Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Red Telephone Redux

I found out about Boston from J. For the past month we've been studying with Sabrina Orah Mark.  "Deirdre, just to let you know I am thinking of you in light of this Boston incident," J emailed me. I remember I had this moment where I sat in my driveway wondering why I was associated with Boston.  But then all too quickly I understood what she meant. 

The day before, Sunday, we'd discussed my September 11th piece- the day when my two lives- before and after Escuela Caribe- became one.  Until that day I'd done my best to  compartmentalize- blocking the worst aspects of my repressive childhood, especially being locked up in an evangelical reform school during the buildup to the First Gulf War.  I was at Escuela Caribe when we dropped bombs over Baghdad.   I was at Escuela Caribe and terrified- we'd been told that the END is HAPPENING NOW (1991)...oh, the echoes of Jim JonesThe new section, the one J referenced, explores my reaction to September 11th, how it affected not only me post- 9/11, but America and the implications for the rest of the world.

And now we have come full circle to Boston. Again, people are hurt.  Again, innocents have died. Again, we focus minutely on destruction in America- not what is happening in the rest of the world. Again the coverage is rife with propagandawhich Roxane Gay nailed early last week.  Again those in power are using the attacks to justify eroding our civil rights. Slate actually published an article arguing for more surveillance. (And also one where we shouldn't judge the media if we want our news quick- seriously?). 

Take the calls for more surveillance seriously. You don't want it. I know what it is like to live in a fascist state where your every move is watched- and here I am not talking about America post- 9/11 but life at Escuela Caribe- where every gesture was scrutinized to determine how you think/thought/felt.  It was crazy-making, and I don't want it here in the United States where my child is living, or any other child, no matter her or his class or creed.
All I want now is what Steve Almond argued for here- more empathy, not emoting. We need to ask why people feel marginalized in the United States and the world. Instead of pointing fingers we need to practice what every major religion deems to be the guiding principle, to love our neighbor as ourselves, to treat them as we want to be treated- and only then, from that place of understanding, can we understand and prevent acts of horror committed in our world.

"They're locking them up today/ they're throwing away the key/ I wonder who it will be tomorrow/ you or me..." - Love

Monday, April 1, 2013

Everyone Carried the Cross at Escuela Caribe

  On Good Friday, we took turns hauling a cross up the cacita to the peak of our part of the mountain. We started with the highest ranking staff member, the director, Phil Redwine, and concluded with the zero levelers, all according to house. (To this day I despise hierarchies of any kind). We'd stop along the way at intervals and different staff members would read what I now realize were sections from the Stations of the Cross.  
   Odd fact: you can actually buy Stations of the Cross themed jewelry- I debated over a bracelet at my favorite Orlando vintage store last year, but decided against it- didn't want to creep Child-Thing out.
   I took part in two different Good Friday celebrations.  This picture is from my second, in March 1991.  Allison P. has assumed the cross.  Mike H., Director of Discipline (he actually used a strap called "Mr. Brown"), is to her left.  Phil is on her right.  We are about two-thirds of the way up the cacita- Hyuck House is in the background.
   At the top the cross was placed in a hole that had previously been dug. We prayed, then Kathy Jo sang, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" And we all joined in- "Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble..." At that time, it did, because it was this glorious bonding experience, the whole school assembled on the peak at sunrise. I remember thinking that if every day at Escuela Caribe were like Good Friday, when we were united to worship or help others with service projects (once we built a school way back in the campo) I could understand why we were there.
  But it's not like I focus on this all the time, just when anniversaries come up, and I remember for two years I hauled a cross up the cacita to honor Christ, but then on the same day witnessed or received abuse. And I think of how the staff never realized their lack of compassion was a violation of what Jesus considered to be the greatest commandment, to treat others as you want to be treated.  And that can lead me down a whole rabbit hole of the cognitive dissonance in mainstream Christianity-unless I stop myself, short-circuit that thought with this one-    it was all so weird...