A few years ago, I began losing many of the people I love. One of the difficult things about coming from a culture where your extended familia is considered your "nuclear" family is that you don't just lose a set of parents, a couple of aunts and uncles, but dozens upon dozens of tías, tíos, madrinas, padrinos, abuelitas, abuelitos. A whole flank of familia is suddenly gone.
My parents joined that clan exodus, dying within five months of each other. Actually, I had been losing both incrementally to Alzheimer's over several years. Each time I returned to the Dominican Republic to look after their care and visit with them, I'd braced myself for the day when they wouldn't know who I was. No matter how old you get, while your parents are living, you are still somebody's "child."
Their loss, though painful, was in the natural order of things. But then came a loss I was not expecting: my older sister committed suicide.
An excerpt from Kurt Vonnegut's A Man Without a Country:
The most I can give you to cling to is a poor thing, actually. Not much better than nothing, and maybe it’s a little worse than nothing. It is the idea of a truly modern hero. It is the bare bones of the life of Ignaz Semmelweis, my hero.
“If there is no struggle there is no progress. . . . This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.”
Does America deserve to survive?
That's the question William Faulkner asked himself after the 1955 murder of Emmitt Till, and that's the question Ariel Dorfman
has found himself wondering in 2016, during his pilgrimage to Faulkner's hometown of Oxford, Mississippi.