June 16, 2002

The Reawakening

Posted in Politics at 11:35 pm by Nova Newcomer

When September 11th happened, along with many people, I fell into a deep despair about the world around me. For me, it was less about the specifics of the event, though they were horrific, but more about the state of humanity. Everyone jockeyed for position, ranking this event among the worst in history. I was a bit more hesitant to make such conclusions and not because it did not terrify me. Rather, I wondered why this atrocity had such an effect on me and the lives lost in other places just ticked by on cnn while I ran on the treadmill. It seems an affront to humanity that somehow US lives matter more. Somehow the lives of the people in countries we continue to exploit don't matter as much. And even the lives of our fellow citizens who suffer and/or die from systemic flaws don't amount to the lives of those lost on September 11th. I was focused on the despair but ever so lost on action.

Before I managed to formulate a plan for myself, we all got back to living somehow and yes, I even went back to the gym. Those extra pounds around the waist mattered again. Regular programming came back to our televisions. Suddenly, that world that came crashing down on us last fall seemed distant and the bombs we pay for with our labor day in and day out dropped on someone else's children.

As a self-titled Bleeding Heart Liberal (I can't imagine a nicer thing to say about someone), I come in and out of guilt. I feel guilty for not doing enough. I feel guilty for doing the wrong thing. I feel guilty for having been born here in a country relatively free of the war we see in distant places. I feel guilty knowing that the country I live in and help finance is guilty of the violence in these places. That's a lot of guilt for a non-Catholic and I needed a release, but not one that plummeted me into complacency. I wanted to stand up and be heard, instead of complaining to friendly ears about how there is no way to make a difference.Nova and Michael Moore!

Sometimes you need a jump-start. I got that in the form of a Michael Moore lecture in April at Lewis & Clark College in Portland. My brother-in-law was able to get tickets for me, my sister, my brother, a friend of ours and himself. The lecture started at 7:00. Vanessa and Dal got there about 3:00. Gabe and I got there about 4:00. We wanted to make sure we had good seats. I even brought a camera so I could immortalize the event (got a book signed by Mike and a picture with him!!!). By the time 7:00 rolled around, the gymnasium at Lewis & Clark was filled to the brim with people. The organizers asked for people to scoot in as close as possible so they could fit more people in. Those of us with actual seats muttered under our breath about potential fire code violations as person after person filled up the aisle, but I was definitely encouraged by the show of support for Michael Moore.

Moore is the director of the critically-acclaimed documentary, Roger & Me. He also directed, "The Big One," a documentary about his book tour for "Downsize This!" and recently had the #1 Bestseller on the New York Times list and Amazon.com for his latest book, "Stupid White Men." Michael Moore has his detractors, but he is a political role model of mine. And it's not because he is perfect or has all the answers, but because he uses his influence and his meager pop culture status, to spread the word that all is not content in the U S of A — that we can and should do better by people.

The lecture was nearly two months ago, so not everything he said is still fresh in my mind but the spirit of his talk is very much with me today. I remember sitting in the audience and hearing him give example after example of how we have allowed our government to be taken from us and how the current administration has exploited the suffering of this nation after September 11th to further their agenda of hate, secrecy and wealth privilege. I was inspired that night through Michael Moore's tales of his reluctant activism in his youth to his deliberate protest of the current state of affairs today and reminded of the optimism I have for making a difference in this world. It may sound a bit cheesy, but I truly believe that in small ways we can facilitate free thought and encourage people to think beyond their respective cul-de-sac.

At the lecture, an audience member notified MM that there was a anti-war march/rally the next day that was going to start at Holladay Park at Lloyd Center and end up at Pioneer Courthouse Square downtown. I knew about it, but had not yet committed to going. However, being at that lecture really brought things into perspective for me for about the billionth time in my life (we really do have short attention spans). I decided right then and there that I was going to that rally and not out of guilt, but more out of respect for my own beliefs — to actually give an outlet for this despair that had been dormant in me for some time, particularly following September 11th.

I am going to write about the rally in a separate entry as there are a few other issues I would like to address regarding that event, but I will close this entry with a poem that I wrote in the early days after 9-11. I was sad, angry and wholly confused by a world filled with such hate and contempt and I reference not only the people in those planes and those who helped plan, but those people who refuse to look inward and recognize the difference they themselves can make to further the cause of peace.

Resolve for Disintegration

Trapped inside
Steel hearts and concrete veins
Shattered, torn from safety
Red, white and blue
The color of blood
That bleeds from a gaping wound
A symbol now a hole.

Hatred, ignorance
Beating the same drum
Of death and sorrow
Though tears fall
No one to prevent the flood
Question the truth
A lie now uncovered.

Tomorrow beckons
We answer without fear
A nation's solidarity
Excuses the carnage
Waiting in the wings
Exacting almighty revenge
Horror now displaced.

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