“I Am Not Your Enemy”

In my rush to read fifty books in 2019, about an hour ago I turned the last page of “Life Undercover. Coming of Age in the CIA” by Amaryllis Fox.

Fox, 38, asks in the NYTimes article above, “Is our job to be at home reading ‘Goodnight Moon’ every night, or is it to go out and make the world we’re going to gift our kids better? The answer is both, but how do we do that?”

She spent most of her 20s gallivanting around the globe working for the CIA. Fighting fear she utilized spy tactics to thwart “bad guys” from deploying dirty bombs that killed innocent civilians.

It wasn’t easy grappling with false identities, wrote Fox, questioning the reality of her life undercover, most likely as the youngest female CIA agent ever.

I’ve never yearned to be a CIA agent. Since I started traveling internationally about a decade ago, being a mensch is probably the best I can do.

Some of our most worthwhile diplomacy might be funding massive foreign exchanges for U.S. citizens of all ages. Everyone harbors stereotypes or fear of people in foreign countries, especially with negligible travel experiences outside of the United States. F

In 2013, friends warned me not to go to Turkey, that it was dangerous.

“Life Undercover” reminded me of that trip.

Walking around Istanbul by myself was an adventure. Heading toward the Grand Bazaar, the oldest and largest covered market in the world, founded in the mid-1400s, I was fearful.


Women dressed in full-length swishing black chadors, women wearing head coverings or not, tourists speaking French and German.

A fragrant and colorful spice shop, like an oasis from the masses, drew me inside.


Do I look nervous?

The young proprietor, I think his name was Muhammad, brought me a glass of tea.

He spoke English. “What, you haven’t had Turkish Delight?” He brought me samples. I handed over Turkish lira. He took my photo. I took his.


But the best part of our exchange was when he leaned toward me and quietly said, “I am not your enemy.”

Does Amaryllis Fox, a former CIA agent know this, too? I believe she does.

This entry was posted in Politics, The Rest of the World, Tucson Festival of Books/good books and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to “I Am Not Your Enemy”

  1. Phyl Brazee says:

    I loved this post, Sheila! It’s where we all need to go/be in 2020.

  2. sheilawill says:

    Thank you Phyl Brazee, former director of the Peace Studies Institute at the University of Maine!

  3. Good and well-written post, Sheila. I’m reading SECRECY: The CIA’S War at Home by Angus Mackenzie, published in 1997. It gives a very different picture of the CIA’s domestic involvement in infiltrating and disrupting the antiwar movement and the underground press, which was the spine of the antiwar movement. FBI and local authorities were also involved.

  4. sydvinflynn says:

    Thanks, Sheila.Nice post.

  5. sheilawill says:

    Thanks for your comment, Sydney!

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