“Why do you care so much what happens to some people in Yemen?” several people have asked me. “Don’t you care about Americans?!”
“All injustice is interrelated,” I’ve fumbled in reply. “The injustice Yemeni people experience is symptomatic of the same illness many Americans endure. To care about one is to care about all.”
I haven’t satisfied a single person–myself included–with this vague answer, so I’ve kept searching for a better one. As a former negotiator, I know I won’t receive any concession I can’t describe.
I sought and found a story, something that might breathe real life into the abstraction that “all injustice is interrelated.”
Imagine the earth is a single enormous iceberg, and all who live upon it are penguins. Some penguins live nearer the center, and others nearer its edges.
Penguins in the center are doing very, very well. In fact, 1% of the penguin population has managed to hoard for itself almost half of the iceberg.
When I close my eyes, I see Rara’s trembling arms as we stand and talk at her husband’s memorial.
I feel the Correctional Officer’s presence over my shoulder. The officer is quiet and soft spoken, and I thank her twice for her kindness, but I feel her eyes absorbing everything. I regret that she has to be there at all.
And I come back to Rara’s trembling arms, which reveal things that words couldn’t possibly: all the sadness, all the loss, all the anxiety at a life suddenly nothing like What Came Before.
I’ve felt ill at ease in my own life the last few months. It’s felt pretty all consuming, honestly. Read more…
I met Rara and her husband, Dave, a week before my second son was born.
Rara went to prison a couple of weeks later. Innocence doesn’t pay attorney fees.
She’s still in prison.
She was there when Dave posted that he had an infection a few weeks ago.
She was there when he died soon after.
Today, my husband, sons and I drove to Dave’s memorial.
My five-year-old, Li’l D, couldn’t understand how Rara had ended up in prison.
My husband and I answered Li’l D’s many questions until my husband finally said, “Some bad guys fight with swords. Other bad guys fight with paper. She met the kind who fights with paper.” Read more…