Do those who live in a democratic state take their freedoms for granted? How does the behavior we exhibit when we travel outside our home country reflect national and cultural values? The following personal history piece is a sketch of life under two brutal dictatorships: François Duvalier (“Poppa Doc)” of Haiti and Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic. Vacationing here in 1961, the author narrowly avoided being shot. “A Tale of Two Dictatorships” records a one-day experience with two very strange American tourists. They should be a lesson on how not to behave abroad.
Leadership uses power and influence to affect societal change. While socialized power is used by elected officials to benefit the majority of the people, personalized power is used for personal gain. In general, power can encourage leaders to act with assertion and confidence to make decisions, but it can also encourage leaders to focus on their own egocentric desires the more they become “intoxicated” with it. Historically, many countries have seen dictators, tyrants, and totalitarian or authoritarian rulers. But what encourages some leaders to fall into this power-hunger behavior pattern while others do not?
In the popular mind, older generations are generally more conservative and younger ones more open-minded and willing to embrace change. It’s a dynamic often played out in popular culture — think of the conservative administrators in Dead Poets Society who don’t take well to an upstart professor with an unconventional approach to teaching young minds. The modern history of the United States is a primer in the tension between generational values. The baby-boomer generation (the hippies and protestors and activists) are widely seen as having broken free of the traditional ethos handed down by elders and as having applied idealism and passion in the name of promoting peace and building a better world. But the real picture is far more complex than the stereotypes. In some cases, members of the younger generation turned out to be more conservative than their elders. The following family history challenges generational stereotypes by describing how a mother, who lived in New York at a time of radical upheaval, found a very different political identity from that of her progressive mother.
September 11th shook a nation — it still haunts the USA today. This memoir piece marks an emotional journey, and the physical complication of flying a few days after the terrorist attack to a memorial service of someone killed in the second plane. It is a reminder that life is temporary, and to live fully despite this.
What experiences shape our life trajectories and sense of self? What roles do family heritage, state formation, and linguistic and cultural barriers have in creating a person? Are we just byproducts of events and nature, both outside our control? The following personal essay focuses on the author’s background as a refugee from the former Yugoslavia and makes the case for why we should think of the ‘refugee experience’ as a distinct category from the larger ‘immigrant experience.’ The author argues that because refugees are forcibly displaced from their home countries, they have a unique relationship both to the places from which they had to leave as well as the places in which they ultimately end up.
How does art act as an indication of societal upheaval? This unique piece combines personal narrative and art history to remind us the roles we play are often conditioned by the structures we rail against.
Is the future of humanity threatened by scientific and technological advancements? In the merging of man with machines, is our collective earthly and worldly human condition endangered? What will we become if and when we are not bound by this earth?