Christmas Carol Redux

Joan Weaving

This week’s blog ushers in what we hope will be a series of issues about the challenges facing this nation in 2024. We are pairing her thoughtful, short article, where she considers the future we are leaving for the next generation, with a new challenge in the form of an appeal for more opinion content from our subscribers and writers. You can read more about our request at the end of Joan’s article. — Editors


The ghost of Christmas Future visited us this Christmas Eve. It came on the faces of all the little children who gathered at my son’s house. My grandsons, their neighbors and friends, their cousins. The oldest was 10 years and the youngest 2 months. I felt very old.

I thought about the world they will live in. The only thing I know for sure is that it will be different from the one of today, and unrecognizable to the one I grew up in. The events which shaped our understanding of the world will be just a footnote in their history books. But I want them to know.

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Moral Courage In U.S. Politics

Don Menzel
Joyce Carpenter

Here at OLLI Connects, just as everywhere else in our country, we recognize that 2024 is shaping up to be a watershed year. Economic insecurity, international conflicts, climate fears, border chaos and our polarized, explosive electorate will influence life for the foreseeable future. And while we are fortunate that OLLI offers each of us opportunities to engage in learning and activities that provide welcome distraction, the outer world continues to churn with disturbing events that must be dealt with. And so to begin the year, we address the concept of moral courage; and we hope to hear more from you about the important issues of our day throughout the coming year. It is our goal to listen to you, to give you a safe place to express your thoughts, your fears, and your hopes for the future in an occasional series of articles. More on that later. But for today, the first entry written by Don Menzel acknowledges courageous individuals who stepped up in 2023. And Joyce Carpenter invites you to attend a lecture on the same theme.

We begin with …. Moral Courage in U.S. Politics—Editors

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2023—A Look Back

As the editors of OLLI Connects, we love to take one week each year to simply reflect on the stories and articles that you, our members, have shared over the previous twelve months. This year is no exception. Moreover, 2023 distinguished itself from others due to the sheer diversity of material we were able to publish.

So we invite you to take a little trip down memory lane and revisit the riches our subscribers and authors shared every week. You might even find a few stories you missed! The links provided in the body of this story will bring you to specific stories or categories; you can also use our search box to find specific authors or topics in the complete archive. Or….you can just look at the images.

We hope you enjoy the journey—Editors

Not in America ?

Joan Weaving

On Monday, September 29th 1941 at 8am, Shepsa and Sura Gershunovich appeared at the corner of Melnikiva and Dokterivskaya streets in Kiev Russia, as ordered by the town police.

Shepsa and Sura were decent, God-fearing Russians who worked hard, and followed the laws of Torah. They raised children, eked out a living, and believed that God would provide. They were my great grandparents.

At 9 am, along with over 30,00 other “Yids” who had gathered as ordered, they were marched to Babi Yar, a huge ravine north of the city. They were stripped of their clothes and belongings and layered like plywood into the ditch. Then they were systematically shot to death and buried beneath the rubble. By 8 pm, all the “Yids” were dead.

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The Ugly Side of American Democracy

Don Menzel

Today’s OLLI Connects article does something that very few of our articles do: it takes a political stance.  We don’t expect everyone who reads OLLI Connects to agree with it, and we welcome opposing Comments, provided they follow our Comment Policy which you can find near the bottom of this page. We would also welcome a well written opposing article. We are confident–well, pretty confident–that OLLI-USF members can disagree without throwing punches or insults at one another. — Editors

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To Kill a Mockingbird Redux

Joan Weaving

I was 15 the summer of 1963. It was time of hope and optimism. The promise of Civil Rights had permeated our generation, and we embraced it. We learned all the anthems: Blowin’ In the Wind, We Shall Overcome, WE Shall Not be Moved, argued with our parents about attending the march on Washington, and flocked to the movie theatre to see To Kill A Mockingbird which exposed the underbelly of southern segregation and Jim Crow. And oh how we loved Atticus, the gentle and wise soul whose integrity could not be diminished even as he was spat upon.

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Supreme Court’s Ethical Soup

Don Menzel

Sure, we all have ethical challenges, but the U.S. Supreme Court is stewing in the ethical soup, and no one knows what to do about it. Chief Justice John Roberts must be beside himself to prevent leaks (think Roe v Wade on abortion). The Chief Justice described the leak as “absolutely appalling” damage to the Court. Whoever leaked the document had violated “an exemplary and important tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process and upholding the trust of the Court.”

Alas, the downward ethical spiral of the Court is reflected in the latest Gallup poll—58 percent of the public disapproves of the way the Supreme Court is handling its job while a bare 40 percent approve. When asked about how much trust and confidence you have in the judicial branch headed by the U.S. Supreme Court, 22 percent of those polled said

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What I Didn’t Learn in School About the Civil War

Andy Mohr

September 5, 1957 – I was just eleven years old when the evening news came on our black and white television. US paratroopers in Little Rock Arkansas held back an unruly crowd of angry white adults who were trying to prevent nine Black students from attending an all-white high school. Under President Eisenhower’s orders, the military enforced a Supreme Court ruling to desegregate federally regulated public schools.

Back then, this kind of violence was not unusual to see on television for a little kid like me. The networks covered state police wielding dogs, firehoses and night sticks against civil rights demonstrators.

In this same period, Russians were the first to launch a satellite into orbit around the earth. With America’s early lead in rocket science, we always assumed we would be first.

One TV newscaster commented: “This means that men are really going to the moon.”

“Yes,” said the second newscaster. “And here we are, still fighting the Civil War again.”

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2022 – A Look Back

Theresa Sokol
Al Carlson

We like to end each year with an issue in which we look back at the stories, poems, articles, memoirs, and–well, whatever–that we’ve published during the past 51 weeks.  And we have a staggering variety this time around.

We’ll share them with you in a moment. We want to stress that these are not necessarily “the best” articles in their category–just the ones that stood out for us personally, sometimes for very subjective reasons. We hope that you have a list of your own favorites.

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U.S.-China Relations: The Ukrainian Shadow

Don Menzel

The liberal world order fashioned in the aftermath of WWII by Western democracies has brought peace and prosperity for much of the world over the past 75 years. China, more than any other nation, was a significant beneficiary of a stable, rules-driven international order. Indeed, China was transformed nearly overnight from an agrarian peasant society to an industrial giant that raised millions of ordinary Chinese out of poverty and set the stage for China’s aspiration as an emerging world superpower. U.S.-China relations during this period prospered as well, with mutually beneficial trade, cultural, and political cooperation reaching new heights.

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