Category Archives: In My Opinion



by Eleanor Jaffe

During the months of preparation  for my five-week BOLLI course, “Crisis on our Border,” newspapers headlined stories of increasing inhumanity perpetrated by our government.  From attempts to ban Muslims and immigrants from “s-hole” countries to separating parents from their small children, denying asylum, and more, newspapers like The New York Times covered the calamitous news. And the news revealed that the leadership of this nation was without moral compass.

No more rapists and gang members and drug lords would be allowed to come to the U.S. to prey upon American citizens.  “It’s a national emergency!” President Trump declared before closing down the government so that his wall could be built.  “Let’s draw money from the Pentagon budget so that the wall can be built!  Let’s send troops to the border and shoot migrants if they attempt to cross!  Let’s close asylum posts!”  But, most of all, let’s dehumanize these dark-skinned people who, for the most part, don’t speak English.

Let’s rule out domestic violence as a reason for women and children to flee.  Let’s forget about the murders in the streets of Honduras and Guatemala, the rampant drug gang violence in Mexico, the drafting of young boys into gangs that roam with impunity, the forcing of young girls into prostitution.

For months, as I prepared, I clipped hundreds of newspaper articles that chronicled the heinous situation on our border.

How can we explain why so many Americans fell “hook, line, and sinker” for this hateful rhetoric and supposed “national emergency?”  How were they able to convince themselves that these human beings did not deserve humane treatment by our government?  The answer can’t be that they didn’t want to have their tax dollars spent on them.  After all, millions have gone to incarcerating asylum seekers and children in “for profit” private jails. Even more millions have been spent sending these people “back to where they came from” or to the first countries they trudged through outside their own.  Too many Americans seem to have forgotten the immigration stories their own grandparents told them.  That was then.  This is now.  We are “full up.”  There is no more room in the United States.

My class ended a few weeks ago, but, suddenly, so did the headlines.  The media shifted attention to impeachment, to the betrayal of the Kurds, and to other outrages.  Articles about the crisis on our border have vanished.  Why so fickle?  Many thousands still suffer. No solution has been found–or even suggested.  Do people need new titillations to satisfy their appetite for disasters?  If so, we have a president who will happily feed their ravenous maws.

BOLLI member and SGL Eleanor Jaffe

Eleanor also serves as leader of BOLLI’s “Make a Difference” Special Interest Group.  Watch “BOLLI Matters” as well as the Bulletin for announcements of the group’s meetings and activities.  All interested members are welcome to attend.


In response to the Writers Guild prompt, “A Matter of Life and Death,” the opinion expressed in the following bit of rhyme is not necessarily that which is held by all BOLLI members.


By L. Schwirian

Trumpty Dumpty

Sat on his wall.

Trumpty Dumpty

Had a great fall.

All the King’s henchmen

And all the King’s Zen

Couldn’t put Trumpty

Together again.

BOLLI Matters feature writer and Writers Guild co-chair, Larry Schwirian

Architect Larry and his fellow architect wife Caroline live in an historic preservation home in Newton and have led BOLLI courses on architecture.  Larry has been an active participant in and leader of the Writers Guild special interest group as well as serving on the BOLLI Journal staff.  


Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792-2018)

by Eleanor Jaffe

I woke up with Shelley on my mind, which was very strange because I had not thought of Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792-1822) since I was an English major at Brooklyn College a long time ago.  All that had been on my mind were the Kavanaugh hearings at the Senate Judiciary Committee and Trump’s harangue to the United Nations about his triumphs since becoming President.  Nevertheless, my unconscious made these connections between Shelley and my perceptions of contemporary political life.

To me, this is how Shelley predicted our current Republican majority in the Senate Judiciary Committee (from “Queen Mab,” 1813):

Power, like a desolating pestilence,                                                Pollutes whate’er it touches; and obedience                                                     Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth,                                                       Makes slaves of men, and, of the human frame,                                                    A mechanized automaton.

In his 1817 poem, “Ozymandias,” Shelley describes the decaying remains of a once supreme king. The traveler who discovers the remains describes:

Two vast and trunkless legs of stone,                                                                   Stand in the desert.  Near them, on the sand,                                                    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown                                               And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command                                                    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read.

 The once powerful king had boasted:                                                                    “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:                                                               Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”                                               Nothing beside remains.  Round the decay                                                            Of that colossal wreck…”

I no longer remember the political machinations of Shelley’s England that led him to make these poetic observations.  However, in my opinion, he provides poetic insight into our current political circus.  The majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee has shown itself to be slave-like in its obedience to Power.  And Trump’s boastfulness would make Ozymandias jealous!  What do you think?

BOLLI Matters feature writer Eleanor Jaffee\

Eleanor says that, since November of 2016, her activist nature has been reawakened.  In addition to writing for BOLLI Matters, she has teamed up with fellow member Elaine Dohan to form BOLLI’s new and vibrant “Make a Difference” special interest group.