I knock on doors
I find people, seek them out in their isolated homes
The second house from the end on the left,
with the cement colored statues of geese in the front yard
And the ficus tree
I knock and then
I wait
A woman comes to the front door in a shiny looking coral colored blouse, gold shell earings and jeans. She has blondish brown feathered hair that brushes just past her sholders. She has the faint smell of perfume at the end of the day.
She has not totally changed out of her work clothes yet.
She is in the middle of dinner
She is helping her child do his homework
She is preparing for a presentation at work tomorrow
She is watching her favorite program on television
She is talking on the telephone long distance with her Aunt Diane
She is not sure whether
she wants to talk to me yet,
her eyes suspicious, tired, partially emotionally drained, partially beaten into submission about her more
youthful and dangerous thoughts of change, of something different.
I am trying to remind her
Outside of the route she drives to work, outside of her friends, her family, the grocery store on Sunday and gas prices, just
beyond the streets she is familiar with and the things she sees on the news,
In the realm where the textures, shades and qualities of our lives become abstract, fictional and/or blurry,
there are these people dying. There are these others who don’t eat.
I want her to
Wake up!
She is not as powerless
as she thinks
she is
I know that
But she has forgotten
Or let them win in her heart, and in her mind
So she may speak words but she worries that we are all powerless,
she gets mad but she doesn’t know what to do,
so she doesn’t get as mad any more,
and the drama on the Sopranos is more compelling, and finishes
In an hour
There is a justice in it that is scripted,
there is a predictability even in its less predictable moments
Not like war
War, and life for that matter,
don’t care if you’re a good person
I want to ask her to take a walk with me. Through a grenade explosion and the ripped,
mutilated bodies with all the blood coming out of the tissues, through the wreckage of thousands of homes. Can you imagine a grown man crying large pitiful sobs, clinging to the lifeless body of his twelve year old son as his friends try to pull him away and cover the stretcher in the street with a stained white sheet. As he throws his head back and opens his eyes to the sky and half falls, half rushes to throw himself on that small body he cared for so much, in disbelief that he could not protect him, that this life he had nurtured for 12 years could be just gone in a random, unthinking
moment, that the world could be so
I want her to take a walk with me through the thousands of people standing in the rain, side by side, confronting death, illness, fear, and their government, to be free. Through the people who are having tear gas bombs thrown at them, and riot police advancing towards them, who are afraid to get hit, afraid of the anger in the gait of these military men, but
who are more afraid of a long, inhuman death without dignity.
I want her have some courage and I know it is hard.
But every night I come out here sometimes in the cold, sometimes in the rain, sometimes just
seemingly alone under the stars and through the circles and cycles of the moon, every evening for months, and years
To have doors slammed in my face and to be welcomed into homes and offered food and drink.
To have people experience every emotion in your presence from anger
to happiness, depression to apathy, cynicism, fear, frustration, and worse,
In this line of work
I choose to be treated unfairly, I choose unpredictability, to be insulted and chided along side being reluctantly listened to, I choose to go through mild discomfort and the daily questioning:
Is what I am doing right? Am I making a difference?
And I choose that because I think sometimes the right thing to do is hard, is uncomfortable, does put your ego, your heart, and sometimes your life
at risk.
I do it because others don’t get to choose, because often enough people are the recipients of consequences of choices made by others.
In the U.S. we make choices every day that mean another scene like that above, a man has lost his son and could do nothing about it.
If we in the U.S. had bombs raining down, were losing our loved ones in such an unjust manner we would not have a choice but to organize and do something about it.
So we are asking you to come with us to these dark, destroyed, terrifying places, imagine that you don’t live in a comfortable society, and then do what it takes to bring as many people back with you as possible. We are
asking that you recognize the privilege of safety and the responsibility it gifts you with, and that you wield it.
Sometimes it is not an easy job; I am not a saint,
and I am not self-righteous,
I am trying,
in a comfortable society

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