Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dreaming on Election Eve

On this election eve, I am filled with hope and anxiety over what may happen tomorrow.  I've decided to let hope win as I contemplate going to bed.  I pray my glorious country's future will be better than its past in every way imaginable. This poem by Langston Hughes says it best.   

Dream A World

I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom's way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Note to the Syrian Opposition

As violence in Syria escalates, I am haunted by my memories of Beirut during Lebanon's civil war. For a number of reasons, chief among them the weak and self-interested so-called leaders, armed groups on all sides of the conflict forgot what they were fighting for. Life for most became "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" to quote Hobbes. 

Back to Syria... I am by no means advocating the return to an unjust peace. Assad 's reign must end quickly and a new democratic Syria must emerge. But until that happens, I hope the armed opposition does not lose sight of the goals of the uprising--freedom, dignity and democracy. Yes, war is messy and atrocities are committed by all sides, but I have high hopes for the good Syrian people. Be better than Assad and his thugs. Be kinder. Be more honest, more authentic, more decent.  Be more human.  

Below is a poem I wrote a while ago about the militia boys in Beirut.  Please don't forget like they did.  

For the Boys

Stores are closed; buildings seem empty.
Streets are deserted, littered, silent and dusty.
Where in the world have they gone?
The children’s voices, the birds, the crickets,
The street vendors, the car horns, the school buses.
They've all gone away, scattered like terrified prey.
But the boys--they are here to stay.
Yes, the boys with their AK47s, RPGs and grenades.
Their jeeps speed through the city, patrolling they say.
But there’s no one to watch over; no living soul needs care.
The tanks roll through with nothing leading the way,
No purpose, no ideal, no moral or value to spare.
Fighting for a cause long forgotten, an enemy without a face.
There are no laws, no reverence and no grace.
I pray for this country—Lord, for the boys I pray.
Born into war, darkness, hate and despair.
I pray they know the sweet scent of roses and jasmine past, before death and decay.
I pray they find love, hope, joy, a future --and peace if they dare. 
For the boys, Lord I pray.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Precious Daughters

My old-fashioned, immigrant mother would not have appreciated this, but I'll admit it... I was sexually active before I was married. Are you gasping? I even used birth control, which explains why I didn't have children until I was 30 years old. As if that's not enough, I received care at (wait for it...) Planned Parenthood as a young adult. Yes, Planned Parenthood. That's where, as a poor college student with no health insurance, I learned how to take care of myself and went for my annual checkups.

One of the annual exams in my early twenties revealed abnormal cell growth in my cervix. This led to a biopsy, a procedure to remove the abnormal cells and instructions for frequent Pap tests, a screening procedure that can find changes in the cervix before cancer develops.

Several years later (after I finished college, became gainfully employed with health insurance, married my wonderful husband and continued frequent checkups at a private clinic) another routine exam revealed abnormal cells, but this time it was more serious. The pathology report called it a "severe abnormality." I was referred to an oncologist at a premier Cleveland hospital, and I was terrified.  He explained that women can develop cervical cancer without any symptoms and I was very lucky to have an early warning.

Cervical cancer is deadly. About12,170 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed and about 4,220 women will die from cervical cancer in 2012 according to the American Cancer Society. These are dramatically lower numbers than those from a few decades ago before Pap tests became commonplace.  

At this point, I was in the last precancerous stage and there was no time to waste.  A biopsy, procedure and another biopsy later, I was good to go. 

How fortunate was I? I too would have died had it not been for the care and awareness I received at Planned Parenthood when I was young and poor and my access to world-class care as a gainfully employed professional. Having been on both sides of this fence, I know cancer does not discriminate. Today, I'm the mother of three beautiful children and a fan of birth control, Planned Parenthood and access to quality health care for all women. And, I want no less for my daughter than was available to me.

I'll admit one more thing: It took me several days to decide to publish this post. "Too private," I thought. But as politicians continued their assault on women, I decided I had to speak up. I wonder how many women have similar stories but have shied away from sharing them. For the sake of our daughters and their daughters, let's not waste any more time.

Please share your story HERE or find your own way to speak up. Access to quality care for women of every age, color and income level is not child's play or material for political grandstanding. It saves lives. Our daughters' lives are too precious.