Saturday, January 24, 2009

Shades of Hopelessness

I often don’t know what to say.

Many have spoken in the past about the importance of speaking out, even when you’re unsure; sometimes I think my own fear of speaking out imperfectly – of getting something wrong – is an artifact of my white liberal consciousness, and sometimes I think it’s tiredness after a day of swimming from fractured consciousness to fractured consciousness, and sometimes I think it’s an excuse to do nothing, eat ice cream, and enjoy a life where my neighbors (or people across the planet) aren’t dropping bombs and my apartment is standing, with running water and electricity and internet.

A lot of the time, I’m just not sure.

And perhaps the desire for surety itself is an artifact of other ways of thinking which impedes what’s in my mind, and perhaps the desire for surety is one learned from the histories I’ve read of sure people who could exist with clean consciousnesses.

My consciousness these days seems shaded with smoke and blood. Obscured by suffering that isn’t mine, and often suffering that is at a distance.

There is suffering in Gaza, and Iraq, and Afghanistan, and the suffering of one place doesn’t make the suffering of the others any less, but it does make it harder to hold in hands I can wash clean at the sink, standing in a living room unmarked by ash and bombs and death.

There is a part of me which wants forgiveness for this laziness; this privilege, but another part which knows the desire for forgiveness is centering myself, centering whiteness and liberality again, in a world that needs a different center.

I am not an organizer, or a letter writer. I’m lucky if I can remember to contact the people I love regularly, or do my dishes, or take care of my cat. These days anything beyond tracking my clients and being with them seems impossibly hard, including writing papers and reading books. There are days I don’t want to get out of bed – it all seems to futile, and I won’t manage anything anyway, so just sleep, just rest, just laze in comfort and forget those who don’t have beds, whose families are torn, whose lives are so far from mine.

Selfish and horrible, right?

Some days, all I have is the hope that if I hold faith that a way out is possible, a shining thread will appear by the Minotaur to show me the way out.

But last time, Theseus left Ariadne abandoned on an island.

The underpinnings of these stories are diseased.

And then I remember shocked comments about “How can people live like that.” They have no choice. If the US were attacked tomorrow, and where I live was pinned in, and I survived, I would try to keep going, too – now because of a “how” but simply because the alternative is even worse.

The US continues to take unilateral action in Pakistan, a sovereign state, in a continuation of policies which began by attacking Afghanistan and Iraq, both also sovereign states. The rational is defense of our people.

The underpinnings of these stories are diseased.

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