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I REMEMBER MAMA May 10, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in About Anne Hollander.
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2 comments

Roger”s note: I am re-posting this on Mother’s Day, 2014, in honor of my mother, nee Stefana Korabiak Zalepsky, aka Anne Hollander.

 

AnneH.bingo Anne c 1933 Anne, Charlie & Roger 1944 Anne & Charlie 1950s_#F7D8Anne Reseda 1966 Anne & Charlie 50th anniversary

Don’t bother to look her up on Google. The only Google she knew would have been “Barney Google with the Goo Goo Googley Eyes.” Nevertheless, the memory of her magnificent life supersedes my grief at her loss and compels me to express this public remembrance.

She was born on Christmas Day, 1912. When her own mother became permanently incapacitated she had to drop out of the sixth grade at the age of twelve in Newark, New Jersey in order to become the “homemaker” for a tyrannical old-country father and her four brothers, three of them younger. She eloped to Elkton, Maryland (the “Reno of the East” at that time) on New Year’s Eve, 1933 at the age of twenty-one, as much to escape her quasi-feudal home life as for the love of a man whom she had only recently met; but something was right, for her marriage to my father lasted nearly seventy years.

Is it significant that with a fifth grade education she became an active leader and president of the local PTA in Irvington, New Jersey? Does it mean anything that in the “pre-feminist” forties and fifties she taught me to sew and knit and cook? Is there something special about the fact that, when my school project on the Netherlands had the sixth grade boys making wooden figures in Wood Shop and the girls Dutch dolls out of old stockings in Home Ec., she marched into the principal’s office at Augusta Street School to successfully advocate for my wish to make a doll along with the girls? (I slept securely with little Dutch “Jan” into my early adolescence).

I know that I am not the first nor will I be the last person with a desire to publicly eulogize a beloved parent who may not possess any of the standard claims to fame. Call me quixotic, but I honestly believe that my mother, Anne Korabiak Hollander, merits a posthumous moment of sublime recognition. She was extraordinarily extraordinary despite the absence of a claim in her lifetime even to those iconic fifteen minutes. Beyond what she has meant to myself and my brother, to her four grandchildren (two professors at state universities, the others a freelance journalist and a professional musician) and ten great grandchildren; her grace, her absolute absence of malice, her generosity of spirit, her purity of heart, and a simple and wholesome loving nature sets her apart from anyone else I have ever known. In her last years, despite debilitating chronic illness and a deep feeling of loneliness from being separated from most of her family, scattered around the globe, in assisted living at Garden Creek in San Luis Obispo and finally at the Masonic Village Nursing Home in Pennsylvania, her winning smile and cheerful attitude brought solace and comfort to all those around her, staff as well as fellow patients. She was universally adored, loved and respected. If that is not worthy of some sort of special recognition, I don’t know what is.

It must have been sometime in the late 1940’s that our family spent the day at Coney Island. I have two distinct memories of that day: Nathan’s hot dogs and the Parachute Jump ride. I was fearless in those days, and no amount of bribery or cajolery was able to convince me to pass up the big jump. William Styron in “Sophie’s Choice,” recounts Sophie’s delight in that very same parachute jump ride that is eerily akin to my own, the ride was a relic of the 1939 World’s Fair and 200 feet in high. My memory insists that it was at 500 feet. In any case, there was no question that I would not be allowed to take the big plunge all by myself. The problem was that the male members of the group, my father and my older brother, politely yet firmly begged off. That left my mother, who, concealing the terror that any sane adult would have at such folly, agreed to be my companion for the big dive in the sky.

It began with a slow rise to a height of nearly two football fields (I’m sticking with my version of the height, for, even if my memory is not literally accurate in the mathematical sense, taking into account my age and size, the thing subjectively was higher than the Empire State Building). The first part of the drop was actual, literal free-fall. I cannot remember the formula for acceleration that I later learned in high school Physics, but I can tell you that we were dropping pretty darn fast, and, of course, this being my virgin plunge, I had no idea if or how the free-fall was ever going to somehow abate and thereby prevent an inevitable and fatal crash onto the Boardwalk below. When the cable did catch and we floated to the bottom, I think I had come as close as it is possible to experience death and re-birth. And there, with my mother, Anne Korabiak Hollander, faithfully, loyally, lovingly – and shaking like a leaf – at my side.

When in 1987 I was considering a major change in my life by moving from Toronto to Ecuador, I consulted with both my daughters, my brother and my parents for their opinion. This involved travel to Pittsburgh and California. In Reseda California, at the home which my parents had purchased in 1955 and where they completed their nearly 70 years of companionship, I spoke of my plans with my father and mother. They had always supported me in any situation, many of them difficult. Thankfully, for only a short time, I became an insufferably aggressive evangelical Christian and nearly drove my parents crazy with my obnoxious if sincere efforts to save them from eternal perdition, Then as an undergraduate I morphed into a student radical and elicited an irate public response from Clark Kerr, renowned President of the University of California, when as a member of the Student Council I vigorously challenged his restrictive policies with respect to on-campus speech, and my parents were certain I was going to be expelled. Finally, I created considerable anxiety for them by violating the Selective Service Act and exiling myself to Canada in 1968 in protest of the Vietnam War, at which time, when the F.B.I. came around enquiring about me, my parents politely told them to get lost. It is worth noting that my father worked in the sensitive aerospace industry at the time.

On that day in late 1987 when I solicited their opinion on my planned move to Ecuador, my father’s face, in spite of his supportive words, showed concern and disappointment about my decision to locate so far from “home.” Perfectly understandable. My mother, on the other hand, didn’t miss a beat in saying, “Roger, I believe in doing your own thing.” I had never heard this kind of language before from my mother, and my immediate response was, “Mother, you sound like a Hippie.” Again, without missing a beat she came back with, “Roger, I am a Hippie.” She would have been 74 years of age at the time.

For reasons of which I doubt she was ever consciously aware, my mother fostered and nurtured the feminine in me (in counterpoint to my Boy Scout and sports activities, which was my father’s bailiwick), and for this I am forever grateful. Because both of circumstance and the time in which she lived, she never had the chance to fully “march to the tune of her own drummer,” to explore and to bring to realization the greater part of her enormous potential, but she came as close to it as she possibly could, never once whining or complaining; and she passed on that priceless gift to my brother and to me.

I am not unaware that there are millions of women around the world whose heroism is expressed daily through slavish housework, profound personal sacrifice of their own comfort and well-being and constant worrying for the feeding and protection of their children and other family and loved ones. Every one is special, no more or no less than my mother.

But having been privileged to have been her son, naturally, I remember Mama.

My mother, Anne Korabiak Hollander, passed away peacefully in her sleep at the age of 94 in Sewickley, Pennsylvania in the first hour of Saturday, April 14, 2007.

250px-Coney_island_parachute_jump_3

 

Homage to Hugo March 6, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in About Hugo Chávez, Latin America, Venezuela.
Tags: , , , , ,
2 comments

Roger Hollander, March 6, 2013

images   A supporter of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez holds up a portrait of him while attending a rally in Caracas 000_mvd6447587_1349221653

I have lived for short periods of time amongst Cubans, for many years in Latin America, and most of my life in the United States and Canada.  I have lived as one of and in the middle classes, with very occasional personal contacts with social and economic elites, and with a lifetime of close association and solidarity with the various classes of dispossessed.  I think I understand the difference between capital and labor, between rich and poor, between oppressors and oppressed, between truth and lies.  And I think that I can understand both the trite and misinformed responses coming out of the North American corporate media as well as the overwhelming reaction of sadness and loss that the great majority of ordinary Latin Americans are experiencing over the death of Hugo Chávez.

Perhaps it is instructive to compare the two rivals: Chávez and Obama.  Whereas one loses count of the number of sides of the mouth out of which Obama speaks, and marvels at the capacity to lie with a straight face; Chávez was transparency and forthrightness incarnate, what you saw was what you got.  While the North American corporate media and political punditry demonized Chávez as dictatorial and rabidly anti-American (the man who gave free heating oil to poor New Englanders), apart from the Fox news and hypocritically tea partied and toxically neo-Fascist led religious right, Obama gets pretty much a free pass.

Consider that Hugo Chávez never killed hundreds of innocent civilians with drone missiles, never violated the very essence of international law by committing and enabling torture, never violated the most fundamental legal right of habeas corpus, never spied on his countrymen in direct violation of law, never drew and implemented up a list of targets for presidential assassination, never joined with the financial and corporate elites to privatize education, protect Wall Street white collar criminals and banksters, and give in entirely to the corrupt and blood-thirsty private health insurance and pharmaceutical industries in setting back a public universal health care plan for years if not decades.

But this is not about what Hugo Chávez didn’t do (or to vent my disgust with Obama), it is about what he did do and what that means to the oppressed of Latin America.  Although it is what most North Americans hear and think about him, his standing up to and developing independence from the political and economic hegemony of the United States may not be his most important achievement.  What he did that was most needed to be done was to stand up to the poisonous and inhuman rule of capital.  That he did this more rhetorically than in actual practice to me is not that important.  It is a rhetoric that strikes a chord with the vast majority of Latinos who suffer from poverty, hunger, lack of fresh water, health care, decent housing, and quality education.  In practice, as in Ecuador and Bolivia, he lead a government that for the first time in recent history was not in the back pocket of the moneyed elites, a government that took serious investment in health, education, infrastructure, housing and other social programs.   That the financing of social programs depended to a large degree on revenue from petroleum is a factor that does not negate the successes achieved in these areas.

What North Americans are not for the most part going to hear or understand are the emotional reactions that I am witnessing here in Ecuador.  When you are poor and struggling to survive on a day to day basis, when you are aware to some degree or another the injustices that are responsible for your daily suffering; then when there arises a person of influence and power and charisma and fluency who shines light and gives credibility to your deepest concerns, you are given the precious gift of hope, dignity and pride.

Hugo Chávez delivered such to not only the people of Venezuela, but to all of Latin America and throughout the world who suffer from the heartless hand of either national or international capital and the imperial governments who back them up with overwhelming economic and military power.

Hugo Chávez was not in my mind a genuine Marxist revolutionary.  I don’t think it is possible to be both genuinely revolutionary and at the same time administer a government in a world where the rule of capital is universal.  But to denigrate his achievements on that basis would be a case of unfairly splitting hairs.  Like Chile’s Allende his government was as revolutionary as could be expected, and like Allende he engendered the hatred of the owning classes and the cowardly and sycophantic media and political classes that serve them.

In death Hugo Chávez will become bigger even than he was in life; and that is both just and understandable.  For his greatest contribution, beyond the social achievements of his government and his courage in standing up to the Goliath Uncle Sam, is the honesty, humility and transparency he radiated as a human being and the hope and inspiration that his words and actions have given and will continue to give to those around the globe who struggle for justice, equality and dignity.

As millions of Latin Americans are saying today: “RIP, Comandante!”

Anne Hollander: 100 Year Anniversary December 19, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in A: Roger's Original Essays, Current Posts, Women.
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4 comments

My mother, Anne Korabiak Zalepsky Hollander, was born in Newark, New Jersey on December 25, 1912.  She passed away in Sewickley, Pennsylvania on April 14, 2007.  My mother, born of  Ukrainian immigrants, like so many women of her generation, never had the chance to fully develop her potential.  She was one of those ordinary extraordinary women whose heroism, mostly family oriented, goes largely unrecognized.

Next Tuesday, December 25, 2012, will be the 100th anniversary of her birth.

If you can avoid it, try not to be born on Christmas Day.  No matter how attentive the family — and we never failed to have a cake — it is inevitable that your birthday will be at least partially sacrificed to the mania of holiday celebrations.  That is why I am posting this in her honor well in advance of Christmas Day.

Upon her death, I wrote this eulogy:

June 1928

June 1928

 

Anne with Baby Roger

Anne with Baby Roger

 

Anne in San Luis Obispo

Anne in San Luis Obispo

 

I REMEMBER MAMA

Don’t bother to look her up on Google.  The only Google she knew would have been “Barney Google with the Goo Goo Googley Eyes.”  Nevertheless, the memory of her magnificent life supersedes my grief at her loss and compels me to express this public remembrance.

 

She was born on Christmas Day, 1912.  When her own mother became permanently incapacitated she had to drop out of the sixth grade at the age of twelve in Newark, New Jersey in order to become the “homemaker” for a tyrannical old-country father and her four brothers, three of them younger.  She eloped to Elkton, Maryland (the “Reno of the East” at that time) on New Year’s Eve, 1933 at the age of twenty-one, as much to escape her quasi-feudal home life as for the love of a man whom she had only recently met; but something was right, for her marriage to my father lasted nearly seventy years.

 

Is it significant that with a fifth grade education she became an active leader and president of the local PTA in Irvington, New Jersey?  Does it mean anything that in the “pre-feminist” forties and fifties she taught me to sew and knit and cook?  Is there something special about the fact that, when my school project on the Netherlands had the sixth grade boys making wooden figures in Wood Shop and the girls Dutch dolls out of old stockings in Home Ec., she marched into the principal’s office at Augusta Street School to successfully advocate for my wish to make a doll along with the girls?  (I slept securely with little Dutch “Jan” into my early adolescence).

 

I know that I am not the first nor will I be the last person with a desire to publicly eulogize a beloved parent who may not possess any of the standard claims to fame.  Call me quixotic, but I honestly believe that my mother, Anne Korabiak Hollander, merits a posthumous moment of sublime recognition.  She was extraordinarily extraordinary despite the absence of a claim in her lifetime even to those iconic fifteen minutes.  Beyond what she has meant to myself and my brother, to her four grandchildren (two professors at state universities, the others a freelance journalist and a professional musician) and ten great grandchildren; her grace, her absolute absence of malice, her generosity of spirit, her purity of heart, and a simple and wholesome loving nature sets her apart from anyone else I have ever known.  In her last years, despite debilitating chronic illness and a deep feeling of loneliness from being separated from most of her family, scattered around the globe, in assisted living at Garden Creek in San Luis Obispo and finally at the Masonic Village Nursing Home in Pennsylvania, her winning smile and cheerful attitude brought solace and comfort to all those around her, staff as well as fellow patients.  She was universally adored, loved and respected.  If that is not worthy of some sort of special recognition, I don’t know what is.

 

It must have been sometime in the late 1940’s that our family spent the day at Coney Island.  I have two distinct memories of that day: Nathan’s hot dogs and the Parachute Jump ride.  I was fearless in those days, and no amount of bribery or cajolery was able to convince me to pass up the big jump.  William Styron in “Sophie’s Choice,” recounts Sophie’s delight in that very same parachute jump ride that is eerily akin to my own, the ride was a relic of the 1939 World’s Fair and 200 feet in high.  My memory insists that it was at 500 feet.  In any case, there was no question that I would not be allowed to take the big plunge all by myself.  The problem was that the male members of the group, my father and my older brother, politely yet firmly begged off.  That left my mother, who, concealing the terror that any sane adult would have at such folly, agreed to be my companion for the big dive in the sky.

 

It began with a slow rise to a height of nearly two football fields (I’m sticking with my version of the height, for, even if my memory is not literally accurate in the mathematical sense, taking into account my age and size, the thing subjectively was higher than the Empire State Building).  The first part of the drop was actual, literal free-fall.  I cannot remember the formula for acceleration that I later learned in high school Physics, but I can tell you that we were dropping pretty darn fast, and, of course, this being my virgin plunge, I had no idea if or how the free-fall was ever going to somehow abate and thereby prevent an inevitable and fatal crash onto the Boardwalk below.  When the cable did catch and we floated to the bottom, I think I had come as close as it is possible to experience death and re-birth.  And there, with my mother, Anne Korabiak Hollander, faithfully, loyally, lovingly – and shaking like a leaf – at my side.

 

When in 1987 I was considering a major change in my life by moving from Toronto to Ecuador, I consulted with both my daughters, my brother and my parents for their opinion.  This involved travel to Pittsburgh and California.  In Reseda, California, at the home which my parents had purchased in 1955 and where they completed their nearly 70 years of companionship, I spoke of my plans with my father and mother. They had always supported me in any situation, many of them difficult.  Thankfully, for only a short time, I became an insufferably aggressive evangelical Christian and nearly drove my parents crazy with my obnoxious if sincere efforts to save them from eternal perdition,  Then as an undergraduate I morphed into a student radical and elicited an irate public response from Clark Kerr, renowned President of the University of California, when as a member of the Student Council I vigorously challenged his restrictive policies with respect to on-campus speech, and  my parents were certain I was going to be expelled.  Finally, I created considerable anxiety for them by violating the Selective Service Act and exiling myself to Canada in 1968 in protest of the Vietnam War, at which time, when the F.B.I. came around inquiring about me, my parents politely told them to get lost.  It is worth noting that my father worked in the sensitive aerospace industry at the time.

 

On that day in late 1987 when I solicited their opinion on my planned move to Ecuador, my father’s face, in spite of his supportive words, showed concern and disappointment about my decision to locate so far from “home.”  Perfectly understandable.  My mother, on the other hand, didn’t miss a beat in saying, “Roger, I believe in doing your own thing.”  I had never heard this kind of language before from my mother, and my immediate response was, “Mother, you sound like a Hippie.”  Again, without missing a beat she came back with, “Roger, I am a Hippie.”  She would have been 74 years of age at the time.

 

For reasons of which I doubt she was ever consciously aware, my mother fostered and nurtured the feminine in me (in counterpoint to my Boy Scout and sports activities, which was my father’s bailiwick), and for this I am forever grateful.  Because both of circumstance and the time in which she lived, she never had the chance to fully “march to the tune of her own drummer,” to explore and to bring to realization the greater part of her enormous potential, but she came as close to it as she possibly could, never once whining or complaining; and she passed on that priceless gift to my brother and to me.

 

I am not unaware that there are millions of women around the world whose heroism is expressed daily through slavish housework, profound personal sacrifice of their own comfort and well-being and constant worrying for the feeding and protection of their children and other family and loved ones.  Every one is special, no more or no less than my mother.

 

But having been privileged to have been her son, naturally, I remember Mama.

 

My mother, Anne Korabiak Hollander, passed away peacefully in her sleep at the age of 94 in Sewickley, Pennsylvania in the first hour of Saturday, April 14, 2007.

 

 

 

 

ALL GOD’S CHILDREN December 16, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in A: Roger's Original Essays, Gun Control/Violence.
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I was thinking about putting up a post with a headline about the Newtown massacre, but illustrated with photos of the children murdered by US drone missiles.  I decided not to do this because it didn’t feel right or respectful to be making a political point on the deaths of those tragic Sandy Hook children.

Nevertheless, I believe it has to be noted that the nation which (rightfully so) goes into profound mourning for the child victims of this insanity, has an obligation to take note of and do something about the children in Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, etc. who are massacred with drone missiles paid for with their tax dollars and sent by a government they elected.  It is natural and understandable that we pay more attention to what is in our immediate neighborhood.  Nonetheless, the United States calls itself a democracy, and its citizens have a responsibility which goes beyond its national borders.  And those religious fanatics (who are today in the political and media mainstream) who claim that the US is or should be a Christian nation ironically and hypocritically tend to be those who go overboard in the protection of our children while ignoring and supporting the policies that lead to the destruction of “God’s children” who are non-white or live in foreign lands.

Noam Chomsky makes the distinction between retail and wholesale terrorism, characterizing US government foreign warfare in the latter category.  The sociopathic and/or psychopathic killers from Columbine to Arizona to Norway to Colorado to Newtown, Connecticut who target innocent civilians, including children, are one thing.  The government/military/CIA tossing unmanned predator missiles at civilian populations is another.

As we mourn those senselessly massacred at Sandy Hook we have an obligation not to forget those massacred in our name around the globe.

 

I REMEMBER MAMA May 13, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in A: Roger's Original Essays.
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ROGER’S NOTE: I WROTE THIS EULOGY FOR MY MOTHER SHORTLY AFTER HER DEATH IN 2007.  THE TITLE COMES FROM THAT WONDERFUL 1950S TELEVISION SHOW ABOUT THE LIFE OF A NORWEGIAN IMMIGRANT FAMILY LIVING IN SAN FRANCISCO (DERIVED FROM THE BROADWAY PLAY STARING IRENE DUNN IN THE TITLE ROLE AND WITH A CAST THAT INCLUDED BARBARA BEL GEDDES, EDGAR BERGEN, SIR CEDRIC HARDWICKE AND RUDY VALLEE)  THE TELEVISION VERSION FEATURED PEGGY WOOD, WHO HAS BEEN DESCRIBED AS ONE OF THE WARMEST CHARACTERS EVER TO GRACE TELEVISION, IN THE TITLE ROLE.  ALSO IN THE CAST WERE ROBIN MORGAN, THE FUTURE FEMINIST AUTHOR,  AS DAGMAR AND DICK VAN PATTEN AS NELS.  ALONG WITH  MOLLY GOLDBERG, PEGGY WOOD’S MAMA HAD A PROFOUND INFLUENCE ON MY UNDERSTANDING AND APPRECIATION OF WOMENHOOD AND MOTHERHOOD, AS THEY PORTRAYED STRONG INDEPENDENT GOOD HUMORED TOLERANT AND CARING CHARACTERS WHILE AT THE SAME TIME AVOIDING THE SACCHARINE  ESCAPE FROM REALISM THAT CHARACTERIZED THE 1950S.

 

I REMEMBER MAMA

 

Don’t bother to look her up on Google.  The only Google she knew would have been “Barney Google with the Goo Goo Googley Eyes.”  Nevertheless, the memory of her magnificent life supersedes my grief at her loss and compels me to express this public remembrance.

 

She was born on Christmas Day, 1912.  When her own mother became permanently incapacitated she had to drop out of the sixth grade at the age of twelve in Newark, New Jersey in order to become the “homemaker” for a tyrannical old-country father and her four brothers, three of them younger.  She eloped to Elkton, Maryland (the “Reno of the East” at that time) on New Year’s Eve, 1933 at the age of twenty-one, as much to escape her quasi-feudal home life as for the love of a man whom she had only recently met; but something was right, for her marriage to my father lasted nearly seventy years.

 

Is it significant that with a fifth grade education she became an active leader and president of the local PTA in Irvington, New Jersey?  Does it mean anything that in the “pre-feminist” forties and fifties she taught me to sew and knit and cook?  Is there something special about the fact that, when my school project on the Netherlands had the sixth grade boys making wooden figures in Wood Shop and the girls Dutch dolls out of old stockings in Home Ec., she marched into the principal’s office at Augusta Street School to successfully advocate for my wish to make a doll along with the girls?  (I slept securely with little Dutch “Jan” into my early adolescence).

 

I know that I am not the first nor will I be the last person with a desire to publicly eulogize a beloved parent who may not possess any of the standard claims to fame.  Call me quixotic, but I honestly believe that my mother, Anne Korabiak Hollander, merits a posthumous moment of sublime recognition.  She was extraordinarily extraordinary despite the absence of a claim in her lifetime even to those iconic fifteen minutes.  Beyond what she has meant to myself and my brother, to her four grandchildren (two professors at state universities, the others a freelance journalist and a professional musician) and ten great grandchildren; her grace, her absolute absence of malice, her generosity of spirit, her purity of heart, and a simple and wholesome loving nature sets her apart from anyone else I have ever known.  In her last years, despite debilitating chronic illness and a deep feeling of loneliness from being separated from most of her family, scattered around the globe, in assisted living at Garden Creek in San Luis Obispo and finally at the Masonic Village Nursing Home in Pennsylvania, her winning smile and cheerful attitude brought solace and comfort to all those around her, staff as well as fellow patients.  She was universally adored, loved and respected.  If that is not worthy of some sort of special recognition, I don’t know what is.

 

It must have been sometime in the late 1940’s that our family spent the day at Coney Island.  I have two distinct memories of that day: Nathan’s hot dogs and the Parachute Jump ride.  I was fearless in those days, and no amount of bribery or cajolery was able to convince me to pass up the big jump.  William Styron in “Sophie’s Choice,” recounts Sophie’s delight in that very same parachute jump ride that is eerily akin to my own, the ride was a relic of the 1939 World’s Fair and 200 feet in high.  My memory insists that it was at 500 feet.  In any case, there was no question that I would not be allowed to take the big plunge all by myself.  The problem was that the male members of the group, my father and my older brother, politely yet firmly begged off.  That left my mother, who, concealing the terror that any sane adult would have at such folly, agreed to be my companion for the big dive in the sky.

 

It began with a slow rise to a height of nearly two football fields (I’m sticking with my version of the height, for, even if my memory is not literally accurate in the mathematical sense, taking into account my age and size, the thing subjectively was higher than the Empire State Building).  The first part of the drop was actual, literal free-fall.  I cannot remember the formula for acceleration that I later learned in high school Physics, but I can tell you that we were dropping pretty darn fast, and, of course, this being my virgin plunge, I had no idea if or how the free-fall was ever going to somehow abate and thereby prevent an inevitable and fatal crash onto the Boardwalk below.  When the cable did catch and we floated to the bottom, I think I had come as close as it is possible to experience death and re-birth.  And there, with my mother, Anne Korabiak Hollander, faithfully, loyally, lovingly – and shaking like a leaf – at my side.

 

When in 1987 I was considering a major change in my life by moving from Toronto to Ecuador, I consulted with both my daughters, my brother and my parents for their opinion.  This involved travel to Pittsburgh and California.  In Reseda California, at the home which my parents had purchased in 1955 and where they completed their nearly 70 years of companionship, I spoke of my plans with my father and mother. They had always supported me in any situation, many of them difficult.  Thankfully, for only a short time, I became an insufferably aggressive evangelical Christian and nearly drove my parents crazy with my obnoxious if sincere efforts to save them from eternal perdition,  Then as an undergraduate I morphed into a student radical and elicited an irate public response from Clark Kerr, renowned President of the University of California, when as a member of the Student Council I vigorously challenged his restrictive policies with respect to on-campus speech, and  my parents were certain I was going to be expelled.  Finally, I created considerable anxiety for them by violating the Selective Service Act and exiling myself to Canada in 1968 in protest of the Vietnam War, at which time, when the F.B.I. came around enquiring about me, my parents politely told them to get lost.  It is worth noting that my father worked in the sensitive aerospace industry at the time.

 

On that day in late 1987 when I solicited their opinion on my planned move to Ecuador, my father’s face, in spite of his supportive words, showed concern and disappointment about my decision to locate so far from “home.”  Perfectly understandable.  My mother, on the other hand, didn’t miss a beat in saying, “Roger, I believe in doing your own thing.”  I had never heard this kind of language before from my mother, and my immediate response was, “Mother, you sound like a Hippie.”  Again, without missing a beat she came back with, “Roger, I am a Hippie.”  She would have been 74 years of age at the time.

 

For reasons of which I doubt she was ever consciously aware, my mother fostered and nurtured the feminine in me (in counterpoint to my Boy Scout and sports activities, which was my father’s bailiwick), and for this I am forever grateful.  Because both of circumstance and the time in which she lived, she never had the chance to fully “march to the tune of her own drummer,” to explore and to bring to realization the greater part of her enormous potential, but she came as close to it as she possibly could, never once whining or complaining; and she passed on that priceless gift to my brother and to me.

 

I am not unaware that there are millions of women around the world whose heroism is expressed daily through slavish housework, profound personal sacrifice of their own comfort and well-being and constant worrying for the feeding and protection of their children and other family and loved ones.  Every one is special, no more or no less than my mother.

 

But having been privileged to have been her son, naturally, I remember Mama.

 

My mother, Anne Korabiak Hollander, passed away peacefully in her sleep at the age of 94 in Sewickley, Pennsylvania in the first hour of Saturday, April 14, 2007.

 

 

Jesus lives: April Fool! April 1, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in About Religion, Democracy, Religion, Socialism.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

Roger Hollander, April 1, 2012, www.rogerhollander.wordpress.com

If capital G God exists (capital I if),  He/She/It has given us a little ironic treat in having Palm Sunday fall on April Fools day this year.

When I think of Palm Sunday and the monstrosity known at the Roman Catholic Church and the other world religions, with the possible few exceptions of the Asian  religions, I think of the phrase “cross my palm with silver.”

The air-tight relationship between accumulated wealth (in our era, capital) and organized religion is a historic reality.  There is in fact good reason to believe that the first division of labor creating a privileged class in previously classless tribal society, was that of the first shamans or priests converting their credibility into political and economic power, which they used to control and manipulate.

The young 26-year-old Karl Marx, in his 1844 Manuscripts wrote about religion in a handful of paragraphs that include his famous and taken out of context “opiate of the masses.”

Religious suffering is at the same time an expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of men, is a demand for their real happiness. The call to abandon their illusions about their condition is a call to abandon a condition which requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, the embryonic criticism of this vale of tears of which religion is the halo.

Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers from the chain, not in order that man shall bear the chain without caprice or consolation but so that he shall cast off the chain and pluck the living flower. The criticism of religion disillusions man so that he will think, act and fashion his reality as a man who has lost his illusions and regained his reason; so that he will revolve about himself as his own true sun. Religion is only the illusory sun about which man revolves so long as he does not revolve about himself.

… thus the criticism of heaven is transformed into the criticism of earth, the criticism of religion into the criticism of law, and the criticism of theology into the criticism of politics.

From: “Contributions to the  Critique  of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right,”  in   “Karl Marx: Early Writings,” translated and edited by T. B. Bottomore, McGraw Hill, 1964, pages 43, 44.

This I consider to be a manifesto for secular humanism, of which I am a proud advocate.  Who can deny that the very existence of our biosphere is in danger from escalating warfare and environmental catastrophe.  Those who advocate looking outside of humankind to some sort of God to take us out of this mess are the very same religious institutions that promote and indoctrinate obeisance to the vast accumulations of wealth that capitalist economic relations generate.

Shakespeare via Cassius:“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves …”

Today it is more evident than ever that political democracy is little more than a farce in a capitalist world.  Vast accumulated wealth (which is what capital is)  plus the military and political power it purchases with that very wealth is what rules in every nation on earth, not the “demos” (people) of democracy.  In a word, political democracy without economic democracy is not genuine democracy.

The destruction of capitalist economic relations and replacement with economic democracy (genuine socialism, not state capitalism calling itself socialist as in China, Cuba, Venezuela, etc.) where those of us who create wealth share in it equally, is a Monmouth and daunting task (given especially enormous state power and means of repression).  But it is the only long-term solution to the world crisis in which we live.  In the light of this reality, a vote for Obama or a prayer to whatever god, can do no more than any other opiate, that is, create illusory and useless hope.

To show that I am not a blind hater of Christianity, let me cite one of my favorite biblical quotes, that of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13, where he states that: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”  My belief is that in the individual human dimension, love is the highest notion; and at the communal/social level, love is no more or less than social, political and economic justice, that is, socialism.

 

 

 

Dawkins’ “The God Delusion:” a Must Read September 17, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in About God, About Religion, Religion, Science and Technology.
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Roger Hollander, September 17, 2011

I am re-reading Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion,” one of the most important reads for me in the past years.  If you are a fan of science and reason over ignorance and prejudice, you will love Dawkins.  He is a world-class scientist (evolutionary biologist), but his prose is both literate and replete with humor, and his scientific explanations are for the most part understandable for the lay person.  A quotation he attributes to Fred Hoyle almost says it all.  When Hoyle refused to give an educated opinion to an interviewer who asked him to speculate about life on other planets, the interviewer asked him for his gut feeling.  Hoyle replied that he tries not to think with his gut.

I have reviewed “The God Delusion” elsewhere on this blog (http://rogerhollander.wordpress.com/category/current-posts/a-rogers-original-essays/about-religion/), here I will just give you a taste of some of the many little gems you will find in this outstanding work.

I begin with this quote from a United States Senator:

“There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs.  There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls the supreme being.  But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly.  The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom.  They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 per cent.  If you disagree with these religious groups  on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both.  I am frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person  must belive in A, B, C or D.  Just who do they think they are?  And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate.  I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans … “

At the end of this essay I will give you the name of the Senator who make this statement.  Take a guess.

Here are the mottos of the two major divisions in Christianity:

“There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger.  This is the disease of curiosity.  It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn.”  St. Augustine

“Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the Divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God … Whoever wants to be a Christian should tear the eyes out of his reason.”  Martin Luther

As for humor:

In Northern Ireland: “Yes but are you a Catholic atheist or a Protestant atheist?”

Citing a comedian: “All religions are the same.  Religion is guilt, with different holidays.”

You will learn from Dawkins a lot about Darwin and natural selection.  You will watch him obliterate the arguments of the so-called “creationists” and the weasels who try to disguise creationism as “intelligent design.”  He will make you think twice if you think that agnosticism makes more sense than atheism; and he will show you the distinction between the notion of a God Creator who continues to intervene in creation, and what he refers to “Einsteinian religion,” the awe inspired by knowledge of the amazing universe we inhabit.

And he has an answer for you if you argue that you have a religious belief in God but not the kind of ridiculous belief in a God with a beard in the Sky and a literal interpretation of the Bible.  The answer is that you can call yourself religious or Christian, but the overwhelming majority of those who call themselves Christian (or Jewish or Muslim) do believe in that Personal God who created it all and continues to communicate with us and intervene where He chooses (and not to intervene where He chooses not (Pope John Paul II, when he suffered an assassination attempt in Rome, attributed his survival  to intervention of Our Lady of Fatima: “a maternal hand guided the bullet.”  Watkins wonders why she didn’t guide the bullet to miss him entirely, and he speaks up for giving credit to the surgeons who operated for six hours to save him.  He also wonders why the Lady of Fatima, and whether the Ladies of Guadalupe, Medjugorje, Akita, Zeitoun and Garabandal were too busy at the time to lend a hand).

Now here is the name of the Senator who is responsible for the quote complaining about the pressures from organized religion.  You were wrong if you guessed a liberal like Ted Kennedy or Al Franken.  The answer is: Barry Goldwater, and he ended the quote as follows: “… I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of conservatism.” (emphasis added).

And, oh yes, my favorite one liner of them all: “Blasphemy is a victemless crime.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wall September 10, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in About God, Art, Literature and Culture, Religion.
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Stephen Hawking tells us now that there is no need for a Creater  God.  The believers say he’s missed the point.

Here’s my take on the subject.

The Wall

( by Roger Hollander)

Ok, infinity

Then what about infinity plus one?

Ok, a Creator

But who created the Creator

And who created the Creator of the Creator

Ad infinitum

Infinitum plus one?

Ok, time

What was there before the first day?

But a day is nothing more than how long it takes the earth to revolve on its own axis

It has no meaning anywhere else

Before the first second?

A second is a sixtieth of a minute, which is a sixtieth of an hour

Which is a twenty-fourth of how long  it takes for the earth to revolve on its own axis

We are earthbound

Even as we go out into space, gravity sucked by the earth binds time and matter to it

The earth, one tiny dot in the universe

(What is there on the other side of the universe?  Dumb question)

The Wall

We keep hitting the Wall

One grain of sand, what percentage is it of the entire universe’s matter?

(Our most powerful computer can bust its guts on that one)

Awesome

Awe-some

Some awe

It’s one big Mystery

Protected by an insurmountable Wall

(What if I climbed over the Wall? Another dumb question)

You cannot know

Some say they know

What do they know?

What do they know?

I don’t know

It’s a Mystery

Protected by an insurmountable Wall

(Look up the definition of insurmountable, dumbbell)

It’s a Mystery

Let it be

Live with it

(Die with it)

Getting to the Root of a Sick System August 24, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in About Health, Health, Socialism.
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by Roger Hollander

Review of Sick and Sicker: Essays on Class, Health and Health Care by Susan Rosenthal (2010) 

http://susanrosenthal.com/sick-and-sicker 

for the Amazon kindle edition: http://www.amazon.com/SICK-SICKER-Essays-Health-ebook/dp/B003PPDHSE/

It is one of the great tragedies of contemporary human existence that the massive suffering that results from world-wide poverty and sickness is entirely unnecessary.  Through past and present collective human productive creativity there exists sufficient wealth that the entire population of the planet should be able to live securely, free of economic deprivation and its derivatives (e.g. hunger, sickness, war, environmental degradation, etc.).  But, as we know, the reality is otherwise.

The small but elite community who benefit from the profoundly unequal status quo (the tiny percentage who own and control massive accumulated wealth – i.e. capital) and the sycophantic community that follows in its wake (political pundits, organized religions, the corporate mass media, bought-and-paid-for academics, well-paid professionals, professional cynics, etc.) argue that world suffering is an unfortunate but inevitable product of unchangeable human nature and a scarcity of resources.

In Dr. Susan Rosenthal’s new book, Sick and Sicker: Essays on Class, Health and Health Care,  a chapter entitled “The Myth of Scarcity” provides evidence that collectively-working human beings produce more than enough for everyone to live in relative comfort.  “If the total wealth produced by American workers in 2003,” she points out, for example, “had been shared [equally], every US … family of four would have received $152,000 in that year alone … [and a] much larger [share] if it included a share of the wealth produced in the past.” 

Rosenthal goes on to show the unconscionable disparity in the distribution of our collective wealth: “The top five percent of individuals in the world receive about one-third of total world income.  The top 10 percent get one-half of world income, and the bottom 10 percent only 0.7 percent of it. Within 48 hours, the richest people acquire more than the poorest people earn in a year.” 

“Capitalism,” she concludes, “is not about sharing.”

Critical thinkers contend that the fundamental cause of social and economic inequality is not found in  “human nature,” God’s will, or scarce resources but resides in the concrete reality of historically-determined unequal social relations, that is, the unequal relation between those whose labor creates wealth and that small minority of capitalists who own it.  This is a social structure created by human beings, and therefore subject to change by human action.  They argue that a new society based upon human values rather than economic profit is not just a Utopian dream but rather the only alternative to the destruction of our species and the biosphere we inhabit.

While Rosenthal is clearly among this tradition of critical thinkers, there is something I find in her approach that sets her apart from many others.  Her insight stems from a wealth of personal experience, and she writes with a passion that is palpable. One senses righteous anger in her words.  The very first sentence in Sick and Sicker reads, “What does it mean to strive for health in a sick society run by psychopaths?” 

Rosenthal explains that she entered the medical profession in order to help people, but after decades of immersing herself in the “details of people’s miseries,” she saw “a pattern emerge – an exploitive and heartless system was making people sick, the medical system was blaming them for being sick, and funding agencies were moaning about the cost of caring for the sick.  I had wanted to be an agent of health, but I had become an agent of damage control for an utterly damaging social system.”

At first blush, one might accuse Rosenthal of hyperbole (“a sick society run by psychopaths”!) and dismiss her as someone whose anger has clouded her objectivity.  But the reader who takes the trouble to go further will discover a passion that is grounded firmly in reason.  Sick and Sicker is a work of carefully structured logical arguments buttressed by extensive and meticulous documentation to support her central thesis, which is that “social inequality affects the health of populations more than any other factor,” and that such inequality is a product of a profit-driven capitalist economic system.

In her first book, POWER and Powerlessness (2006), Rosenthal referred to a class of social critics who produce marvelous studies characterized by biting criticisms of the status quo, studies that document social inequality and its effects, but then go on to offer vague and generalized “solutions” that call for more study, education, the changing of attitudes, etc. –  that is, anything but go to the heart of the problem because that is the greatest taboo in the academic world.  Rosenthal’s work shatters that taboo.  A radical thinker is one whose task is not finished until she gets to the root of the problem.

For in order to understand a reality with the objective of changing it (for the better!), one must go beyond analytic description of that reality to ascertain what is the cause.  Having said this however, let me assure you that the reader whose primary interest is understanding our health-care system and how it  functions will not be disappointed by this book. 

Rosenthal addresses questions of how health care is delivered (assembly-line medicine), how it is financed, the roles of private and state sponsored health insurance, different models of rationing health-care resources, a comparison of health care in the U.S and Canada, and how the notion of mental health “disorders” and psychiatry relate to the  pharmaceutical industry. She includes a “dialogue” between the author and Frederick Engels, who “was the first to connect a broad number of medical and social problems to the way capitalism is organized” and ends by recounting  democratizing health-care reforms in Chile under the Allende government and how and why they were reversed by the Pinochet dictatorship.

The chapter in Sick and Sicker that compares medical systems in the United States and Canada goes a long way towards putting in perspective the recent farce of Obama’s so-called health care reform in the U.S. At the same time it helps us to understand that Canada’s (deteriorating) system of universal health insurance is another way of rationing health care and why it falls far short of achieving the goal of free and accessible comprehensive health care for all.

Mental-health professionals will find challenges and psychiatric survivors will find resonance in the chapter on mental illness.  Rosenthal shows how the mental-health structure serves as a mechanism of social control under the false guise of scientific medicine. She describes psychiatry as “a pseudoscience – ideology disguised as science” where “mental disorders” are defined by whatever behavioral criteria the psychiatric profession chooses, as opposed to the biological markers that form the basis of scientific medicine. She shows how separating the brain from the mind, the body, and – most importantly – the social context, results in casting the blame for mental illness on those who suffer rather than on the stresses of life in a society characterized by ever deepening social and economic crises.  “Mental distress becomes the problem to be treated, not the social conditions that create distress … To serve a sick system, psychiatry extracts the individual from society, splits the brain from the body, severs the mind from the brain and drugs the brain.”

Sick and Sicker is nothing less than a scathing indictment of our medical systems and the social and economic structures of the society that they serve. Apologists for the status quo and reformists who dismiss calls for fundamental structural change will always find ways to rationalize, discredit or simply ignore such penetrating analysis.  However, for the millions in North America and the billions around the world who face the reality of inadequate health care on a daily basis , Dr. Rosenthal has performed a valiant and worthy service.

Supporting Obama’s Health Bill: Lesser of Evils or Pact with the Devil? March 23, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in About Health, Health.
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No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. [37] And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. [38] No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.

Luke 5: 37-39

Roger Hollander, March 23, 2010

www.rogerhollander.com

The health industry stocks shot up once the bill passed.  More than anything else that tells us who stands to benefit.

What I find so frustrating is the notion, prevalent amongst Obama’s supporters, that by adding a few new benefits (some of which may or may not happen) to a totally corrupt system, somehow you have moved forward.  The Obamites badly needed a political victory, and they were willing to sell out not only their “progressive base,” as many have mentioned, but the vast majority of Americans who want, need and deserve a single-payer national plan.  Not to mention the roll back on a woman’s right to choose and such things as cruel, costly and stupid restrictions on undocumented immigrants buying health insurance.  

Perhaps the biggest irony is that the Republicans are attacking the bill as “socialistic” when in fact it is just the opposite.  The Republicans are making the right criticism (the government forcing people to buy private insurance, something that actually is right up their alley) for the wrong reason (trash the Democrats regardless of the issue).  Inwardly they are rejoicing at the bill’s entrenchment of private insurance with no public option while outwardly they are indignant at the “socialist” imposition of health insurance.  A win-win situation for them.

The Democrats might as well have put in a single-payer plan, which of course they didn’t not because they chose the wrong strategy, but because they just as much as the Republicans are owned by the corporate insurance and pharmaceutical industries. 

But it is the facile notion that a few crumbs are better than nothing that is staggering in its naïveté and its failure to realize that you do not pour new wine into old wineskins, that in so doing you may (may!) make some small gains at the cost of the ultimate objective.

To those who acknowledge that a single-payer, medicare-for-all plan is the only genuine solution, but that sometimes you have to settle for the lesser of evils, I suggest that there is a difference between the lesser of evils and a Faustian bargain with the Devil.

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