charlottesville, WWII Hungary, and the Eruption of Hate

August 13, 2017
Photo by veeterzy on Unsplash

Right now, many of us are in shock, outraged, furious. How could an event like yesterday’s Neo-Nazi, white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA happen? It’s the 21st century. Aren’t we beyond this? Hasn’t humanity evolved, learned from past suffering and atrocities? And behind that anger and disbelief is pain–pain that is hundreds, if not thousands of years old. It’s the pain of pogroms and lynchings, the pain of segregation, of…

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Right-Wing Rage and Humanity’s Identity Crisis

August 8, 2017

Are we a species motivated by brutality and hate, hell-bent on self destruction, or will we shift, en masse, to an agenda that sustains life, guided by intelligence, understanding, and compassion? Will we move into the worst or the best of our human potential? As the ruthlessness of conservative extremists is exposed, their rhetoric heats up. The volume of right-wing bitterness and hatred is turned up to a piercing high—in…

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Hungry for Truth, Hardwired for Empathy

July 18, 2017
My grandparents, from the Beaver County Times, Alquippa Ambridge Home Edition (Pennsylvania), Saturday, April 6, 1963

Empathy is the opposite of prejudice, persecution, and oppression.This is why I’m writing the epic story of my great uncle Stefan’s survival across the forests of WWII Eastern Europe.

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Kinds of Blue: Searching the Past for Clues to Our Uncertain Future

July 11, 2017

This blog is the “story behind the story” of one man and his life before, during, and after WWII, a survivor of Eastern Europe during some of its darkest days. I write this blog in parallel as I write the story of my great uncle Stefan, who withstood forced labor, torture, an 18-year sentence for sabotage, seven months of solitary confinement in Hungarian prison, a Serbian-lead prison break, and escape…

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My Great Uncle Stefan
My Great Uncle Stefan
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