#Connections: Building community in a troubled time

When I went to Homer for the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference, I deliberately stayed away from the news. I enjoyed conversations with colleagues and immersed myself in readings and writing. And I felt refreshed when I got home.

Then I opened the newspaper and started following articles on social media. (Yes, I make sure I am looking at reliable sources.) Things had gotten worse, not better, in the rest of the world.

Of course, I was not surprised at the latest political vitriol and the stupid things certain people are saying. But the news from the United States’ southern border was horrific. 

See this PBS article for an example of how bad it’s gotten in the detention centers:

And this Twitter post of footage from a Justice lawyer’s defense of the current conditions:

Okay, I know that the CBP is working without enough resources and there are some good staff members out there doing their best with what they have. But it’s not enough. Why hasn’t Congress passed more funding, or the Federal government shifted money and staff during this emergency? And how did we get to this point? Didn’t the courts already say that we couldn’t keep children separate for so long? Aren’t there rules being broken here?

How does this happen in America? How can we let this go on? Even if all these people were coming here illegally (which has not been established), they deserve basic human rights. They deserve to be safe, healthy, and unharmed. They are human beings, just like you  and me.

For the last few years, I’ve been appalled at the loss of civility in our country. I have tried to cultivate a civil society through my own personal and public actions, including my blog themes (#FellowshipofWords, #Let’sThinkAbout, and this year’s #Connections). 

It’s hard to imagine in troubled times, but those little blog themes are connected to the situation we find ourselves in today. It’s all part of the same picture. If you think that it’s good to use books and words to bring people together, to use your critical thinking, to build connections with people near and far, I agree with you. All these things, and more, can help us create a world that works better for everyone. We’ve got to start somewhere.

Right now, those blog themes seem woefully inadequate to the task. I am thinking about what else I can do, for example the suggestions from this article:

But I can’t give up. Those people in detention need us, to save their lives. 

And you shouldn’t give up, either. Please give some thought right now to what you can do in your little corner of the world or in your community groups or on your social media. Can you write letters or emails to your representatives and the administration? Can you donate to or volunteer for groups like the ACLU ( and RAICES ( Can you help make your community a safer place for all people? Can you help redeem our country so that we stop sliding toward evil and get back on the right track again? 

I hope so. It’ll take more than this blog post to make a difference. And we’ll need your help.

Please feel free to comment with your ideas on how we can turn this around.

I love to share my passion for Alaska and its history in my writing for young adults and their grown ups.

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