Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day Two

Peaceful morning with Sophie


Babysitter comes in early afternoon


Visit to acupuncturist and lunch with doctor afterward


Aimless strolling through Blick Art Store and admiration for papers and pens and beautiful journals


Bought ticket to and watched the Italian film Vincere, the story of Benito Mussolini's first wife, Ida. She and Mussolini had a very passionate love affair when he was only an editor of a "revolutionary" newspaper; she bore him a son but as he continued to rise to power and to utter derangement, she was denied by him and actually lived for many, many years in an insane asylum. Her son was taken from her guardians during the very scary fascist times and eventually died in an insane asylum as well. This was a very passionate movie made especially effective with black and white clips of Mussolini screaming to the crowds. I couldn't help but think of the current passions running so high in the United States, today, especially in the aftermath of healthcare reform. It made me feel angry that people in this country, those that are protesting the loudest about government takeover and socialism and all that garbage, have the nerve to do so. When I am reminded of the true nature of despotism and of fascism and how it rises from real destitution, it's hard to take seriously, to have nothing but disdain for those who are comparing it to our country, now. I'm not a scholar and I'm the first to say that I probably don't know more than I do know, but when I hear these people ranting and raving about Obama and comparing him to Hitler or Lenin, I have to think DUMB. It's just plain dumb. As I drove home through traffic after my very satisfying afternoon of relaxation, popcorn, diet coke and a really good, transporting movie, I thought about how technology and education and awareness have all conspired to make the world a very different place and that really education and awareness are what it's all about. I thought how the fundamentalists of all persuasions try to staunch progress and stymie education, how their "leadership" is based on fear. I thought about the eight or so dumb-ass lunatics caught in Michigan yesterday who were conspiring against the evils of government with Jesus on their side. I read that most had not finished high school and some had never gone to school. I thought of all those tea-baggers with their silly white people agendas, afraid that the America they know and love has gone the way of "the blacks" and "the Mexicans." I thought of myself and the twinge of almost fear I felt when I saw the "report card" of the school that Sophie goes to -- a school on the edge of the hood where you are hard put to see any white students at all. The report card gave statistics -- how many Hispanics, how many African Americans, how many Asians, etc. How many whites? 0%. Zero percent Caucasian which means, since Sophie is definitely a student at the school, she is in such a minority that it's less than 1%. The twinge of fear is replaced, for me, by wonder. Wonder to be alive in a world that is growing faster than I can imagine -- a world that will, maybe, perhaps be more tolerant and diverse than we might imagine -- or not.  Vincere means win, and the movie makes clear that winning is ambiguous. Ida remained fearless throughout her life and uncompromising about who she was (Mussolini's wife and the mother of his heir), but she and her son died and were never recognized as sane or even persons of dignity; they were both buried in common graves. Mussolini beat them, in a sense, but he himself was eventually executed, hung by his heels by the people. These are the thoughts I had as I snaked my way home to my girl.



  1. Yes, I am fearful too. I see the lack of compassion, the lack of understanding, the willful ignorance as in "don't confuse with the facts" attitude and I wonder what happened to my generation and what will happen to those behind our present generation? Didn't we do it right? Didn't we want peace at any price except human sacrifices? Didn't we go to College and teach and learned and tried, god how we tried to do the right thing. Didn't we open the doors for respect and tolerance?

    We did, didn't we? We thought
    we did and we rested because we wanted to believe that it wasn't in vain.

    Who are we as a nation anymore? Where does all this hatred come from? Because Obama is black and because he made himself a path and somehow by working from the street reached the Presidency? I have heard vitriol and poison spewed out of the mouth of men of the cloth. How? when did they learn to spread the fear and become hatred mongers while polishing their collars and brandishing the cross?
    I don't have the answer and so many questions. Like you I want to believe that truth and honor and self respect and respect for others will win in the end. If there is any way to do it, I hope we as a people can find our way back to the decent and honorable country we once were before the thugs came and took over our laws and our justice.

  2. What a great day for you. I'm so glad that these moments and hours are being filled with what sounds like rejuvenation in mind, body and spirit. God bless you!

  3. First...on the lighter side...I too love fine papers and inky things...so beautiful.

    Second...and this has always baffled me...most Americans know Canada has universal medicare...but do they see us as Communists? Do we look repressed,,or controlled (maybe cold) or "socialist" (and I don't quite even know what that means)? I don't get it...really...just look up folks and we're just as free as you are...but we do pay some high taxes...but not so much medical insurance. It balances out, don't you think?

  4. Thank you, Elizabeth and Allegra, for "saying it" for me. I'm a child of the south and can truly say that I'm embarrassed by my fellow countrymen in many walks of life. I swelled with pride when my home state of Virginia went "blue". I had spent two weeks in late October there and was in a "sea" of McCain/Palin signs. I never thought I'd see an African/American elected president. I never thought I'd see the republican party as united against that president. I never thought I'd see such "vitriol and poison spewed out of the mouths ofmen of the cloth". To Claire: The only comments I've heard about Canada and it's system of health care has been repeated over and over "if medicine is so good there, why do so many come here for health care". I think you are a friendly and happy people and I enjoy spending time in your country.

    Still hoping for the best,

  5. Sounds like a very interesting movie. I will have to look for it! Hope you have a great weekend.

  6. My daughter went with her husband and mother-in-law to visit her husband's grandparents this week and she was so worried about it. These grandparents are big Glen Beckers and of course my daughter was raised on NPR and my rants against ignorance and prejudice. "What do I say?" she asked me, "When they start in on that shit?"
    "You don't have to say anything," I told her. "They are coming from a place of fear and ignorance. And they are old."
    I think you are right- so much of this BS comes from the inability to THINK, the refusal to try and see the world through eyes that understand with an open heart. It takes a long time to read an entire article in the New Yorker. NPR makes you think.
    A lot of people don't have the intelligence or the will or the patience to think.
    Too many. Obviously. Too many.

  7. what great thoughts. i wish i had been in the car with you, or better yet--had been at the movies.

    i'm so disgusted and shocked by the collective voice of vitriol. i wish they didn't get a moment's press. let them shout into the wind.

  8. Allegra - Agreed on each and every count!

    Karen - I AM blessed. And thank you for adding to them!

    Claire - Go figure...

    From the Kitchen: I grew up largely in the south, too -- but I think the things you hear about health care are similar in their complexity and lack thereof to the old, tired descriptions of Democrats tax and spend, etc. etc.

    likeschocolate - it was a great movie, although very disturbing, too

    ms. moon - my own family is very conservative - I try very hard now to not talk about anything political or religious

    kyra - yes, let it blow in the wind

  9. You are a walking miracle. Courageous. And I so appreciate your post; well, all of your postings.

    This IS the work of heart and mind-opening.


  10. my dear elizabeth,

    i have come half a dozen times to your comment box...unsure where to begin, overwhelmed by the complexity of the issue, and afraid, to some extent, of being categorized or misunderstood.

    i have also been deeply rattled by the seething anger floating on the wind since last week's vote.

    although (having grown up in a country with a long history of genocide and oppression) i am less surprised by ignorance and racism as i am by elected official's neglect to distance themselves from this dangerous fommenting of division (on both 'sides of the aisle').

    i am 100% behind universal health care, deeply disturbed by the bill as it stands, and worried that our collective mental illness is distracting us from forcing the government to make legislation work for people rather than corporations.

    i live in bedford-stuyvesant, where it is clear that there is, in fact, genuine destitution in this and many corners of the country, fueling the fire of identity politics(again, on all sides).

    add to this a conscious cultivation of fear that has encouraged many people to sit well with spending upwards of $977,000,000,000 (http://costofwar.com) on war since 2001, while feeling taxed without representation when considering an investment in the health of tax-paying citizens and non-citizens.

    i am concerned about the situation that will be created by a dearth of affordable care for undocumented folks who find themselves with communicable diseases within the nation's borders, my rights as a woman, and the fact that i already fall into a category of folks unqualified for assistance, yet unable to afford insurance (the federal guidlines for poverty has a family of four surviving on $22k or less per year!!!).

    have i said too much? too little? in the end, it seems we would all to well with more facts.

    i sometimes check in with physicians for a national health program (http://www.pnhp.org/), though i am not certain their perspective is any more objective than anyone else's.

    as someone who has an understanding of the healthcare issue that is far above average, is there a resource which you recommend for those straining to hear clear, sober voices above the din?

    may we all rise above this present skurmish, grow our compassion, and see to the needs of our neighbors as well as our own.


  11. Aside from knowing that this country has passed "healthcare reform," I have to say that I have absolutely no freaking CLUE what that means. Maybe it's good, maybe it's very, very bad. I don't know. (I will also admit to not following the cause all that closely.)

    As Tip O'Neill once said, "All politics is local." Once it starts affecting me and my life individually, it's really hard for me to grasp the bigger picture.

  12. I should have been clearer in "what I'd heard about Canadian Health Care". Agree with you, Elizabeth.

    Hope you and Sophie have had a good day.


  13. I want to see the movie too.

    I am so disgusted with people these days. It seems fear and hatred is the playing card of the political right, and the christian right, traditionally less educated, buys into it without thought. And when one tells them that they are played, they refuse to believe it.
    I asked a friend of my mother's why is abortion such an issue with her? Why does she think that God places more importance on the unborn than the already born and suffering. She changed the subject.

  14. Adrienne -- I agree with you completely and didn't get around to saying in this post, or expressing, my deep misgivings about the bill as it stands. That we live in an oligarchy as opposed to a true democracy, is what I believe and while I think the concessions made to the insurance companies and corporate interests are immense and grotesque, the fact remains that a whole lot of people are going to be insured now. I also wonder, though, about all the loopholes (already there's one with children with pre-existing conditions) and my cynical side believes it's all a load of shit and money rules. That there are many people like me out there who really want reform that isn't based entirely on power and money and cost but on humanitarian terms does give me hope and takes the edge off my cynicism. It's a small step but a symbolic one. I seriously doubt we will ever have universal coverage, though, not given the strident nature of the opposition and just plain ignorance.

  15. Hey, there's an award for you on my blog tomorrow!



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