Global Mom: Eight Countries, Sixteen Addresses, Five Languages, One Family
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I was raised primarily in the great American west by parents who had studied and worked in Germany, spoke fluent German, and subsequently kept their secrets from us in German. We cracked that code, there were no more secrets, and my passion for languages and discovering the world was ignited.
With my parents and siblings I spent portions of my upbringing in Austria Salzburg and Vienna , then worked and studied in Austria during my university years and as a young married graduate student. I was wooed by his umlauts. What is the book about? Far more than cultural commentary.
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What it is, is a frank depiction of what this kind of peripatetic life deals you——the stress, the loneliness, the fractured then reconstructed identity, the many losses——and how all those factors are counterbalanced with the innumerable gains. At the heart of the book and here comes the spoiler is the tragic loss our family has known in burying our oldest child when he was What is redemptive in the book, and readers have commented that it is the strength of the narrative, is that in spite of so many losses and the ultimate loss of death, there is hope in the possibility of living onward.
That possibility hinges on love. What type of audience do you feel your book would appeal to? My readers are, interestingly, both those who have lived internationally, and those who have never left their hometowns! The first group identifies strongly with the perils and pleasures of expatriate life.
But only on the outset. I think what those two readers have in common is an ear for strong storytelling and a heart for family and community, and particularly for that mysteriously potent link between parent and child.
Where can people buy your book? Through my publisher, Familius. It is available in electronic and paperback and I recorded an audio version Audible. Not what all authors do, I guess. It made sense to add my singing voice to my written one. Is there a message in your book that you want to get across to your readers?
How about I share some short excerpts from Global Mom, itself? What lies at the heart of the tale of this table and is of greatest value, I believe, are not the glimmery, photo-op, made-for- movie, fairy-tale dinner parties, no matter how scintillating, nor the into-the-wee-hours conversations, however colorful. That truth is that just about everything, every last thing, every object is, ultimately, disposable…Aside from my husband and our four children, who have always been my world amid this whirl, there are very few tangible things that have remained constant…My people, though, my most intimate, adored and invaluable people, they are my indispensables.
Lose the rest of the stuff, go ahead, but do not lose my family. My family, they are what I knew would always remain. The very soil that no soul wants to visit. The one topography no parent ever wants to feel underfoot. The haunted land of loss has taught me more than any foreign land ever could. Unlike other geographies one might know for a year or two or even for decades, the landscape of loss becomes a kind of permanent overlay to whatever and wherever follows.
What were the challenges research, literary, psychological, and logistical you experienced in writing the book? One of my favorite authors is Pico Iyer, and I was relieved to read in an interview that for him the hardest parts of writing are deciding what to leave out, and clarity. I will begin by briefly reviewing several aspects of the present ecological crisis, with the aim of drawing on the results of the best scientific research available today, letting them touch us deeply and provide a concrete foundation for the ethical and spiritual itinerary that follows.
I will then consider some principles drawn from the Judaeo-Christian tradition which can render our commitment to the environment more coherent. I will then attempt to get to the roots of the present situation, so as to consider not only its symptoms but also its deepest causes. This will help to provide an approach to ecology which respects our unique place as human beings in this world and our relationship to our surroundings.
Global Mom, A Memoir
In light of this reflection, I will advance some broader proposals for dialogue and action which would involve each of us as individuals, and also affect international policy. Finally, convinced as I am that change is impossible without motivation and a process of education, I will offer some inspired guidelines for human development to be found in the treasure of Christian spiritual experience.
Although each chapter will have its own subject and specific approach, it will also take up and re-examine important questions previously dealt with. This is particularly the case with a number of themes which will reappear as the Encyclical unfolds. As examples, I will point to the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, the conviction that everything in the world is connected, the critique of new paradigms and forms of power derived from technology, the call to seek other ways of understanding the economy and progress, the value proper to each creature, the human meaning of ecology, the need for forthright and honest debate, the serious responsibility of international and local policy, the throwaway culture and the proposal of a new lifestyle.
These questions will not be dealt with once and for all, but reframed and enriched again and again. Theological and philosophical reflections on the situation of humanity and the world can sound tiresome and abstract, unless they are grounded in a fresh analysis of our present situation, which is in many ways unprecedented in the history of humanity. So, before considering how faith brings new incentives and requirements with regard to the world of which we are a part, I will briefly turn to what is happening to our common home. Although change is part of the working of complex systems, the speed with which human activity has developed contrasts with the naturally slow pace of biological evolution.
Moreover, the goals of this rapid and constant change are not necessarily geared to the common good or to integral and sustainable human development. Change is something desirable, yet it becomes a source of anxiety when it causes harm to the world and to the quality of life of much of humanity.
Following a period of irrational confidence in progress and human abilities, some sectors of society are now adopting a more critical approach. We see increasing sensitivity to the environment and the need to protect nature, along with a growing concern, both genuine and distressing, for what is happening to our planet. Let us review, however cursorily, those questions which are troubling us today and which we can no longer sweep under the carpet. Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it.
Exposure to atmospheric pollutants produces a broad spectrum of health hazards, especially for the poor, and causes millions of premature deaths. People take sick, for example, from breathing high levels of smoke from fuels used in cooking or heating. There is also pollution that affects everyone, caused by transport, industrial fumes, substances which contribute to the acidification of soil and water, fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and agrotoxins in general.
Technology, which, linked to business interests, is presented as the only way of solving these problems, in fact proves incapable of seeing the mysterious network of relations between things and so sometimes solves one problem only to create others. Account must also be taken of the pollution produced by residue, including dangerous waste present in different areas. Each year hundreds of millions of tons of waste are generated, much of it non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive, from homes and businesses, from construction and demolition sites, from clinical, electronic and industrial sources.
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The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish. Industrial waste and chemical products utilized in cities and agricultural areas can lead to bioaccumulation in the organisms of the local population, even when levels of toxins in those places are low. These problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture which affects the excluded just as it quickly reduces things to rubbish. To cite one example, most of the paper we produce is thrown away and not recycled.
It is hard for us to accept that the way natural ecosystems work is exemplary: plants synthesize nutrients which feed herbivores; these in turn become food for carnivores, which produce significant quantities of organic waste which give rise to new generations of plants. But our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products.