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home : commentary : commentary June 25, 2016

Our shared roots
Kathy Magnuson, left,
and Norma Smith Olson

"I like the feeling that we're not all that different. You don't have to be afraid of people you know."
- Kathy McKay, read story

by Kathy Magnuson and Norma Smith Olson

Iraqis and Americans planting trees together in Najaf, Iraq, gives Kathy McKay hope for peace. Iraqis and Americans getting to know each other as human beings was part of the dream that launched the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project that she directs. On a recent visit, the group planted trees together to protect the city from sandstorms and to help fight air pollution. As they worked, they discussed their jobs, posted Facebook photos and shared their lives. These new trees in Iraq reminded McKay of the red pines on the farm where she grew up. You can read her story on page 8 of this issue.

An isolated island off Australia was the setting for the book "The Light Between the Oceans," the Women's Press staff book group discussed recently. In it a young husband and wife face ethical decisions about discerning the right thing to do in a critical situation. Is a certain choice really the right one or does it seem so only because they want it so badly? What if you feel compelled to correct a big life mistake but the only options involve more hurt and damage? What makes something right or wrong? The story was about the emotions that go along with welcoming a new baby into a family, losing brothers to war, the mass discrimination against someone who is different, living with a secret and the loss of a child. The dilemmas in the story lead to a thoughtful discussion.

Our MWP colleague, who holds dual U.S. and Iranian citizenship, recently returned from a three-week visit with her family in Iran. She shared photos, telling the stories of relationships, lives lived and shared experiences. She talked about her strong, resilient mother at 96 years old and the family's pride in her father's mosaic artwork in galleries around the country. She spoke of the siblings she misses and gave us a picture of everyday life in Tehran, including trash collection, concerns for those who don't have enough to eat, museum visits and birthday parties.

"I like the feeling that we're not all that different," McKay said in her interview. "You don't have to be afraid of people you know."


As we go to press with this issue, the news is again filled with stories of proposed military intervention - this time in Syria. We hear more about drones that can drop bombs while being directed from remote sites without having to get close enough to see the faces of people - the workers in offices or fields, the children in schools - or the landscape and trees.

Like a forest with different varieties of trees, we are distinctive and similar at the same time. We are connected with each other with roots of a love of family, moral dilemmas and hopes for the future.

Coming up:

November, 2013, is all about giving and receiving. What have you learned about receiving something you didn't think you wanted? Tell us about it. Send up to 150 words to editor@womenspress.com
Deadline: Oct. 10, 2013

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Deadline: Oct. 10, 2013

December, 2013, is our annual Changemakers issue. What would you like to see changed for women or girls? Tell us about it.
Send up to 150 words to editor@womenspress.com
Deadline: Nov. 10, 2013

December advertising sections:
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Deadline: Nov. 10, 2013

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