By Alice Herb
For what seems like a very long time, I have been dismayed- though more accurately depressed- by the state of world affairs. I’ve struggled to figure out what I, at my advanced age, could do about it. I can vote, I can donate to causes I believe in. I can write letters to media outlets, and politicians. But that all seems trivial given the immense number of critical issues and the emergency state of so many. I used to be obsessed with reading the news immediately upon awakening but now I have cut down on so much reading. I couldn’t even write my blog. But then I figured out that I am not alone in my feelings and decided to share them with you.
I was born in Vienna, Austria in 1933 at the cusp of the worldwide horror of World War II. Hitler had taken over Germany and by 1938 had annexed Austria as part of Germany. Among other negative events, this re-ignited a vicious form of antisemitism that convinced my father that we had to leave. It was almost a full year before we were able to leave and immigrate to the United States. That year is etched in my memory so clearly that I can remember details that no little girl should have to swallow. But we were lucky to have the wonderfully generous backing of a benefactor who supplied the necessary affidavits of support that enabled our entry to the States. I immediately fell in love with New York City especially the skyscrapers – the Empire State Building being my favorite. These impressions helped me to believe that there were no limits to what an immigrant could strive for and accomplish.
If I didn’t manage to reach the pinnacle of success and wealth, I think I did pretty well. Attorney, Journalist, Bioethicist – all of them with a good measure of success. These were the possibilities that were open to me but that is not the case today almost anywhere in the world. That brings me to despair.
For years now, immigration has been an overwhelming problem. The circumstances and conditions in so many parts of the world are so grave. So many have realistic fears of life or death that fleeing one’s home country seems the only solution. Legal and illegal immigration have snowballed into such proportions that no set of solutions has made a dent in the insurmountable numbers of people seeking to come here for a better life. The war in the Ukraine is now almost two years old. And now we have the incredible mess in the Middle East for more than two months with too many deaths and so much carnage. Serious political chaos abroad is becoming critical and here at home, our very fundamental democracy is at stake. Rising discrimination against minorities and most recently deadly anti-semitic words and acts have threatened large numbers of citizens of this country. I am not even mentioning the deadly drug issues that have not lessened but rather morphed into new issues. The homeless, the mentally ill, and the undernourished children and adults all exist in record numbers in this land of plenty. I could list more but that will only lead to more sleeplessness.
For me, this has been deja vu as I remember 1938. Yes, our situation can be compared to historical ones. The Civil War, the assassination of Presidents, most notably Lincoln and Kennedy, robber barons, depressions, Senator McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), and Watergate – to name just a few prominent events from the past. Do we have to repeat history and worry that this time this glorious country will not survive? We must all get busy to protect and support our beloved USA and lead the way one more time to worldwide peace and respect for all human beings!
Alice Herb is a retired attorney, journalist, and bioethics consultant. Having reached the age of 90+, she’s more than ready to share her experiences and opinions with agebuzz readers. Want to comment on something she’s said? She welcomes your feedback at email@example.com
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