We Are Our Works: Anthea Syrokou Responds

written by Anthea Syrokou

[Publisher’s Note: In my recent, David Boles: Human Meme, podcast entitled — “We Are Our Works” — loyal listener Anthea Syrokou wrote a smart, and thoughtful, response to that piece of work and, with her permission, we share her fine mind…

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My Almost Mom (For Ann)

by Nancy McDaniel

Not my mother
Nor my stepmother
Nor even an official godmother
But my “almost mom”
Who has loved me for over 60 years
I’m an “almost sister” to her two sons
For those same 60 years.

Maybe better than a “real” mom
Because we are first of all friends
I can talk to her more honestly and openly
Than I could to any of my “other” moms

Laughing over silly mistakes
That we each make
Or things we both forget
Helping each other with projects
Reminiscing about old recipes, old parties
And funny stories from 50 years ago:

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World Bicycle Relief: Africa Rides into Zambia

by Nancy McDaniel

Many people who go to Africa for the first time refer to it as a life-changing experience. I know that I felt and said that when I first went to Kenya on safari in 1987. I suppose it is hyperbole to say that each time I go back to the continent, it changes my life. It’s actually more of a re-affirmation. As I once said, when I am in Africa, whether on safari or in a rural area with local people, I am “the best me I can be.” I don’t know why; it just always happens. It is where I am the kindest, most interested, most engaged…  and happiest.

And it just happened again. I returned from two weeks in Zambia the end of July. I still think about this trip every day. I saw a water bottle attached to a bicycle yesterday and I got tears in my eyes (more on that later).

The Reason For The Trip
I have recently become aware of and involved with a wonderful Chicago-based not-for- profit organization called World Bicycle Relief. Their mission is brilliantly simple and simply brilliant: “World Bicycle Relief is a nonprofit organization transforming individuals and their communities through The Power of Bicycles.” I was planning to go to southern Africa anyway last summer and when I saw they were offering a trip called “Africa Rides” to visit their projects in Zambia, I decided to sign up.

Before I went, I started a Grassroots Fundraising Effort for WBR. My initial goal was to raise enough money to donate 10 bikes (at $134 each) which I would match, for a goal of 20 bikes ($2680).

I promised to send photos of kids and bikes when I got back; this appeal certainly worked! Due to the generosity of friends and the powerful appeal of this organization, my total was over $10,000 (that’s 75 bright new shiny Buffalo Bikes, especially designed and built for the uncompromising rough terrain of the rural areas where they would be living)

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Facebook as Virtual Small Town Commerce

Jamie Smith wrote this article.

When I was at breakfast recently with friends, the subject came up about Facebook and who uses it, what games do they play, etc. Interestingly enough, there were a few of us who were on Facebook, for various reasons; mainly to catch up with real actual friends that the user seldom saw or for reunion purposes, family and/or high school variety reunions; family tree research and the like.

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The Promise Under a Jacaranda Tree

Michelle Carter wrote this article.

Kona coffee and chocolate croissant in hand, I strolled out of my favorite café and continued down Carrillo Street toward Laguna. A tan, two-story, building on the right, and salmon hued stucco structure on the left, were familiar landmarks. As I crossed the street, I readied myself for the office with a wall of glass where there always sat a man at a desk in a shirt and tie. I felt uneasy in this part of my walk because it seemed I was entering his space uninvited.

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The Genius of Steve Gordon and Why Arthur 2 Was a Miss

Michelle Carter wrote this article.

Arthur! Arthur! Arthur! I can’t say it enough times. Ask me the name of my all-time favorite laugh-out-loud comedy and my answer will always be “Arthur.” What else can I say? I love this film. I am referring to the 1981 smash hit movie starring the lovable comic icon Dudley Moore, Tony award winning actress Liza Minnelli and the ever so elegant Oscar award winning thespian, Sir John Gielgud.

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Private Experience vs. Public Good

Chioma Uzoigwe wrote this article.

“The page comes alive in the life of the mind where it is given a unique private context coupled against a universally shared public concern for the condition of human suffering.” This quote symbolizes the process through which we battle back and forth between what we know vs. what is imparted to us through literature, or the private experience vs. the public good. This paper examines public health crises reflected in poetry, essays, fiction and dramatic literature and purports that the battle of the private experience vs. the public good is won when the private experience becomes the experience of the public good.

The private experience refers to that of the reader. Before reading a work of literature each individual holds within himself his own knowledge, opinions, and life experiences which an author can shape and alter. The author holds within his power the ability to make the reader see what he sees to influence a universal, public perception of his point of view. When the author is able to make the reader’s experience that of the universal experience, he succeeds in turning the reader’s private experience into that of the public good’s. To do this, the author must evoke one simple aspect of human feeling–sympathy. Sympathy is a powerful emotion; it capacitates us to understand the feelings of another. Valentine (1997) states, “Our proper sympathies are themselves rooted in standards of virtue that everyone can understand. This is how we are able to sympathize appropriately when another has been wronged, and check our sympathy for another who has done wrong.” Because everyone can understand the virtue, it is a universal way to effect change. Helen Keller put it best in her autobiography, The Story of My Life, “…our enjoyment of the great works of literature depends more upon the depth of our sympathy than upon our understanding.”

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