remembering Friedo

August 26, 2007

friedo11.jpg   This past Monday, Friedo Sachser died after being in the hospital for several months. He was at home and at peace. Friedo was the father of the German host family who took me in as an American Field Service exchange student in the summer of 1971. Then, I lived with Gertrud and Friedo Sachser (parents) and Ralf and Gert (two sons). The last time I visited Friedo in 1984, he and Gertrud were divorced and Friedo and Boike Jacobs were together. This picture is from that visit.Last October, Gertrud passed away, and I’ve written about her on this blog on 16 Oct. 2006 and 14 Oct. 2006.   Perhaps the best memorial for Friedo I can offer is to reproduce a bit of the journal I kept that summer. Here’s an image of that battered book: journal.jpg On June 30, 1971, I recorded a typical Friedo statement: “1945 was the most exciting year of my life. I had my first encounter with the Americans — they almost killed me.” Here’s a selection from 5 July:

I always feel like writing after a discussion — which brings us to the topic of discussions. Thurs. nite, Fri., Sat., & tonite Papa and I have had at least one-hour discussions at the dinner table after dinner. We have many ideas in common. I keep on thinking that what we talk about & theorize about is just middle-class liberal morality — but what is that? I think that what I think about men is universal, but I don’t know, because I have never known anything but middle-class all my life.Among other things, Papa & I talked about Viet Nam tonight and he said one thing that made a particularly strong impression. It is that the Viet Nam War has shown the Europeans what America has become — it has unmasked her imperialism or whatever derogatory name you wish to use as a lable. Papa said that America’s democracy was always thought as an exemplary gov., but now, thru such things as the Calley affair and the Pentagon Papers, people are seeing that the Am. gov. can commit as many atrocities & inhumane injustices as any other “normal” government. 

It’s difficult to measure the effect that Friedo’s discussions had on me, except to say that I was irrevocably changed. The sixteen-year-old American student who went to Germany for the summer returned to the United States a seventeen-year-old young woman who had learned from firsthand accounts how war cripples land, nations, individuals.I celebrate Friedo’s fierce pacifism, his wide-ranging mind and gifts for other languages, his photographic mania and artistry, his love for writing and challenging talk, his dedication to long bike rides and a good sauerkraut, and his honesty of vision. May he rest in peace. My love to his family and friends.


to twitter, or not

August 22, 2007

i didn’t think i’d like twitter… really not. but i do. i’m still curious about it. i like posting. i like that i only have 140 characters. the limit makes this a genre. the twitter-post. nothing else like it. so cool how some folks make it poetic, others mundane — still others, a mish-mash. kinda like a photo with words — these quick shutter flashes that capture one moment, or a small slice of time or thought. fleeting. but pinned down. just for a sec. i’m still trying to figure out a classroom application.what if? what if i don’t figure out the application and just say, “let’s twitter.” and see how students come up with a classroom application. how cool would that be… 

another world is possible

August 15, 2007

Naomi Klein’s speech to the American Sociological Association’s conference as recorded at Democracy Now! analyzes moments of historical effervescence (I like this term she uses) and the crushing of such moments. Klein gives us an answer for progressives: we need movement thinking that maintains confidence in our ideas. This speech is a great read. Check it out!

the universe in a single atom

August 12, 2007

I’m reading this book by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and I’m hooked. Science and Buddhism…how do these two fields learn from each other? I think that’s the Dalai Lama’s central question. Or one of them, at any rate. One point he makes that I love: believing that the practice of science occurs outside of some kind of moral framework and that one only asks ethical questions of the resulting products or practices…this is ludicrous. Ethical and moral questioning needs to occur at every step of the scientific process. The Dalai Lama also says that if scientific findings contradict a Buddhist belief, then that belief needs to be revised. I love reading about his first encounters with technology, how he takes apart the artifacts left by the 13th Dalai Lama: a watch, automobiles.

super swimmer mimi

August 10, 2007

I got to see Mimi Hughes at the Madison County-Huntsville City Public Library on Wednesday. She had tons of pictures of her Danube and Drava swims. Mimi started off her talk by quoting Ghandi — that we must be the change we wish to see in the world. I left keeping in my head that media in Europe attended to this almost 50-year-old (at the time — summer 2006) swimmer chugging along each day along the 1,776 miles of flooded and polluted river, while the U.S. media wasn’t too interested. This needs to be rectified.