In this engaging memoir, Stephen Karakashian traces the terrain of the personal, professional, and geographical with insight and humility. Driven by curiosity and guided by compassion, the author eloquently chronicles his anything but ordinary life.
The child of an adventurous American mother and Palestinian Armenian father, Karakashian traces his immigrant roots from the Middle East, to smoky, small-town Appalachia, to the halls of prestigious research universities and the creation of a new public college considered radical for its time, and beyond. Interwoven with philosophical reflections on human kinship with other living things and one another, the author recounts coping with his identity as a gay married man and father of two in the aftermath of the Stonewall rebellion. Throughout Karakashian's incredible and varied career, he has managed to find the humanity in disparate, and sometimes desperate, circumstances: whether during the AIDS crisis working with young gay men facing certain death, or as an international observer during the world-shaking 1994 South African election, or his subsequent human rights work in Africa.
The binding thread in this astonishing and clear-eyed recounting is a sensitivity to, and respect for, life in all its forms and variations, as well as a deep, abiding desire to be a force for good in the world.
Now retired, Stephen Karakashian continues to use his training and experience in biology, psychotherapy, and the arts. He helped establish a system of marine reserves to protect endangered ocean life off the coast of Oregon where he now lives. He works with the Institute for Healing of Memories—North America which employs group methods developed in South Africa to help heal people in this country traumatized by racism, sexism, and poverty. The arts are also a form of healing, and his tapestries are based on his Armenian family’s painful history, yet have a redemptive quality through his use of rich colors to depict disturbing scenes of persecution.
Karakashian has a PhD in Biology and is a professionally certified psychotherapist, his most meaningful work has been in promoting diversity and social justice, and human rights and healing.