We’re All Apes. Remain Vigilant.

We’re All Apes. Remain Vigilant.

In the aftermath of the attacks in Paris, heart in mouth, I immediately reached out to my friends who lived in that beautiful city. A city in whose cafes I’d written much of my first novel. A city whose museums still sent sparks flying from my bourgeoisie soul and one which I wish to visit as often as possible. Luckily, everyone I knew was unharmed, though all were shaken up.

Becoming a Racist: The Unfortunate Side Effect of Being American?

Becoming a Racist: The Unfortunate Side Effect of Being American?

In the aftermath of Charlottesville, David Fagin published an opinion piece titled Becoming a Racist: The Unfortunate Side Effect of Serving Your Country? about a group of veterans that served as armed guards for Nazi protestors. Noting that this group of veterans claim their deployment experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan radicalized them towards racism and hate, Fagin quickly draws a link to the epidemic of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and a lack of support services on the part of our military and government, for spawning this ugly display.

Mind the Blowback: Nelson Mandela in today’s world

Mind the Blowback: Nelson Mandela in today’s world

I believe that my duty as a writer is to expand minds so that people see the world differently and, hopefully, change their minds about it. This includes trying to change the minds of people who think as I once thought, who think violence begets peace. Yes, it is a work in progress—to say nothing of people’s desire to attack the messenger. In fact, I’ve only recently understood both fiction and non-fiction and some blend thereof—fake news not withstanding—as vehicles for this goal.

Courtesans To the Left of Me. A Greek Chorus to the right.

Courtesans To the Left of Me. A Greek Chorus to the right.

Sometimes, our species’ darker side sneaks up on me and ends my attempts at an “ignorance is bliss” lifestyle. This tightens my grip on reality, or rather reality’s grip on me. It was a beautiful day in Seattle—the normally smeared gray ceiling shattered and now a light blue sky cut shadows short and crystallized the edges of the cloud shards, now white and billowing.

The Veteran and Pit-bull-itus

 The Veteran and Pit-bull-itus

We were picking up a friend when I saw a man pushing down a woman. I walked over and managed to pull him off of her. Of course, he wouldn’t leave her alone, a little too much alcohol on board.  I told another bystander to call the cops, after asking if she wanted them. I asked because it was Seattle, they were minorities, and I was hesitant to add cops in the mix, especially since I wasn’t sure what would happen next

I Went to Pakistan Looking for Answers, I Found a Long Legacy of Violence

I Went to Pakistan Looking for Answers, I Found a Long Legacy of Violence

This spring, I attended an interreligious peace conference in Pakistan. When I landed, I thought that Spring would bring fighting season soon, just a few hundred kilometers north.  The late March heat in Lahore and Islamabad thrust me back into the sights and sounds of Central Asia, the smell of korma, the wail of the Azan at prayer time, and crowds clad in traditional shalwar kameez

Symptom of the Disease

Symptom of the Disease

I was not surprised when I learned that the Marine Corps’ nude-photo-sharing story proved to be just the beginning of an even bigger problem – encompassing all the major branches of the military in a sexual scandal that has rocked the nation. I thought back to the time of my own Army service when a new female colleague’s “hotness” was instantly up for debate and where pornography was enthusiastically collected – “I’m almost at a terabyte!” – especially during deployments.

“She Started It”: Why the Marine Internet Scandal is More Complicated Than it Seems

“She Started It”: Why the Marine Internet Scandal is More Complicated Than it Seems

I refuse to be disgusted or outraged by the revelation this week that thousands of Marines and other military members actively violated the privacy of their “sisters in arms” by posting their naked pictures online without their knowledge or consent. I refuse to default to the usual complaint about the top brass doing absolutely nothing while their subordinates engage in predatory behavior.