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savethehumans (2)The roses still sweeten the air under our oh-so-blue skies. God knows I’d rather focus on the little things in my life, especially on what’s going right. The fact I get to choose whether to choose outrage or calm speaks of the privilege of the life I lead, even with the challenges I face—including those I don’t share in public (or even in many private) spaces.

In my day job, I read lab manuals. What’s not to love about some clear rational thoughts? Although, these days I am increasingly aware that certain “trigger” words might keep someone from learning the science in the books. Such strange times in which we live.

For whatever reasons, for the past 20 years or so, in my spare time, I have been drawn to reading fictional books that challenge my comfort level—in short, that allow me to appreciate my own nonfictional life. About regimes changing over and genocide (e.g., Cambodia, Iran, and Rwanda), but mostly I read about Nazi Germany (and the various countries they invaded) and slavery in the USA. Happy stuff—not.

But it allows me to put a human face on those who are crushed by those in power—I try to understand the lives of people who either never had power or people who had their power taken away. And these readings remind me to be concerned for the powerless and to know that they are people like me, who want the best for their families.

What happens in almost every instance of these awful tilts in power is that the group at the top works hard to dehumanize those they consider the Other. Frankly, it would seem as if the authors of the books were lacking in creativity and just writing the same story again and again. Sadly, the power differentials in the plots are not fictional but historic.

One of the biggest ways these powermongers dehumanize and destroy the Other is by separating families. Divide and conquer. Make it so they must make subhuman, no-win decisions if they do wish to stay together.

This has not been the way of the America of my birth. But especially with Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ May 7 declaration (that every person entering America illegally will be prosecuted and those who arrive with children, will have them taken from them), it is now.


Don’t give me that argument that they deserve everything they get because they are breaking the law. It’s false equivalency to equate those whose only crime is illegally seeking refuge with people who have committed additional crimes. If this attempt to access our borders is their first recorded trespass, shouldn’t the punishment be no more than to send them away from our borders?

However, if we are going to insist on prosecuting them, even ignoring that many of those are arriving seeking asylum from violence of many kinds, the additional tactic of separating children from their parents still remains an action similar to the tactics from the pages of evil regimes.

As of late, We the People are being told not to worry about people in high places who ignore ethical boundaries or break laws, maybe even commit high treason, but these people crossing the borders deserve the sentence of losing their children? For the crime of wanting to protect their children?

There has to be a better way to protect our borders without dehumanizing those whom we seek to keep out.


Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin

I fear for these children and parents. What we are doing to these people makes me especially afraid of who and what America is becoming—please tell me that we are not trying to write our own evil storyline.

Because this is the sort of plot that never should play out in real life in a country such as ours, which has long been a leader in improving human rights. If we act as if the rules of human decency only apply to how we treat our own children within our borders, we need to reconsider who is truly subhuman.

Culpable (guilty),” whisper the parents in the border courtrooms.

Culpable indeed. This should not be considered a political statement—this is a human rights statement.

What are you going to plead?



(c) 2007 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2007 Christiana Lambert

My reading pace has slowed down because I am—still—reading a fictional history book on Richard III called The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman. Just trying to keep up with the labyrinthine political shifts of the time period is tough business—I know because I’ve tried before to understand what went on during the Wars of the Roses. Even though the author is a historian, I feel compelled to keep checking historical sources as I move through the story, especially since the recent discovery of Richard’s remains adds nuance to what the author understood about Richard’s life and death.

I spent a few years working with a local author who was creating a family history based on family documentation as well as legend. He was looking for an editorial advisor to help tie together a project that would have to include a lot of fictionalization from few facts and yet still sound credible. The stories and people needed to be historically sound enough not to distract the reader. That’s no easy task while writing about a focused historical period but it becomes exponentially harder for such a book as his that eventually spanned a millennium.

The author is an amateur historian, so I worked diligently as his fact-checker to make sure that what he did mention came from verifiable sources. However, I also found that certain time periods, such as the Wars of the Roses, are a quagmire of dissension among experts, let alone amateurs such as he and I are. My advice? When in doubt, focus more on the mood of the times than on the precision of what happened—after all, he only had one chapter to write for each relative whom he considered pivotal in the family’s direction.

By studying the cultures of different eras, we learned to understand quite a bit about how much people are shaped by the times in which they live and thus go on to create appropriate scenarios that suited the period during which each relative lived. Imagine being a knight in Westminster Abbey at the coronation of William the Conqueror or what it was like to live when the Black Plague was stalking the people.

As with many families, his family’s heritage can only be proven from the early 1600s. The mystery of how a young indentured servant appeared in colonial Massachusetts will likely not be solved since the early details of his life appear to be lost to history. The author can show that his DNA strongly suggests that he is related to this boy—and to many other descendants from that boy. Additionally, the family does possess certain artifacts that suggest a connection to the family while in the Old World. Using what he knows of family legend as well as of the time period, the author is able to create a reasonable back story for how this boy might have come to arrive in the New World.

The history of his family is part of the history of western civilization and/or at least of the British Isles as well as of the colonization and expansion across the land that would become the United States of America. Thanks to the historical research needed to finish the project, I especially enjoyed helping him to bring this book to publication.

For me, reading historical fiction is a great way to learn about times that possibly don’t even interest me until I am drawn into the story of what it was like to live while that history was happening. Ultimately, all stories start from real life.

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