Sunday, March 18, 2007

Meanwhile, A Peaceful Sunday Night

Trying not to stay in the dark place too long. That "a human neckbone at his feet" phrase, those four horrific iambs, became an obsessive mantra yesterday when I was pounding around the neighborhood, trying to walk off the effects of grading 40 freshman papers, and struck by a commentary from Iraq I'd heard earlier on NPR. And I'm so worried about the bees. What are we doing to this beautiful world?

Iraq: The Big Story of the new generation. My husband's two sons, probably immune; my stepson from my first marriage, probably old enough at 37 to escape. My nephew, an electrician, robust and smart -- probably immune. But these young kids whose names and pictures show up every night on the Lehrer News Hour and every Sunday on This Week with Stephanopoulos, damn, my friends, they are children, and most of them are from the small towns of America, as others have aptly noted. Children. And those who don't die -- come home carrying the memory of horror in their hearts. We will have something immense and dark and troubling with us for decades to come. I hope we have enough love to take them in and give them what they need to heal.

But I'd promised myself not to stay in the dark place. Listening to Dylan, "Love and Theft," my favorite cuts "Mississippi" and the sweet "Moonlight." Earlier, I let myself be awash in a gorgeous CD of Tongan music my San Bruno friend Emile Hons passed along a couple of weeks ago -- the soothing harmonies of Kuila -- with dogs barking in the background. Oh, that takes me back to those languid kava parties in 'Osamu's little oval hut of long ago. It makes me feel better to hear these peaceable songs and sip a little wine and relax. Here's to finding pleasure after a dip into the dark places. Here's to music that soothes the savage breast.


B. Forbes said...

Si'i Macy/Sanisi - Your post of Sunday eve struck several more chords with me, so I'm going to comment on one of them during a quick, Monday lunch break. I know most of us are painfully aware of how much Iraq feels like Vietnam did to us a generation ago. Looking back in American history I see other Iraqs and Vietnams that confronted generations before us -- Korea, Cuba, Philippines, Mexico -- not to speak of the horrors of two World Wars in the 20th Century, preceded by the bloodiest conflict our country has ever known in the mid-19th Century, and the protracted revolt of our ancestors against colonial rule in the 18th Century before that. I fear that War is so ingrained in our American economy and social fabric that we just cannot let a generation go by without engaging in at least one. John Kennedy recognized our culture's pattern of recurring war and made a valiant attempt to break that pattern by giving life his brother-in-law's brainchild, the Peace Corps. The thousands of us who signed up during the 1960's and 1970's were personally inspired by his words and believed them wholeheartedly. Whenever the daily news takes me to dark places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, the Sudan, or Palestine, among others, I remember how so many of us have devoted 2 years of our lives to doing something different, trying to break that mold. Look around us today and we see many young people still inspired by the Peace Corps and a variety of other alternatives to fighting. As long I can see those efforts continue, I have a reason to come out of my dark place.
Toki sio atu,
Lopeti F.

Macy Swain said...

Thank you, Bob, for these thoughts. Your call to hope is inspiring and reassuring.