“Being Strong and Smart, Resilient and Relentless”


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On Sunday night, President Obama addressed the nation as an American leader we can depend on and who we can trust with a plan that is consistent with our cultural values.  He reassured us that we can defeat the terrorists “by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless, and by drawing upon every aspect of American power.”

Fear is in the air, where terrorists have created a sense that danger can exist anywhere.   The President asked people not to give into the fear and not to turn on each other as fear can spread to those who identify as Muslim.  We can not let this war with terrorists become staged as a war between Islam and the West.

The President shared the counterterrorism work that is being done by the United States to fight the Islamic State.  He called for tougher screening of travelers who come to the US without visas and he called for gun control.

“The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it.”  The President’s message was one of hope, to win over fear.  Some of the Presidential candidates, on the other hand, are flaming the fear, using this moment in our history to sound like a leader who is tougher and more capable of defeating the terrorists no matter what they would have to do to succeed.  Instead of hope, they offer us war, prejudice and isolation.

The president reminded us that success “won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values, or giving into fear. That’s what groups like ISIL are hoping for.”

What would help you feel safe?








How to Win the Information War


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A woman in Madrid holds a flier as part of January 2015 solidarity rallies after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. Others carried signs denouncing the attack and saying "Not in my name." (GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty)

One important way to defeat ISIS is by winning the war on information.

ISIS declares itself the rightful heir of the founders of Islam.  It considers itself at war with all people and nations who do not meet their standards as true Muslims.  It calls itself a caliphate, claiming to represent the entire Muslim community worldwide.  The idea of the caliphate evokes for many Muslims the idea of a glorious and unified Islamic civilization.

ISIS now has the most sophisticated propaganda machine of any terrorist organization, said Matthew Olsen, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center.  “It turns out timely, high-quality media, and it uses social media to secure a widespread following.”  With high-quality videos posted to YouTube, smartphone apps , online chat rooms, and Twitter/Facebook accounts sending messages in multiple languages, ISIS has become very good at using new tools in waging their information war.

To counter ISIS, one has to counter ISIS recruitment efforts and at the same time counter their ideology as the rightful heirs of Islam.  This calls for a  global public relations battle.

Muslim leaders have already started organizing or expanding prevention programs and discussions on countering violent extremism, often with assistance from law enforcement officials and trained counter-recruiters who emphasize the Internet’s dangers for young Muslims.

In addition, Muslim leaders need to educate and reclaim their understanding and interpretation of Islam.  “When asked ‘what is Islam?’ many of the ISIS fighters answered ‘my life.’ They knew nothing of the Quran or Hadith, but had learned of Islam from Al Qaeda and ISIS propaganda, teaching that Muslims like them were targeted for elimination unless they first eliminated the impure.

This illustrates the gap between real and imagined Islam.  It seems prudent to fill that gap with a global public relations campaign to provide positive, pluralistic and peaceful messages of Islam in mainstream media, in schools, mosques, public arenas and on social media platforms.

Muflehun, a think tank based in Washington focuses on countering violent extremism.  Visit their web site to get more information and give your support, muflehun.org.





Compassion vs Fear


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According to the United Nations, Syrians are now the world’s largest refugee population.  11 million Syrians have fled their homes in a country of 22 million people.  More than 250,000 people have died since the violence broke out in Syria in 2011.

Is shunning refugees the answer to combating terror?  One could argue that fear is the response the terrorists hope they have achieved after a series of attacks including the coordinated attacks in Paris, Beirut and a Russian plane crash in the Sinai Desert.

President Obama called it “shameful” in response to the American Governors who want to keep out Syrian refugees, who themselves are fleeing persecution and violence.  How many of us are children of immigrants?

Do we abandon our American ideals as a welcoming and safe haven and cave in to isolation and fear?  How do we have an effective global response to combat terrorism and hold on to our values of compassion for those who are most vulnerable?

How do we spread the values of democracy, diversity and peace rather than allow the terrorists to win the marketplace of values and ideals?  This is a global problem and needs a thoughtful global response.

Same Picture, Different Message


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Same picture, different message…what lens we bring, what we think, what we are listening for determines what we see, what we hear and what we think.

Pope Francis received an exuberant reception before addressing a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday.

Francis in America

Pope Francis, in Congress, Pleads for Unity on World’s Woes


Speaking to lawmakers on Thursday, the pope issued a call to action on issues largely favored by liberals, including a critique of the excesses of capitalism and a defense of immigration.

Did you watch the speech the Pope gave at Congress yesterday?  I did and I was really surprised when I read my New York Times this morning.  I saw the same picture but I did not hear the critical message that the Times reported.  I heard a compassionate message of hope, unity and healing.

What did you hear?  Please comment below so we can compare notes…

This can tell us a lot about how the media affects the news and shapes our opinions of what we think is happening in the world.

Our opinions also tells something about us.

“To Build As One, The Greatest Common Good”


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Pope Francis, the first pope to address the American Congress, called for solidarity for the common good with dialogue, compassion and shared responsibility to restore hope and promote the well being of all peoples.

He cited four Americans, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton who exemplified America as a land of dreams.  The pope cited our country’s values of liberty and justice to remind us of the hope for all peoples to inherit the right to dream.

When the pope talked about the refugee crisis, he reminded us that most of us were once foreigners.  Pope Francis touched on the Golden Rule and how every life is sacred.  The pope said, “A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion”.

What makes this pope so remarkable and engaging? The Pope wants to engage with us and have a conversation.  He reminds us of our shared humanity and potential.

He speaks for all of us, not just the 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide “to build as one, the greatest common good.”. 

“We Are Stronger When We Rise Together”


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praying together

#RisingForCharleston is a grassroots response from Everytown.org.   They are committed to prayer, healing and action.

They are rising for the nine people who were gunned down in their bible study group in Charleston.  They are rising for the people who are gunned down every day from gun violence.  They are rising for the communities of color who are victimized every day.  They are rising to call upon elected officials to act.

Everytown.org calls upon all of us to act.  On their website, you can join the call for prayer on Wednesday, June 24th, you can act by contacting lawmakers and you can support their faith leaders’ network.

It is a movement to end gun violence and build safer communities in every town.  #RiseForCharleston believes in turning grief into action.


Keep this form of dance alive!


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About Cedar Lake

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet is athletic, multidimensional and explosive…and they lost their funding.  I was captivated the first time I saw this dance company with its unusual and vibrant choreography and creative performance.  It continues to excite the audience in surprising ways.

I saw their last performance at BAM this past weekend.  It was heartbreaking to hear the audience standing applause and appreciation while watching the dancers and choreographers bow and shed a few tears for what may be their last time as a company.

I secretly hope some philanthropist/funder(s) will save this ailing dance company.  I feel sad thinking that the world will miss this vibrant channel of creativity, movement and vibrancy.  Is there someone out there, ready to say yes?


Inspiring words on graduation day: Lead, Shine and Know Your Power


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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

Madeleine Albright: Shine bright like a diamond.
“I hope that you will go forward with confidence, despite the burdens handed down to you by others; that you will employ your talents to keep pace with technology — while remembering that there is no technological answer to the questions that matter most; that you will take pride in who you are, but leave room for the pride of others; and that by your actions, you will each add luster to Dickinson’s name — and to your own.” (Dickinson College)

Nancy Pelosi: Know your power.
“Remember this: with the knowledge gained here, you can do anything. You may not be aware of the opportunities that await you, but when those opportunities present themselves, be ready. Be idealistic, be pragmatic, be ready. That’s a lesson I’ve taken to heart in my own experience. Although with my generation, I was inspired by John F. Kennedy, I had no idea I’d go from the kitchen to Congress, from homemaker to House Speaker… My wish is that you know your power to light the future with your ideals and your optimism.” (University of California at Berkeley)

Commencement Speeches Advise: Resilient, Risk and Hard Work


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Jill Abramson: “You’re more resilient than you realize. Graduating from Wake Forest means you have experienced success already. And some of you — and now I’m talking to anyone who has been dumped — have not gotten the job you really wanted or have received those horrible rejection letters from grad school. You know the disappointment of losing or not getting something you badly want. When that happens, show what you are made of… We human beings are a lot more resilient than we often realize.” (Wake Forest University)

Cecile Richards: Risks make the best opportunities — so take them often.
“If you hold out for an invitation, chances are good you’ll miss the party. And by the party I mean life. Growing up, Mom always told me: The answer to life is yes. This is the only life you have so make the most of it. Take every opportunity and risk you can. You’ll only regret the things you didn’t do because you were afraid to try.” (Barnard College)
Katie Couric: You can’t be criticized for hard work.
“When I became the anchor of the CBS Evening News, the first woman to do so alone, the critics were harsh and unrelenting. They complained about my hair, my makeup, my clothes, my delivery, even the way I held my hands. Some claimed I lacked gravitas, which I’ve decided is Latin for ‘testicles.’ It wasn’t easy. But I kept my head down and I stayed focused because I loved the work … The best antidote to the naysayers you’ll surely encounter along the way is to stay strong, work hard, and put in the time. ” (American University and Trinity College)

#Handle With Care


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handle with care

Sarah Maslin Nir wrote a series of alarming articles on the nail salon industry in The New York Times.  She exposed unsafe working conditions, abuse of workers and below minimum wages.  She challenged readers to realize that our gain of low prices was a result of someone else’s loss.  It left many people wondering how to respond appropriately.

Governor Cuomo responded by setting up a multi- agency task force to recover unpaid wages and enforce safety regulations to protect nail salon workers.  Volunteers handed out fliers informing workers of their rights.

Pippa Lord responded with a website and campaign called, #handlewithcare.  By taking matters into your own hands, literally, Instagram followers can take a picture of their nails and show support.  This has opened up the conversation on a larger scale.  Their goal is to improve conditions in nail salons and in the beauty industry as a whole.

The web site, Handle with care, is spreading the message of socially responsible service, with information and a hotline number to report violations and abuse.  Awareness, advocacy and support is a good way to begin this conversation and respond.

There are many other industries who could learn from this example.  As consumers, we can think about how our economic gain can be the result of someone else’s loss.  Ms. Pippa is leading by example with information, compassion and kindness.