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Margaret Sullivan
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Margaret Sullivan has been writing, editing and making art for most of her eighty years. Born in China, she has lived and worked in Asia and Africa as well as the United States. Her commentaries on contemporary American life: A Grandmother on…, have appeared in the Huffington Post since 2013. A compilation of these blogs and other essays about being an intercultural migrant, Reflections of a Mobile Life, is in progress. Her award winning book, “Can Survive, La” Cottage Industries in High-rise Singapore (1985; 1992), profiles individual families in traditional small making-things businesses in technological Singapore. She also co-edited Change and the Muslim World (1981) and has written a critically acclaimed children’s book, The Philippines: Crossroads of the Pacific (1998) as well as numerous articles in the Foreign Service Journal, Far Eastern Economic Review, Singapore Straits Times, The International Herald Tribune and the Washington Post among others. In the mid-70s, she edited the Association of American Foreign Service Women’s Newsletter during a period of major change in the roles of women more broadly, and then Clubwoman Magazine, the publication of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.

Entries by Margaret Sullivan

A Grandmother On 'No Sense of Decency'

(4) Comments | Posted May 17, 2016 | 1:12 PM

"Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?" Joseph H. Welch, Army-McCarthy hearings, June 9, 1954

I can still hear Dad's voice that fall night in 1950 as he sat my next sister and me down after dinner to...

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Seeing America and Ourselves From the Outside In

(0) Comments | Posted April 26, 2016 | 1:22 PM


"A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us."
Travels with Charley
John Steinbeck

What does it mean to be an American? Who...

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A Grandmother on "Truth, Justice and the American Way"

(1) Comments | Posted April 1, 2016 | 1:43 PM

Up in the sky, look: It's a bird. It's a plane. It's Superman!

Evil is afoot in Metropolis. Mild mannered Clark Kent, a bespectacled reporter for the Daily Planet, ducks into the telephone booth. And, faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able...

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This Painting Humanizes the Refugee Crisis

(2) Comments | Posted September 30, 2015 | 4:13 PM

" have to understand, that no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land..." -Somali-born poet Warsan Shire

Weeping eyes, a triangular nose and a wailing mouth abstracted in a greenish face greet me every morning.

An unaccompanied Vietnamese teenage refugee painted...

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A Grandmother on Wedding Cakes

(328) Comments | Posted August 23, 2015 | 6:18 PM

Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of Sweetcakes by Melissa, were ordered by Oregon state officials last month to pay $135,000 in damages after they declined to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple...

[The bakers] decided this week that they wanted to let gays and lesbians know that,...

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A Grandmother on "Watch the Needle and Just Say Ouch"

(34) Comments | Posted January 30, 2015 | 1:23 PM

Measles Cases Linked to Disneyland Rise, and Debate Over Vaccinations Intensifies
--New York Times, January 21, 2014

Eighty-eight and counting, the number of measles cases reported so far in the 'Disneyland' outbreak, is a lot -- the largest single eruption since 2000, when the United States was declared essentially...

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The Grandmother on "Respecting the Part You Play"

(2) Comments | Posted December 3, 2014 | 9:03 AM

"Dear Sasha and Malia, I get your (sic) both in those awful teen years but you're a part of the First Family. Try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play. Then again, your mother and father don't respect their positions very much, or the nation for...

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A Grandmother on Curbing the Chicken Little Virus

(1) Comments | Posted October 17, 2014 | 4:29 PM

Chicken Little was in the woods one day when an acorn fell on her head. It scared her so much she trembled all over. She shook so hard, half her feathers fell out. "Help! Help!" she cried. "The sky is falling! I have to go tell the king!"

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A Grandmother on 'Uppity Women', Universal Suffrage and Protecting the Vote

(0) Comments | Posted August 19, 2014 | 2:22 PM

Women weren't "given" the right to vote. We fought and died for it.

Ninety-four years ago, August 18, 1920, Tennessee, the last state required to approve it, ratified the 19th amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits United States citizens from being denied the right to vote on the basis of...

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A Grandmother on Moon Thoughts, 45 Years Later

(0) Comments | Posted July 21, 2014 | 7:10 PM

Time and attention are quirky. We were in Washington when the Russians launched Sputnik in 1957 starting the Space race, aware but focused more on new baby, new job.

We had returned from Malaya on our first Foreign Service posting and were in Virginia on home leave on May...

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A Grandmother on "Debts," "Trespasses" and Flipping "Religious Freedom" on its Head

(2) Comments | Posted July 9, 2014 | 1:33 PM


"No! 'Trespasses'!"

In Miss Challis' fifth grade, we absolutist 10 year-olds argued all year about which to use when we recited the Lord's Prayer each morning. The Baptists knew it had to be "debts," because that was the way it was. We Methodists were equally adamant that "trespasses"...

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A Grandmother Of Our Many Santas

(3) Comments | Posted December 25, 2013 | 8:37 AM

"Santa just is white..." Megyn Kelly, Fox News

When I was a child, eons ago, we believed in Santa. We hung stockings on Christmas Eve and they were full on Christmas morning. I have a visceral memory from when I was eight, early in World War II, of the anticipation,...

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A Grandmother on Marriage, an Anniversary Card

(0) Comments | Posted November 22, 2013 | 10:35 AM

Illinois. Hawaii. New Jersey. The list of states recognizing same sex marriage has exploded to 16 plus the District of Columbia. With its surprising court decision in April 2009, Iowa was the first beyond the East Coast.

Many Americans' views of marriage are shifting radically within a greater acceptance of...

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A Grandmother on Tacloban and Multi-layered Memories

(0) Comments | Posted November 13, 2013 | 3:58 PM

Tacloban -- the Philippine city that monster typhoon Haiyan turned into matchsticks and heaps of rubble, tossing boats ashore, smashing cars, tearing up coconut trees and leaving residents desperate, homeless, thirsty and hungry -- lives differently in my mind. In memory, it centers on a white sand beach, curling around...

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A Grandmother on Green Eggs and Obamacare

(5) Comments | Posted October 1, 2013 | 5:02 PM

"...I am Sam. Sam I am...I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam-I-Am..."

Dr. Seuss' classic Green Eggs and Ham was the most talked about 'takeaway' of the overwrought, 21-hour political theater a week ago (with more drama since). The "Cruz-a-thon," as one quick-witted...

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A Grandmother on -- Gasp -- Sodomy

(125) Comments | Posted August 1, 2013 | 3:10 PM

Never in my 79 years, nearly 59 of them married to the only man I have ever known, did I imagine being able to say -- much less write -- this:

I am guilty of sodomy.

For that matter, so is my husband, pleasurably so. (Our youngest would have me...

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A Grandmother on Sex, Contraception and Religious Freedom

(7) Comments | Posted July 17, 2013 | 12:25 PM

"Smile ☺ Your Mother Chose Life"

The yellow bumper sticker makes me smile. Not for its indirect meaning but because of my own story. I have always known I was conceived by my missionary parents in love and as the result of a mindful decision that the time was right...

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Immigration and Fourth of July Faces

(0) Comments | Posted July 10, 2013 | 4:40 PM

We crept under Great Uncle Charlie's window stifling our little girl giggles, set off our loudest firecrackers, ran away whooping, deliberately waking the train engineer just asleep after his late night run. Soon, a white-haired child-at-heart, he was out with us, making the neighborhood reverberate. Great Aunt Maude joined the...

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