This Thing Called Courage

Monday, November 06, 2006

Nursing the Sick


USUALLY ON MONDAY NIGHTS I head two towns over to Arlington, where a bunch of us from United for Justice With Peace (UJP) gather to protest the war every Monday night. We stand with our signs and our outrage and our jokes at the corner of Massachusetts Ave and Route 60, in the bustling heart of Arlington Center.

It's always an interesting experience, and the other folks in the group are always an inspiration, and a reminder of what we need more of in this country: citizens, not consumers. Before the current war started, and we were out there doing our thing (along with 100,000,000 people across the globe the Saturday before the war started) we would get a somewhat good amount of positive feedback (honks of horns, waves, and thumbs up)-- as well as the occasional angry outburst, usually from someone in a truck or SUV, about 'supporting the troops.' It always bemuses me how people allegedly in support of our troops can acquiesce, in fact even support, their deployment overseas, to kill and die for corporate profit. Imagine what the half a trillion dollars we've blown in Iraq (most of it going to corporate friends of this administration) could have accomplished on the positive side of the ledger: hospitals, schools, education, health care, AIDS relief, etc ect. It would be so wonderful to have people in positions of power who truly longed and thirsted to serve people, and make the world a better place.

The other folks are, to a degree, what one might expect: the men have scraggly beards and are usually of a certain age; the women don't wear make-up and have kind smiles and eyes; they all speak gently; they have questionable posture and don't, by all appearences, go to gyms, or wear fashionable clothing. They are the salt of the earth.

I sometimes wonder where the other GLBT people are. When I worked as a reporter for Bay Windows one summer (back in 1987-- I quit because they wanted me to keep office hours, something that was, and is, anathema to me) I was so impressed by the passion, ingenuity, and determination of such groups as ActUp, ActOut, and many others-- more often that not, I would drop my notebook and join in with them as we stormed the offices of pettifogging bureaucrats while the band played on. I loved their humor too-- one time when we were protesting then-Governor Dukakis' ban on gays and lesbians adopting children, things got a little raucous as we tried to demonstrate in front of a rich hotel for a very expensive fundraiser for The Duke. The Boys in Blue were summoned of course and people started getting arrested for exercising their First Amendment rights. Now, this was when police first began wearing plastic gloves to arrest gay folks-- they didn't want to get the cooties, apparently. Anyway, as citizens were led off to the Paddy Wagons (an ethnic slur I resent, but will emply for the sake of clarity) people began chanting, "Your gloves don't match your hats! Your gloves don't match your hats!" I was so proud to be-- well, I won't say g-a-y then, because I have never used that word to describe myself, and never will, as it's someone else's word for me; no, and I don't like queer either. But I was proud to be a member of this distinct subset that night-- and the humor was so Irish-- satire in the face of despair and adversity.

So, where are all the GLBT folks in the face of endless war, corruption, utter ineptitude, environmental assaults, the shredding of our Constitutional rights, the horror that was Katrina, the lies, the deception, the spying, the torture, etc etc etc?

Where is everybody else, for that matter. But, one might think, with the passion and committment we once had, we could sure use a little of that now. I'm just sending that question out into the universe.

Anyway, getting back to Monday Night Peaceball: it's been a long time now since I've heard any such anti-anti-war outbursts, and support for our work seems to be growing. People have had enough.

But I won't be going over tonight, as I'm nursing the sick. Fionn the Dog had his annual physical this morning, and I'm happy to report he is in perfect health. In fact Kev Fallon, our vet, marvelled at his strentgh, especially in the back legs. (Must be all that leaping for joy when Daddy gets home! See Leaping Fionn pic above.) Of course, it did take four of us to hold him down (even when he was muzzled) so they could draw blood, then give him his booster shot for Lime Disease and Distemper...

He seemed fine at first after we left. But when we got home, he laid at my feet, and didn't move-- not even when I served luncheon out in the kitchen for him some time later. He was, in fact, trembling, lying on the floor, and when I picked him up he shrieked out in pain. He's having a bit of a reaction to the shots, and a lot of pain where he got the shots, and I am frantic of course. The Vet says it's normal for some dogs-- and now he seems much better, and in fact just ate his lunch now, and has gone back to sleep. I know he'd be fine if I left him for an hour and a half, and I was looking forward to tonight because, right before the election, the energy will be espeically positv-- but one of the things I so love and admire about the companions I have had that we call dogs is their silent witnessing to you, their...well, just being with you. I am reminded of Gethsemene, when Jesus is having his King Lear moment of unbridled, breathtaking despair, and he asks three of his disciples to stay with him, to be with him in this hour, and how they fall asleep. Perhaps he should have brought Fionn and Biscuit and Rocky, and the other creatures I have been blessed to live with. When you're sick, down, blue, full of grief, etc, they sense this-- and just lay by your side. They don't say I told you so; they don't give advice; they don't say they'd love to hang out with you but tonight isn't convenient; they just siddle up silently with the big eyes, heave a sigh, and lay with you.

So I figured the least I could do for Fionn tonight is just hang with him in his hour of dis-ease. I think he appreciates it. And it's a special kind of grace to be able to do that.

It's not a great thing, but it is a good thing.

So, with any luck, we might be looking at the last near-full moon that will rise on a USA squealing out in pain from six years of Facism...or is it Fascism? By this time tomorrow night, the nightmare might begin to be over. Don't forget to vote.

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