Cross-country

We are in Dulles airport (Washington DC) waiting for our connection to San Francisco. We will be flying over the storm system that has caused so many tornadoes and so much death and destruction with the unfortunate expectation that there will be more to come as it slowly moves eastward. Sending out thoughts and prayers on behalf of all those who have been affected and those who are in the path of this storm system.

If we really want to help Ukraine…

I have heard several things today through various media, including this blog post:  http://www.nofrackingway.us/2014/04/22/kerrys-shale-gas-bluff/  about the situation with Ukraine in regards to the dangers of losing access to Russian methane.

If the US really wants to help Ukraine and other European countries get out from under the thumb of Russian fossil fuel threats, it should help them quickly implement alternate energy sources, especially renewable ones. Help fund a transition to geothermal heat pumps for heating and cooling. Find appropriate sites for solar and wind electrical production. Local, distributed energy systems will increase economic well-being and alleviate the fear of Russia cutting off Ukraine and, by extension, much of the rest of Europe from methane for heating during the winter.

Earth Day bonus:  It would be a huge help to the climate as we urgently need to stop burning fossil fuels as soon as possible.

Fifth Anniversary of the ACA shootings

Last night, when the news broke about the shooting at Fort Hood, the first thought many people had was “not again.” Not again at Fort  Hood, and not again in general.

The timing was especially poignant for those of us in the Binghamton NY area, because today marks the fifth anniversary of the American Civic Association shootings, in which fourteen people died, including the mentally ill gunman, and four were wounded.

Despite the tragic loss of life, the ACA shooting is usually not present in the list of mass shootings that gets recited in the media when the next horrible shooting comes along. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Aurora. Newtown. Fort Hood.

I am not saying that we should not be remembering these other mass shootings. We should, and we should be doing more to avert similar deaths and injuries in the future.

What I do find disturbing is that so many have forgotten about the ACA tragedy. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out why.

I am afraid that the primary reason is that the gunman and most of the dead were immigrants. Most of them were gathered in one of the American Civic Association’s classrooms, taking a class to improve their English skills, when they were shot. They were from Vietnam, China, Pakistan, Iraq, Haiti, Brazil, The Philippines. Two were in Binghamton as visiting scholars. Others had been resettled in the area as refugees. The ACA is well-known in the area as a gathering place for immigrants to study English or prepare for citizenship tests. Several of those who were shot were employees or volunteers who had embraced this important mission. Somehow, though nearly all of us in the United States are descended from immigrants or are immigrants ourselves, the story of the ACA shootings did not embed itself into our minds as have some of the other tragedies that took place in schools or other public settings. I’m sorry to say that I think people see themselves or their grand/children as being just like those gathered in an elementary school or at a movie theater, but that they don’t see themselves as people from a different country, with a different skin color, speaking with an accent, working toward citizenship.

Five years on, I don’t want these people to have been forgotten. I want them to be remembered – and to be remembered as neighbors, as members of our community, as people like us.

 

What I wish would happen in Ukraine

I, along with others in the US and around the world, have been anxiously watching the situation in Ukraine. It’s disturbing to see people in Crimea raising the Russian flag over Ukrainian government buildings and to see masked Russian troops controlling the airports and streets. The Ukrainian transitional government can’t fight the huge Russian army.

It seems strange to me that so many Russian-speaking Ukrainians consider themselves Russian. Putin apparently considers them Russian, too. Violating Ukraine’s sovereignty is not a good way to deal with this problem. I wish they would institute a peaceful way to resolve this without violence and without dividing the country. Perhaps Russian can set up a mechanism to re-settle ethnic Russians who do not consider themselves citizens of Ukraine in Russia. During a ninety day transition period, Russians and Ukrainians could patrol together to keep peace and those who choose to leave could settle affairs in Ukraine before leaving for Russia. Russia could still retain its military base in Crimea. If the US can have a military base in Cuba, Russia should be able to retain a military base in Ukraine.

I don’t know what will happen, but hope and pray that the situation can be resolved peacefully without dividing Ukraine.

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