My imaginary friend Stella and I, having fled an Italy crushed by inequity, thought at the time that there was precious little to lose. But Italy is changing. For real. And Stella and I are changing along with her. For us it's a wonderful breath of fresh air to realize that there is still a country we can return to, and for which we can still have hope.
This week began with another mass shooting -- the 16th since Newtown in December. As the president presides over yet another grim memorial service, it's time for an honest assessment of what is really happening in our culture. Yes, we need better background checks and mental health screening, but we need to also look deeper -- at the root causes that lead to nearly 32,000 gun deaths a year, and over 1 million Americans taking part in gang activities. Matthew Dowd defined "the real core problem" as "poverty of the soul." And fixing it will require more compassion, less division and the recognition that our common humanity is greater than our differences. On Thursday, Pope Francis took a step in that direction, faulting the Catholic Church for being "obsessed" with gays and abortion at the expense of the larger mission. "We must always consider the person," he said. Our well-being as a nation depends on it.