Saturday, December 8, 2007

i speak for the trees

Have you heard the saying, "can't see the forest for the trees"? Well, forget about it for a minute. I'd like you to take a closer look at those trees. I'd like to make an argument in favor of occasional myopia.

To those who may revel in the idea of the downfall or a comeuppance for the US, I'm well aware that my government has done its share of evil. Even so, sometimes the big picture is a thin wash. Sometimes the angels are in the details.

Let's zoom in. Here's one focal point. See that lady with the improvised, green bucket drum and the drumsticks?

That's my mom. That's Washington, D.C. in the background. She took a break from picketing alongside the highway in her hometown to take a loooong bus trip out for this march. She also walked with others in the local 4th of July parade, protesting the war and was received by both hoots and heckling from the crowd. She has since moved from a blue state to a red state, into a small and very modest home—the first she's ever independently owned in her life. No doubt she'll be speaking her mind in her new neighborhood, too, but you'll not see that speck of blue on the map.

Or maybe cast your mind's eye on my pops who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War (Yes, I know. Another one we shouldn't have taken on.), and then spent many years advocating for veterans whose bodies and minds were ravaged by war and who were then left to pick up the pieces on their own. He researched their medical conditions and symptoms, and presented their cases in hopes of securing compensation and benefits from the government. Now my dad is getting older, has many health issues, and receives substandard medical attention from the local VA Medical Center.

Or my oldest, closest, and most lovely girlfriend. She joined the Army Reserve pre-conflict to get money for education, ended up in our current foolhardy war for over a year, and came back with a cocktail of service-related health issues—some ever present and others that drop in from time to time just to remind her that they're still in residence. For a living, she works with families in crisis, helping parents with developmental delays find ways to improve parenting skills so that they can keep their children. Needless to say, it's a job that regularly puts her heart through a wringer. She worries about her husband getting laid off from his job, and about her toddler, a little piece of her heart now out walking around in the world.

I understand that the bad rap comes from truth. This informs my weltanschauung. I'm guilty of dogging my country, too, but it is a country, after all, populated with many good people. Maybe you could root for them? Some of us are trying to do right.

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."

All this aside, much love to my Canadian peeps. Peace out.


Leila said...

Thanks for this Erin. Good to remember. The US is an amazing country that is being ill-served by its government. After all, America is the country that, immediately after 9-11, saw sales of the Koran hit the roof. Bush drove the possibilities for peace and understanding into the ground. That is unfortunate. But I have faith in a country that can produce such people as Pete Seeger, Noam Chomsky, Gloria Steinem and Serena Williams. Oh, and you too. ;-)
Hey, your mom rocks!!

Cool Ranch Luke said...

You raise an excellent point that I completely failed to address, and I apologize. My beef (and I suspect the meat of most complaints against the US) is with the state, and not the people.

The people, like all people, are wonderful, friendly, beautiful trees in a scary, dark, evil wood.

And too often we mistake a person for their nationality, and presume a representation of their state (or race, or religion, or sexual orientation) that simply does not exist. This is called prejudice and I am (and I think we all are) guilty of it.

Thanks once again for shining a light on the dark things that need changing.

Leila said...

Erin, Phil only talks like that to you.