Category Archives: NEWS

Creativity and Making Art Today: Wisdom or Folly?

 

by Eleanor Parker Sapia

“It is very interesting that foolish people make the world what it is, and wise people have to live in it. Foolish people can create disasters, but they cannot endure them; wise people do not cause them, but they can endure them. One of the proofs of wisdom is the fact it can survive the shock and stress of change and the shock and stress of error. There is something immortal about wisdom because wisdom can live in an environment where stupidity cannot exist. Wisdom possesses a certain immortality. A wise person can live in a world as it is, regardless of what that world may be, regardless of the religions and philosophies, or absence of them, regardless of the intemperances and intolerances. That which is truly wise flows continuously and placidly on its way, unmoved in itself by any of the changes which affect and afflict that which is unwise.”

~ Manly P. Hall

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I’m Sorry

by Kevin Nordstrom

It’s routine in our house in the morning, when my almost 8 month old son awakes, for he, my wife and I to lay in bed together. We allow ourselves the time to wake slowly and bask in the happiness and calm we have before the madness of the day begins.

This morning was no different. At least at first.

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When Our Words Seem Trite

by Eleanor Parker Sapia

Despite many attempts last month, I found it difficult to write, especially about writing. Every word seemed trite and nothing I said seemed relevant in light of the terror and chaos caused by recent crimes of hatred and acts of terrorism at home and abroad.

In desperation, I decided it was time to take a break. Not a break from writing my second book—that keeps me sane—no, I decided to take a break from social media and blogging, until such time that our world becomes a more peaceful place to live. My thoughts were muddied by too much chaos, heartache, and uncertainty.

Then I thought, wait a minute…that peace might take a long, long time.

Last night I read a heart-tugging article in The Nation by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, published last year. One quote in particular spoke to what I was facing and seemed entirely relevant to the madness we’re experiencing today.

“I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge—even wisdom. Like art.”  – Toni Morrison

I was indeed in danger of succumbing to the malevolence by remaining silent after the attacks in Paris, Brussels, and Turkey. I admit the joy I’d experienced with my work in progress waned after the murders in Orlando, Baton Rouge. and Dallas. It was all too much. I was worried all the time. I feared for the safety of the protesters on both camps, and for the protests that would surely continue. I was living with anxiety, worry, and in constant fear for my children. I was emotionally drained. I’d reached my limit.

What did Ms. Morrison mean by chaos containing information that can lead to knowledge? Was she saying that like peeling an onion back layer upon layer, we’d get to the very core of the problems in our country? I think so. Only when we know and acknowledge the very real problems and challenges we face as a society can we open lines of communication and begin to heal. That made a lot of sense.

Last night, I realized I need to continue creating art despite the chaos and madness around me, in honor of the writers, journalists, and artists who are silenced and imprisoned around the world, because I can.

Happy writing to you.

ellie

Puerto Rican-born novelist Eleanor Parker Sapia was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s life experiences as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker, and a refugee case worker inspire her passion for writing. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago a second time.

A Decent Woman, Eleanor’s bestselling historical novel, is the July 2015 Book of the Month selection for the national organization Las Comadres & Friends Book Club. It is described as “…a true work of historical depth and artistry.” Eleanor has two adventurous, grown children and currently lives in wild and wonderful West Virginia.

Broken Dreams: The Murder of a Beauty Queen

by Stephanie Ortez

How many of us have dreamed to become the next Miss Universe when were little? The big, long, perfect hair, the white smiles, the impeccable body, the dazzling fashion, and the goal of wearing a crown affirming you are royalty. In a country like Honduras, dreams like this are almost impossible to achieve. It was my dream to become a musician, but the cold face of poverty and violence in my country of birth hit me so hard, it meant the only way to come to terms with these lofty goals was to leave and come to the United States.

For Maria Jose Alvarado, this dream became a nightmare.

There weren’t any smiles on the day of Maria’s unfortunate and brutal demise. When I first heard rumors that Maria had disappeared, my worst fears were confirmed. Her perfect body was dumped undignified on a river bank near her home in Santa Barbara, Honduras. Maria’s beautiful body and dreams were pulverized in the dark – away from the dazzling limelight, the praises, and the crown she deserved.

Maria Jose became a hero in her own right when she selflessly threw herself on top of her sister, Sofia, only 23 years old, as she tried to defend her from Sofia’s boyfriend, Plutarco Antonio Ruiz, who shot both sisters in a jealous rage without any regrets.

Maria’s body, wrapped in brown plastic, was loaded into the back of a soiled pickup truck. How could a beautiful young woman, like Maria, meet such a tragic end? On the threshold of life, she had been scheduled to compete at Miss World 2014 in December of that year. Although described as timid, Maria began competing in pageants at an early age. Born into a middle-class family in Honduras, Maria was more than the average girl next door. She worked hard to maintain her modeling career without leaving her studies behind. A sensible, bright girl who protected her elder sister until the very end.

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via MailOnline

In a country where corruption is rampant, it’s important to understand the tragedy behind these sisters’ murders. Maria’s mother, Maria Munos, has said her daughters’ killings gained notoriety due to the fact of Maria’s status as Miss Honduras.

Honduras holds the highest murder rate in the world with 84 homicides per 100,00 people. The gang presence is well established in the country. Honduras is also an important drug route to the U.S. Women and girls in the barrios live in constant fear of sexual attack and a violent death. Anyone can murder a woman in Honduras with cruel impunity. This is the fear of Mrs. Munoz, who believes her daughters’ killer will not receive the justice he deserves.

The murder of the Alvarado sisters represents a far bigger problem that is showing no signs of slowing down. Ninety percent of murders taking place in Honduras – even those affecting US Citizens – are never investigated, let alone ever solved. There are social and political problems that have been affecting Honduras for years: poverty, a coup d’etat, companies leaving the country, and no work. This is a country where women are murdered for $60.

What drove Plutarco Ruiz to kill both sisters? Jealousy. On that dreadful night, both sisters attended a birthday party. Maria Jose was eager to go back to Tegucigalpa. She needed to get ready and meet her sponsors before flying off to London for the Miss Universe pageant. She was beyond excited at this great opportunity for a young girl to represent her country in one of the most illustrious pageants in the world. Maria had told her mother her trip to London was also an opportunity to meet her brother for the first time, who was rumored to live in Germany. Maria Jose hesitantly agreed to accompany her sister to the party on that fateful evening. Little did she know that all of the frivolity and fanfare would soon be left as a memory to all those adoring friends, family, and admirers she left behind. That night at the party, Sofia’s boyfriend became enraged after seeing his girlfriend dancing with another man. The couple argued outside for a few minutes until Plutarco, without any hesitation, shot both sisters in cold blood. Their bodies were discovered six days later.

No mother should ever bury her daughters this way. No woman should feel threatened to speak for herself and follow her dreams. Every thirteen hours a woman is murdered in Honduras. What answers and hope can we give these women who have nowhere to turn? In my own experience knowing these stories first hand, I understand why many women flee the country and become part of a wave of undocumented immigrants. Since the Honduran government makes little effort to provide shelter and protection, these women can’t fight for their human rights like you and I do in the United States.

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via Enterprise News

The idea that many of these crimes go unpunished is astonishing. Is this an issue about corruption or a moral value that has been buried because of the force of “machismo” or sexism that prevails especially among Hispanic men? You may argue this statement is too generalized. But when one I see a mother crying desperately for her daughters, it evokes memories of my own family in Honduras who are all living in extreme poverty, and all of the young girls pursuing a modeling career just to end up as prostitutes due to the lack of work and fear of getting killed. These are women whose lives are constantly threatened by men. Authorities even lay the blame on the women for their own deaths without even investigating. Women are “victims of a violent society and culture,” says Gilda Rivera, a member of the Center for Women’s Rights. “In Honduras, violence prevails.”

This travesty is what destroyed Maria Jose Alarado’s dream. This travesty is what is killing the hopes of many women in Honduras. To think that women are born into this and cannot escape is beyond tragedy. It is a cursed life in a hell hole where no matter what they do, they cannot be safe.

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Stephanie is a highly caffeinated mother of two wonderful boys. She is hopelessly addicted to non-fiction books and literature that moves her to tears. She is an admissions adviser for George Washington University online where she assists homeschooled students internationally. Stephanie lives with Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. She is a passionate mental health advocate, a member of Stigma Fighters. Her writing has been featured on The Elephant Journal, The Mighty, The Organic Coffee Haphazardly and Feminine Collective. – See more at: http://femininecollective.com/roller-coaster-ride-office-romance/#sthash.vNEIMeAn.dpuf

Exiting the Mirrors of Blood

I was born in the second poorest country in the western hemisphere. My mother took great pains to ensure that my two sisters and I were shielded from the specter of impoverishment. Against of all odds, she graduated from university with honors and secured an amazing job in a country racked by oppressive paternalism and endemic sexism. Still, it was only a matter of time before I began to realize the reality of poverty and misery engulfing my childhood environment. In 2001 my life took a dramatic turn when I was presented with a green card, allowing me to legally immigrate to the United States. In one fell swoop, I was whisked away from my childhood home to the storied land of opportunity. I have now lived in the United States for almost half of my life. I have availed myself and my children of all the advantages of living in the United States: the veritable antithesis of Honduras. Yet I still have dreams of my homeland. It has proven impossible for me to completely forget the land of my birth, and to ignore the stark contrast of my present home to my former. And now, as I assess the changes that have occurred during my absence, I cannot help but to inwardly mourn Honduras’s steady decline into violence.

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