Meeting Magocsi

March 12, 2018

“[A]re not all scholars and writers by definition promoters of the subject that at some point in their careers has become close to their hearts?1” Paul Robert Magocsi Paul Robert Magocsi holds the John Yaremko Chair of Ukrainian Studies at University of Toronto. A fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and professor of history and political science, he’s considered the preeminent Western historian of Ukraine, as well as “the…


Constant Vigilance

January 26, 2018

Tomorrow is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. These are my handsome great uncles in 1951 Vienna with their 1934 BMW. Seven years earlier, they hid in holes in the ground left by uprooted trees while Nazis searched for them with bloodhounds.   The Nazis had put a bounty on both of their heads, determined to capture the brothers, who had cunningly escaped. The man who hid them in the woods, Ilya…


“Truth Prevails” and Other Exotic Ideals

December 13, 2017

My great uncle Stefan Moldovan was born into nascent Czechoslovakia, a democracy founded on high ideals by a leader, T.G. Masaryk, known for his integrity, intelligence, and ethics. His country’s motto, “Truth Prevails,” reveals much about his aspirations for his nation and humanity as a whole. 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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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…



My Great Uncle Stefan
My Great Uncle Stefan