Tag Archives: politics

“Trip Wires”, a new story collection by Sandra Hunter

“She drowsed and wakened. Surely someone would find them. Was it better to be shot than to watch her child starve? In the cold, she held him close, and he slept and woke through the night, sucking at her dry breasts.”

In her new story collection Trip Wires, Sandra Hunter has an uncanny ability to get inside the heads of ordinary people caught in the widely-scattered wars that have defined, tragically, the beginning decades of this millennium. These are the ones who can get out and the ones who can’t. These are ordinary people who, in desperation to survive, do extraordinary things.

Their stories are disturbing. With harrowing realism Hunter shows us their poverty, their scars, their journeys, their nightmares, their courage. And sometimes their humanity. The above excerpt comes from the story “Borderland”. That story is a full-force punch to the gut, depicting a young mother fleeing a nameless war in a lifeless land. But the young mother discovers human kindness in places and proportions that no one could imagine.

These stories are not for the faint of heart, and it is natural for us to avoid emotional “trip wires” that unleash the shocks and horrors of war. But the suffering is real and, lying just beneath the surface of our world, we can’t avoid it forever. Maybe, with the insights of authors like Sandra Hunter, we can learn why we need to urgently defuse those senseless conflicts that have booby trapped our present and maybe our entire future.

Advice offered as from a wise old uncle

Listen, Judge Kavanaugh, I know where that anger is coming from. It’s pain, man, and you don’t need that, nobody needs that. You gotta let it go, man, it’s time. You don’t wanna suffer the rest of your life, it’s not worth it.

Don Grady William Demarest My Three Sons 1969.JPG

Whether you’re on the Supreme Court or not, you don’t wanna be bitter and angry the rest of your life. That’s no life. There’s only one thing to do, you gotta do this: You gotta face up and let it out. You gotta come to terms with what you did and you gotta let it out. You gotta get some therapy, man, and come to realize that kids do dumb things because they’re kids. Drinking, peer pressure, total immaturity, all those factors. But 98% of them grow up and grow out of it and that’s exactly what you did. You matured, you left those behaviors behind. I know, I worked in Juvenile Court for a number of years and I learned that kids are kids and they do a lot of rotten things because they’re kids and their brains and hormones are like refried beans and hot sauce and nearly all of them grow out of it when that magical thing called maturity (or indigestion) takes hold. You are a perfect case in point.

Sometimes, though, character becomes an issue and the memories are still there and the pain is there and you gotta deal with it. That’s where therapy comes in. And honesty, including honesty with yourself. It’s the only way. The only way to peace of mind. Life is too short, man, nobody needs that kind of thing hanging over their head. The guilt. It’s not too late. It’s the perfect time. Take a deep breath. It’s not too late for Justice Thomas, either. With all due respect, he could finally find some happiness, some peace of mind, some joy even, if he just opened up and finally came to grips with what he did, and what he denied. You don’t wanna be a bitter, angry judge for all those years, nothing could be worse. I have a feeling that, if you face up to your past with courage and honesty and come to terms with it, you could be a pretty decent Supreme Court Judge. Way too conservative, of course, but decent and reasonable and compassionate.

And you might be surprised at how forgiving people can be. Forgiving to those who have hurt them and forgiving to themselves. Boy, it’s the best thing. But you can’t force it.

I wish you luck.

Advice offered as from a wise old uncle

Listen, Judge Kavanaugh, I know where that anger is coming from. It’s pain, man, and you don’t need that, nobody needs that. You gotta let it go, man, it’s time. You don’t wanna suffer the rest of your life, it’s not worth it.

Don Grady William Demarest My Three Sons 1969.JPG

Whether you’re on the Supreme Court or not, you don’t wanna be bitter and angry the rest of your life. That’s no life. There’s only one thing to do, you gotta do this: You gotta face up and let it out. You gotta come to terms with what you did and you gotta let it out. You gotta get some therapy, man, and come to realize that kids do dumb things because they’re kids. Drinking, peer pressure, total immaturity, all those factors. But 98% of them grow up and grow out of it and that’s exactly what you did. You matured, you left those behaviors behind. I know, I worked in Juvenile Court for a number of years and I learned that kids are kids and they do a lot of rotten things because they’re kids and their brains and hormones are like refried beans and hot sauce and nearly all of them grow out of it when that magical thing called maturity (or indigestion) takes hold. You are a perfect case in point.

Sometimes, though, character becomes an issue and the memories are still there and the pain is there and you gotta deal with it. That’s where therapy comes in. And honesty, including honesty with yourself. It’s the only way. The only way to peace of mind. Life is too short, man, nobody needs that kind of thing hanging over their head. The guilt. It’s not too late. It’s the perfect time. Take a deep breath. It’s not too late for Justice Thomas, either. With all due respect, he could finally find some happiness, some peace of mind, some joy even, if he just opened up and finally came to grips with what he did, and what he denied. You don’t wanna be a bitter, angry judge for all those years, nothing could be worse. I have a feeling that, if you face up to your past with courage and honesty and come to terms with it, you could be a pretty decent Supreme Court Judge. Way too conservative, of course, but decent and reasonable and compassionate.

And you might be surprised at how forgiving people can be. Forgiving to those who have hurt them and forgiving to themselves. Boy, it’s the best thing. But you can’t force it.

I wish you luck.

May the Farce be with you

Now we know what Trump and Putin were talking about in their private meeting in Helsinki. Space Wars. Maybe they already have a board game designed and the whole summit was set up so they could try it out without anyone looking over their shoulders. Maybe they had a couple of those lightsabers from last year’s Star Wars convention and were jousting all over Gothic Hall in Helsinki’s Presidential Palace while their highly-paid advisors were standing outside in the hallways looking lost.

Because if Trump is so gung-ho about creating a Space Force, a sixth branch of the military, you better believe Putin is just as gung-ho about the plan. What better way for the two bullies to distract attention from real issues, award giant contracts to their friends in the military arms industry, and, at the same time, have a heck of a lot of fun acting out their science fiction fantasies.

Nevermind that our space programs already have cost billons and billions of dollars with little real benefit to our struggling species here on earth. Nevermind that we already have plenty of terrestrial wars and genocides and terrorist attacks to keep us busy day and night just adding up the number of deaths of innocent victims.

Maybe Trump will appoint William Shatner as Commander of the Space Force and Harrison Ford as Chief of Star Battles. On second thought, he’ll probably appoint his sons. Their birthdays are coming up.

Sleepless in San Ysidro

If only I could sleep. Tomorrow is too important. That’s why I can’t sleep. If I’m too tired tomorrow how can I be strong for myself and for my kids. By tomorrow this time where will I be, where will my children be? I don’t want to think about it. But I can’t help it. I can’t help thinking that I have done this to my children. That I have put them through so much danger, that I don’t know what kind of dangers are ahead for them. What will happen if we are separated? How can they speak for themselves, they don’t know English, not enough to explain our situation. Neither do I, but at least if we were together—

Look at the way Antonio is sleeping, hugging his backpack like it was his old stuffed dinosaur. Jacklyn, thank god, she’s asleep, poor thing. I hope she doesn’t remember that nightmare when she wakes up. But how will she ever lose the memory of what happened to her after we left Durango. Molested by that gang member who carried drugs, while I was throwing up in the brush from the bad food. Her clothes torn and she had thrown up, too, from the things that monster did to her. Even now, look at the way that man sleeping near her keeps inching closer every time he turns over. In a minute I am going to wake her and trade places with her. She didn’t deserve any of this cruelty.

I really wish to god I had turned back before we got to the border of Mexico. But the farther we went the harder it was to turn back. How can I ever forget this living nightmare? This thing I have done, listening to false promises and lies and giving all our money to these bastard smugglers, these “coyotes”, who tell you they will keep you safe and get you to the U.S. and you will have a job there and a place to live. I was a fool, just like all these other people. And now look what I’ve done to my children. I suppose that’s the real reason why I can’t sleep.

Robbed twice, then arrested by Mexican immigration, they separated me and my children for two days. Then they finally let us go and told us not to stop until we reach the U.S. border. I was almost raped by that bastard smuggler but those two men from my country were nearby and saw I was in trouble and scared him off.

I miss the baby so much. But how could I bring her? You can’t take a three year old on this kind of travel. Some people do, but—. Will I ever see her again? Will I ever see Grandma? Sometimes I wonder if I ever really will.

In the morning I have to be sure the children remember those two words: Asilo Politico. The coyotes tell us that the Americans have nice hotels for families like us, we will get our own room, food, everything we need while they listen to our case. I don’t really believe any of that. I don’t know where they will put us. I don’t know if they will take my children from me. But I know they will not harm my children, they have compassion, they will give them plenty of food and a safe place to sleep with other children. Maybe they will let me visit them. That is all I care about. Maybe I will be able to sleep at night then. If I could only sleep now. But first I must move Jacklyn to the middle, between me and Antonio. I don’t want to wake him. He needs these few hours of peace. Before tomorrow comes.