When I first thought about joining the Foreign Service, the place I looked first to get an idea of what it would be like was the blogosphere. There are a lot of FS people out there blogging about their lives in the Foreign Service. All sorts of topics are covered: gay/straight; married/single; with and without kids / pets / etc. Basically - there's something for everyone.
The Foreign Service Blogosphere is also a great community. Fellow bloggers comment on each other's blogs and offer help and advice - or just words of support. We may not all be going through the same things at the same times, but many of the issues or complications can be similar. And - if it hasn't happened to you yet, it may someday.
There is one blog in particular that I had read with avid interest from the beginning. Perhaps because it was about a family. Perhaps because when I started reading about them, they had been living in the East Bay near where I was living. Perhaps because it was interesting and heartfelt and honest. Either way, I began following it regularly. Many of the posts were about Foreign Service issues, and many were just about family issues - but it was all pertinent and gave me a great perspective.
And then came the October posts where they faced some very serious challenges. I followed along, reading everything and hoping for the best as they coped with many challenges. And I was gladdened to read about the support they received from fellow bloggers, the FS community and the State Department.
Fast forward to this January when I learned that I had to face similar challenges. Luckily for me, the challenges haven't been nearly as intense, but they've been scary nonetheless. I went back and reread all the posts again. It was so helpful to get information - both about the State Department, and ideas about coping with my own health issues.
As I blogged about what was going on with me, I too got a lot of support from the FS blogging community. I even heard from the person who's blog had helped me so much. We began to correspond, I got some great advice and tips. And when I was in DC for treatment, we were even able to get together for dinner.
Her experience has been very helpful and informative for me - as a member of the Foreign Service community - and as a person.
Interestingly, this past week, her blog came under fire as she continued to blog about her health issues and the details involved. Information that I have always found interesting and more recently found to be incredibly helpful and applicable suddenly became controversial. A word that I associate with love and sustenance suddenly was taboo. I abhor censorship and find it incredibly sad when words in our language
become taboo. Nipples provide sustenance and pleasure. That's all.
They don't promote hate - they promote love. Why would they ever be
The controversy set off quite a storm both within the Foreign Service blogosphere and the larger internet world as well.
It seems we like learning and knowing about the whole experience, not just a limited range. And making certain words taboo is unacceptable.