This Thing Called Courage

Monday, September 03, 2007

Iran: Bombs Away? And Sustainability-- the Emotional Kind

I AM LITERALLY ALMOST SICK with the increasing reports of the 'inevitability' of an upcoming massive air strike against Iran. There was a piece in yesterday's London Times detailing the madness. Talk about the definition of insanity. Apparently, there isn't enough blood on their hands yet; apparently, we have not yet reached the lowest, Dantean Hell they wish to drag us down to. It is in our name, and with our tax dollars, that they are doing this-- we must find a way to stop them before the slaughter of hundreds of thousands more.

Sometimes it's overwhelming, when one considers the assault this administration has launched on working people, unions, the poor, the environment, the Endanagered Species Act, the people of New Orleans, the people of Iraq, our service people, our economy, our treasury, our Constitution. But we must continue to witness against this madness, wherever and whenever we find it, and to especially remind our senators and congresspeople that such an act as launching war against Iran is utterly unacceptable. Go here to sign the petition:

Perhaps it's the nature of the imaginative, creative soul, but I carry with me, and have carried with me since the war began, the realization that while I am writing, or hiking, or sleeping, or buying food, that bombs are exploding, people are being tortured, troops and civilians are being rendered psychotic, legless, armless, blind, or lifeless. We did not need imaginations in the Vietnam Era, as, nightly, it spilled into our living rooms; in the morning it was splattered across our newspapers. It was this that ended that war-- finally, the American people had had enough. This was before the days of the 'embedded' media, in a time when the administration would not dare censor the media or ban them from showing the coffins coming home. How times have changed! How easy to drink int eh narcotic of our mass media today-- the Globe, for example, has been all excited lately about the opening of Nordstrom in Natick, when thirty five years ago there would have been two dozen stories on the insane abyss Vietnam had become--

There are I suppose many ways to avoid dealing with the reality of what we are doing: to pretend it's not happening, to block it out, to move on to something else, to realize, or theorize, how powerless we are in the face of these monstrously large machinations and movements. Does it make any difference that I write about this endlessly in my blog? Does it make any differencxe that I stand out at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Route 60 one night a week, holding a sign that says 'Health Care, Not War' ? Does it make any difference that I write my congressman weekly, like the old cat ladies (every town has one) that would pen their outrages every week in the local newspapers? I can't answer that-- and, I suppose, that's really not my business; all we can do with the times we are given is to discern what we can, and must, do. And I realize that the fact that my father woke up every night of his post-war life screaming, as he relived those unspeakable experiences on New Guinea, plays a large part of this, as does the fact that my step-father lost a leg in Korea, and that, growing up, my neighborhood was a junkyard of people recently returned from Vietnam, cruel caricatures of what they once had been.

But surely one doesn't have to have these kinds of experiences to realize that, even in the time that it takes me to write this, more children have been blown apart; more mothers have been left bereft; more soldiers have died, and more have taken a few more steps down the road to psychosis. This is happening in our name. It's really time we stopped it, and stopped the rush to do it to another couhntry, and another set of people.

What sustains me, and prevents me from burning out on all this (which is so easy to do-- I was speaking with a woman the other day who was four years ago one of the leaders in my group's anti-war activities the other day, asking her where she'd been: "I gave at the office," she said, with a grim laugh. "I had to get away from it." So understandable; what keeps me going is not rage, or disgust, or frustration and anger, although there's some of that-- but rather an understanding of how beautiful the world is, and how tragic for others to have lost their chance to experience the little epiphanies that keep me going, and delight me: how the light coming into my kitchen at this time of year, drenched in cricket sound, slants so beautifully, and the mulberry leaves it passes through dance so exquisitely across my kitchen floor. Or the Tufted Titmouse who comes to my birdbath (a make-shift high-tech frying pan from Sweden someone gave me-- I already had a frying pan, my grandmother's, one of those old fashioned heavy black cast irton ones, and when I use it I cook not only food, but memories); many birds come to this little reservoir, especially since we havn't had a drop of rain since sometime in July; but no one does it with the zest and comic bravura of this little clown. Other birds land gingerly on the edge, peer around warily, then drink as if they're pecking seed, and then decamp; not this guy. He lands like a duck in the water, smack dap in the middle, and always seems surprised; then he splashes around as if, only now, there is this new thing called water, and it is cool, and refreshing, and life giving. I hide by my back door and wait for him like God, for he always comes at lunch time; he's whiter in the face than most tufted titmice, and recalls Ceasar Romero as The Joker, with that wild white streak in his bouffont that, clearly, means trouble. The deer and coyote that I see in Happy Land, two creatures who have done a deadly pas de deux since the beginning, and probably always will, as long as there are woods to sustain them, each beautiful in an entirely different way; the mad dance of the Woodcock; the flicker of candlelight upon beautiful words on a crisp printed page; the feel of new, hung-out sheets, against my bare feet; the Parisian aroma of art papers as I begin a new painting; the apple-like smell of my nephew's hair when he comes in from playing; the juicy explosion of tomato when I crunch down on one of the Sweet 100's growing out in my side garden, still warm from the sun and lugging a bit of that orb in its juicy, hot taste; the vastness of mountains and are they blue, or purple, and how that question can occupy you for the better part of a northern afternoon as you stare from a ledge like a lover; the surprise of seeing a rabbit darting through my backyard, or a fisher cat, or a wild turkey family, when I come up the driveway from the front of my house, where four-lane Route 28 goes roaring by. The wild welcome Fionn gives me when I return from anywhere; the unparalleled feel of the just-chilly-enough Atlantic sluicing down my body as I plunge into the water. The meeting on one's lips against someone else's that you fancy. The first fire in my fireplace in late September...

I realize I could sit here til Tibb's Eve (as my grandmother would say) ticking off these things; it's not that they merely sustain me: it is these things that inform my anti-war feelings because how sad, I think, how heartbreakingly sad, that so many others will not be able to take in the delight of comic titmice in birdbaths, or the bewitching smell of Fluffy Ruffles petunias breathing out their fragrance on a cricket-drenched night. They won't know that, after all, the world is really a magic place.

Butterflies Over Boston

This Friday afternoon from 4-6 at the gazebo at Jamaica Pond, the annual Butterflies Over Boston ceremony will take place. This is a great celebration fo the Monarch Butterfly's annual migration to Mexico (can you believe it? and to the same branch that his progent came from last spring?) as well as an opportunity to learn more about these fascinating creatures, the environment, and genetically modified food (which we are all eating, whether we know it or not.) There'll be face painting, story telling, drumming, masks, dances, etc-- go here for more info and, as the old Irish said, God Bless the Work.



Blogger Chris said...

Thanks for the heads up about Butterflies over Boston. Sorry I'll miss it. It's been two weeks since I've been at Supper Program and I really want to return.

Apparently there will be a guns-or-butter showdown when Congress resumes this month. And of course, information like the following only gives the administration more of a black eye:

8:42 AM  
Blogger BiscuitsBoy said...

The Supper Program is great work. The Monarch Butterfly Program is great work. One reaps where another sows-- Karma being what it is, one September night years from now someone from the supper program may look up and be delighted by a swarm of Monarchs making their way to Mexico. God Bless the Work, Chris. And thanks for the link.

11:55 PM  

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