Is Love Enough - Michael Franti and Spearhead
Usually Memorial Day is a family holiday, a day off, a day to spend with the people I love. This year it's different because I'm far away, in another country, and I've been thinking. I've gotten a range of reactions from people when I tell them that I'm from the US. Most of the positive ones are from people who think NYC is a magical place, and they imagine that I live there and ride around in a limo and drink champagne with supermodels. Not so. Most often I get sort of an awkward "ohhh". You really reflect on your own country when you leave it behind, even if it's temporary, because you have to learn to navigate in your new environment, with new cultural norms and new social laws.
I've been robbed twice now (as I've written about) and my initial reaction is rage. Rage at a government for not employing adequate security in a HUGE city, rage at an economic structure that causes so many people to exist with so little. After fuming and storming for a while I realized what I really feel is rage at this society in which so few people extend a hand, or a smile, much less any help. Two weeks ago I started buying cookies and juice for a family of children that sits at the corner near my Subte stop. I've made friends with the business owners on my street, the man in the hardware store, the guys in the produce market, the Chinese family that owns the supermarket, the woman from Peru who sells fruit in the market on Estado de Israel. Once a week or so I visit the used book vendors near my Subte stop at school to have a chat and see what they've got. To get robbed after making these connections, after finally building a little community for myself, was almost enough to make me pull back completely. It has occurred to me over the last few days that if I do that I'll only be perpetuating the problem here. I can't fix the economy, I can't make the city hire more police, but I can show people that I care, that I am interested in their stories. I can show them that I am human, and they are human, and we are all human together. We all have stories, in that we are all the same.
It was difficult to find a song that was appropriate for today because I wasn't sure how I was feeling about the day. I'm not a political blogger, and I'm grateful for that. I hesitate to share political views because so often they shut down opportunities for conversation, rather than opening them. I'm still an idealist. I support our troops as human beings, and because they protect the rights that I have as a citizen of the United States. I do not support the global social and political mindset in which guns and bombs are necessary to secure our beliefs. I do not support the decision to bowl through other countries on the basis that we know what is good for them, without allowing them to search for their own new way of life. I believe in human connections, regardless of how we name it in our churches and temples. I believe we should bring our troops home because if we really, truly respected them as human beings we would not ask them to die for us without first trying to resolve our problems in a human, non-violent way. We are distinct in the animal kingdom because we alone have the ability to chose how we arrive at our future. I believe we should exercise that ability and speak, in memory of all who have given their one, single, irreplaceable life.
Looking for more Music Monday? *They're usually not politically driven!*