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The could-have-been soul-kin of Anne Frank

I thought of Anne Frank while walking in the rain this morning.

I thought of how she might have lived, had the U.S. approved her entry into the country.

I thought of the final marches made by countless peoples Nazis deemed subhuman. Did each of those marchers know how few steps they had to walk in their lives? Or did they hold out some frail hope as they marched toward gas chambers that the worst was behind them?

I ached, but something in my heart told me I wasn’t only aching because of the past.

I turned toward the present, and my blood ran cold.

Over the weekend, I read further in Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine.

I learned that the image of Iraq I’d had painted for me by U.S. media when the U.S. invaded Iraq  was wrong. Far from being a backward country in need of re-creation, it had a rich cultural, artistic, and intellectual history. Its literacy rate exceeded that of many U.S. states.

Then the U.S. invaded and destroyed Iraq, obliterating its universities, museums, and faith centers in addition to ending–through torture and killing–countless lives.

I’d had no idea what–or whom–my country destroyed, nor how completely it did so to open new markets.

After World War II, many ordinary Germans claimed they had no idea what was happening to the people forcibly removed from their communities. Even those with concentration camps in their backyards professed shock upon discovering the atrocities perpetrated–and suffered–by people who’d once walked among them.

To focus very narrowly upon a single city or community might make disappearances merely curious.

Pulling back and taking a wider view, we can see from temporal and physical distance that people disappeared from many communities.

Focusing on any one, it is easy to say it’s not such a big deal some people disappeared.

It would, of course, be wrong, for what happened in any individual community didn’t spring from such community. What happened in each was symptomatic of a much greater ill, which can only be seen from further back.

(The earth seems flat while standing upon it. You must view it from space to see that it is curved.)

I wrote recently about the U.S.’s indispensible role destroying Yemeni lives by bombing Yemen and by cutting it off from desperately needed humanitarian supplies.

Those not killed by bombs are killed by slow starvation.

When I wrote, I was troubled and perplexed by my country’s brutal acts, as well as by my fellow Americans’ apparent lack of concern with the same.

U.S. attacks on Yemen and, once again, Iraq might not seem that disturbing taken as two completely separate sets of actions.

Viewing it that way is viewing it too narrowly, for the U.S. has recently bombed and otherwise attacked three other predominantly Muslim Middle Eastern countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Syria. (In the latter case, U.S. leaders roar for a no-fly zone they quietly acknowledge will kill countless civilians.)

Taking a slighty wider view, the pattern becomes even more sinister: The U.S. is also bombing two Muslim countries in northern Africa. Somalia is under U.S. attack, as is Libya, which was a true democracy until the U.S.’s Clinton-led  intervention a few years ago.

Having destabilized not only Iraq but many of its Muslim neighbors, my country destroys their paths to food, exit, and safety. It totals homes and livelihoods and then dooms entire regions by denying their people safe harbor here.

By Oxford’s definition of genocide, “the deliberate killing of large groups of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation (synonyms: mass murder),” U.S. actions have a name.

Ask some members of certain American contingencies and they’ll tell you we’re bombing Muslim countries because violent Muslims have provoked us to it.

In addition to being a horrifyingly broad overgeneralization, this acontextual view ignores how U.S. attacks have fanned the flames of extremism. In one recent Robert Kennedy piece, he explains how  U.S. Department of Defense “data show a strong correlation between U.S. involvement abroad and terrorist attacks against the U.S.”

Indeed, Pulse Nightclub shooter Omar Mateen told a police negotiator, “You have to tell the U.S. government to stop bombing. They are killing too many children. They are killing too many women, okay.”

In a broadly bipartisan affair, my country has killed and continues to kill hundreds of thousands of Muslim families. To my heart, there is no difference between these families, Sikh families, Christian families, Jewish families, atheist families, or any other loving family.

I cannot stop my government from killing, but I can speak up that none around me may ever truthfully say, “I had no idea that was happening!”

To not know is one thing; to willfully not know, quite another.

As we go about our merry not-knowing, there is no telling how many soul-kin of Anne Frank we are destroying each and every day.

This 10/24/16 post transferred from L2SP 5/16/17

 

FTIAT: The Power of Words to Reconnect A Life

Penny (Life Reconnected) began her blog to help cope with a convergence of losses, but it’s grown into something much greater. In addition to  documenting her many–and I do mean many!–external adventures, she’s enchantingly forthright about her internal adventures piecing together “a sense of place, purpose, balance and love in this world.” Her blog enhances my own sense of connectedness to this world.

Recommended post: A Month in the Country of Blogging Land

The Power Of Words To Reconnect A Life

‘I’ve Been Blogging Since You Left Me’ was one of the original title possibilities for my blog. Along with ‘Dumped at Fifty‘, ‘On The Scrapheap’ and ‘Better Out Than In’. As I moved through trying to amuse myself to getting to the essence of what I needed to express ‘A Design For Life’ and ‘House, Job, Life’ finally became Life Reconnected. That was one year ago.

Then, I was sitting in a house that I hated. Strong words but it felt like I had a life that I hated then too, one that I couldn’t control, recognize or find any purpose to. I was disconnected. So I began my blog.

It became my lifeline, literally a line to connect my life to something, anything, that felt meaningful. It has all been said before about how writing is cathartic, a way to find meaning and how blogging is the modern way to put that writing out there but like most things until you actually do it you don’t feel all of the power. I had been diary writing for years in that cathartic way but the power of blogging has come to me in ways different to what I imagined.

In her book A Brief History of Diaries, Alexandra Johnson traces the history of writing for and about one’s self through centuries of writing and she notes that some of the most widely read diaries, many still bestsellers, are written by women. Centuries of literary prohibition and inhibition she says, had driven women to diary keeping:

“Safe yet secret. The finest diaries expose the raw nerve of creative ambition. For writers like Mansfield and Woolf, by being able to practise craft, a diary became a first draft of confidence……..At their core, Burney’s (Fanny) diaries involve the deep permission to begin and sustain creative work

I am just recently back from Amsterdam and I visited the home where Anne Frank wrote what was to become the most widely read diary in history. I had my moments there. That time when the feelings and emotion well up and you embody the connection. Just the day before a friend had told me the most moving part of her visit to the house was hearing Otto Frank, Anne’s father, saying how he had realized on reading her diary that as a parent we never really know our children. So true and my response had been, well, do we ever really know anyone?

I came away from the house with a poster of the chestnut tree that Anne had been able to see out of a window. The attic space had been the most significant part of the building for me; I could just imagine how being able to see the sky and have some connection with the bigger world was so important for her. To be able to see through a gap of any sort sustains hope.

Traveling back from Amsterdam I was sitting in Schipol airport lounge with a friend and I was commenting on the fact that my blog had had two views that day! We were having a conversation around me starting my business and how I had felt such a disconnect with where I lived and how I hadn’t really told anyone I knew about me blogging and having no ‘local’ readers. “But how would you know?” she asked. How indeed.

Sometimes we don’t appreciate how powerful our words can be and how far out the ripples can radiate. In her second day’s entry Anne wrote ‘Writing in a diary is really a strange experience for someone like me. Not only because I’ve never written anything before, but also because it seems to me that later on neither I nor anyone else will be interested in the musings of a thirteen-year-old school girl.’

As I sit today in the front room of that same house I hated a year ago, I look out at the gorgeous view of two magnificent Birch trees framing a small slice of a longer view to the mountains surrounding Belfast. The newly sprung leaves are dancing magically in the wind. Looking more closely in my frame of view I embrace the newly painted walls, the bobbing blackbird reflected in the shiny mirror, my rapture at the patterns my magnificent light shade make on the ceiling above. I appreciate it all. My lovely house swept white, clean and modern. My life swept white, begun again, healed.

I have effectively swept clean my life. A new and lighter life with small details that bring appreciation, grace, shape and form to enjoy. Each day to admire, to take pleasure from as I begin to use my art, my journey and my expression of it here in my blog to form both a business and a basis for my new life.

I could just as easily called my blog ‘The Power Of Words to Reconnect A Life’. It has given me a deep permission to begin and sustain creative work. This little house, this little blog. This little life. Reconnected.

I give thanks to all who share and express some of what and who we are.

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