Internationalism seems a dirty word in the global melting pot. Once in the land of opportunity, immigrants hustle and roots become a romantic memory. The 21st century brought the outside world crashing past America’s safe harbors. A near-coup was an unsettling reminder of how much America had in common with the rest of the world.
The rolling coup set in motion by a sitting US president mirrored an invasion of Ukraine by Russia in violation of international laws enacted after the Second world War. Democracy was at stake. As Ukraine fights militarily for the rights first enshrined in the US Constitution, the beacon of democracy itself fights for those principles in the political arena.
While life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness seem no-brainer ideals for all people, power-mongers worldwide exert brutal force to prove they disagree. Worldwide unity is key to their defeat. That is the same rocky road for managing all major challenges in a global world.
For writer Fogarassy, internationalism was a natural. She was born in post-war Communist Hungary, lived briefly in Austria with family, was raised in the American Midwest state of Indiana and has been a New Yorker all her adult life. New York lets her stay in touch with far-flunfg friends both in the US and overseas.
Fogarassy’s work is broad in scope. She writes fiction and nonfiction. poetry, drama, filmscripts and documentary text. Her commercial work includes educational, political, promotional and sales materials.
With commercial clients she has always worked as an independent contractor to gain experience, learn the trade, gather material and of course to earn a living. Free of hindrances due to conformity and red tape. she gained unique insights into the likes of the innovative Scholastic Magazines empire, the gangly Trump Organization, the Mahler Institute founded by child psychiatrist Margaret Mahler, the cumbersome US Census Bureau and the pinnacle of global opportunity, the uber-bureaucratic United Nations. Fogarassy was able to handle such a broad range of clients because of the flexibility that came with a bumpy early-start in life as a refugee and immigrant.
Fiercely independent in life and work, Fogarassy is equally committed to responsibilies as an American citizen. She has served on juries from local to federal. She worked in multiple capacities for the 1992 US presidential election, advocated for the NY Public Library, contributed talent to the Long Island Pine Barrens Society and took part in the Dinkins outreach project to integrate citizen views into government.
Fogarassy’s pivotal project was her assignment as a creative writer for the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) during the mid-1900’s Intervention. As Editor-in-Chief of the UNOSOM Weekly aimed at the local audience, at Embassies around the world and at UN Headquarters in New York, she learned to integrate the vast range of facets to communication that she had she had mastered in life and career.
Early experience introduced Fogarassy to rapid radical change without warning, the shifts manageable only with help. Schoolmates in Austria and the US helped her adapt complex Hungarian thoughts into equally complex German and then English. Her affinity for classics in comparative literature at Indiana University led her to write long dissertations while her first publishing job in New York trained her to sum up western civilization in two columns of 150 lines each at Scholastic Magazines. The creative writing assisgment in Somalia with the United Nations brought all those skills into play. It also demonstrated the real-world parameters of global communication.
Local Somalis loved the editorial section of the Weekly newsletter even if they didn’t understand all the words read to them by other Somalis while sitting on the parapet near the editorial office after grabbing the paper hot off the press. UN Headquarters nearly had Fogarassy recalled for a column describing the caterer’s lunceheon offering that day as chicken shards that delighted the swarms of flies feasting alongside humans. Missions around the world paid no attention to Somalia once the internationals messed up and the US withdrew to lick its wounds while the UN was left holding the bag. But if all that wasn’t enough for a Hungarian-American writer steeped in the classics, Fogarassy returned to the brand new world of computers that sent creativity into a tailspin.
Creativity is a generative force. Once the spigot opens, thoughts gush & mutate faster than a whirling virus. Making the transition from a labor-heavy medium to an instant production was the challenge of a lifetime. Fogarassy was able to forego white out, scissors and scotch tape just in time to tackle the web, social media and the global phenomenon sweeping the world after 9/11.
The Somalia experience combined with work at UN Headquarters told Fogarassy right off the bat that the War on Terrorism was misguided. She wasn’t alone in that view & neither could she stop it. All she could do was get her life’s work in order as it became relevant in a contemporay context. It wasn’t until the Trumph phenomenon hit the US and the world that Fogarassy circled back to her early days in Communist Hungary.
Post-war Hungary under the Soviets was short of everything but terror, red tape and restrictions. Food, money & necessities were available on the Black Market. After the family’s flight from Hungary to the western world, the main orientation for Fogarassy was to learn & follow rules. She did that equally in Catholic grammer school, the University Club in New York. the United Nations and the homes of friends and colleagues in Manhattan, Harlem and the Bronx. Since the advent of the internet shortly after her return from Somalia, Fogarassy’s main task has been to relinquis rules in order to fit in with peers especially in the US.
Cataclysmic changes cause disruptions and while remnants heal, scar tissue adds to the overall character of the affected entity from thereon forward. That principle holds true for thought and language similar to a vocal accent. While some people like accents and others don’t, the purpose of the exchange is to communicate.
In her own work, Fogarassy has entertainingly communicated with short stories, articles and a frst novel entitled Mix Bender, a fun work with serious overtones set in the Caribbean.
Fogarassy distlled the complex Somalia experience into Mission Improbable: the world community on a UN compound in Somalia. It recounts the tricky feat of operating the UNOSOM News Center out of an enclosed compound with reporters who were former US informants allied with clans. The aim was to establish a government for a country in anarchy after collapse of a dictator installed as colonialism ended across 1960’s Africa.
The mission in Somalia was monumental. It began when famine hit and global media brought starving children to world attention. The mission was formed as a joint effort between the US and UN, which included US allies. The mission accomplished a lot of good. It failed because of institutional pitfalls still in need of upgrade. In a global world, the challenge is to integrate individuals into institutional structures. No small feat..
As a classical writer rather than a modern jounalist, academic or pundit, Fogarassy aims to distil lofty ideas into everyday language she can understand. To her as a word gourmande, words carry nessages beyond meaning through their sounds and in that way speak to the heart. Still, words also have a practical purpose. Her Light of a Destiny Dark was published in time to remind the world of Russia’s intentions in Ukraine.
While the Holocaust was grotesque and barbaric, there has been little appetite for reconciling with the hardships that everyday Europeans endured during the Second World War. As if in the belief it was best to let sleeping dogs lie, Western democracies fought home battles with Communism as if in isolation from the horror behind the Iron Curtain.
Lightof a Destiny Dark is a novel based on a memoir by Fogarassy’s mother about life in Hungary during the war and then behind the Iron Curtain. The novel softens the war story by unfolding it in alternate chapters with a later happy American life. Even so, the story is a heavy lift especially for Americans. As Trump seized power in the US while Putin began tearing at former Soviet satellites who had paid dearly for their freedom, Fogarassy gathered 12 years of her essays and published them as an American-Hungarian view of the Trump phenomenon.
America Votes Obama to Biden Past Trump: a kaleidoscopic view of the Trump phenomenon coverts America in the first two decades if the 21st Century. It covers 9/11, the Bush presidency, the Palin showcase and the Obama rescue of the US, both social and economic. It covers the Trump disaster and the rocky road that Biden was left to traverse amid the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Not even to mention those of remaining Trump thralls.
Finally, The Midas Maze is a contemporary novel about the vast United Nations network. Through engaging personized caracters, it shows the enormous good being done by relief and aid agencies worldwide. It also shows the pitfalls in the opportunities for universal exercise of ambition and greed. To Fogarassy, those are workable elenents to those who want to build instead of destroy what civilization has so far built.
In Fogarassy’s view, there is no need to be a scholar to pursue intellectual interests. Curiosity, research and fact check take an idea to a published article or posted article in a local paper or a media outlet. Likewise, scholars don’t have to remain obscure ivory tower icons. They too can research and fact check to learn how to be relevant.
Local to global, as the environment slogan says. In a global world, the maxim can also work backwards. Local media are key for linking the outside world and local communities, for channeling the personal view into the national network and from there into the global. With so mcu isolation in societies due in large part to unbridled social media, the challenge is to include everyday people as an integral part of adaptations required by commerce, environment and demand for equity. The key is to create communication channels that are two-way highways between local and global.
Internationalism promotes such communication by encouraging national identities to emerge as individuals alongside near-200 other nations. At the heart of that drive is the presumption based on experience that all people are wired the same. Personal and cultural differences vary broadly, but joys and sorrows register the same in all. All also agree that joys feel better. In all countries since the dawn of the 21st centuries, the consensus of everyday people on that point has grown exponentially.
Especially in Ukraine, where Putin is hell bent on snuffing the light of joy. Fat chance. The modern world won’t let him, thanks to the courage of the individual country of Ukraine.