Sunday, January 29, 2017

Do Anything

Am I alone in feeling this turmoil?
The unease bubbles up in my stomach,  leaving me slightly nauseated as I hear the stories about the "Muslim ban" on people from specific countries.
During each class I teach, I look students in the eye who come from those countries, especially Somalia because Columbus has become a haven for Somali refugees. They are no different from my own children -- fighting with their parents, working to buy cars, waiting to write their essays until the last minute.
The new president signed an executive order yesterday that bans all refugees for 120 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely. "Additionally, it bans the citizens of seven countries—Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen—from entering the U.S. on any visa category. This appears to include those individuals who are permanent residents of the U.S. (green-card holders) who may have been traveling overseas to visit family or for work..." according to an article in the Atlantic.
How many people are in danger because they have been denied entry to a flight, after years of vetting and finally approval to move to the United States.
The irony of this order coming the day after the "life" march in Washington, D.C. We see once again that only the right kinds of life matter to some people.
The People for Bernie Sanders' photo

This urge to do something to make a difference nibbles at my consciousness.
Should I go to the airport to protest?
Should I twist my scarf into a hijab over my head in solidarity.
I understand the idea now that older women can lead the way. We have raised our children. We have kept them safe within a bubble. Maybe it is time to step out of that bubble now, to take risks.
I wonder how I can contemplate moving to France to teach English while my husband and I drink wine and break bread, while in other countries, less fortunate people, fear bullets and bombs. They shrink from a sound at their door that might mean Boku Haram is coming to steal their daughters.
How can we sit by?
But what can we do?
I contemplate going to Mass this morning, wondering if the priests will address this new un-Christian move by our president, being comforted at the proximity of people who mourn the direction our country is going. I picture throwing myself into prayer, but the relief would only be for me, not for the people left behind.
Another part of me wants to gather my computer and tromp to the nearest coffee shop where I can pour my overwrought emotions into the characters in my novel. Maybe they can make a difference that I cannot.
I walked this morning, which makes it harder to outrun my thoughts. But when I woke up today, a blood vessel had burst in my eye. I chose not to go for a run worried that excessive exercise might exacerbate the redness streaking through the whites of my eyeball.
And the stories from NPR pouring into my ear only urged me to take some action.
It's a helpless feeling.
This song from the Women's March, #icantkeepquiet helps remind me that I'm not alone though.


Sim Carter said...

Great post, Paulita. I have been waking up every day, terrified and appalled at what's happening. I'm trying to work on a novel but can't concentrate, I'm glued to the news, especially twitter, each new tweet enlarging my understanding and my outrage. Yesterday, with the Muslim ban (let's be honest, thats what it is), I worried like you about what to do.

Should I go stand on the corner of Third and Fairfax with a protest sign, should I go to the airport and join in?
Watching Reince Preibus on Meet the Press, squirming, denying that green card holders will be impacted, I fear the worst is coming. You thought of your students, I thought of my son's friend, Amir. Amir was born in America but his mother came from Iran with her family, like many Iranians did when the Shah fell and the Ayotollah took over.

I thought of how hard she worked to make sure Amir was a good kid, that he stayed focused in high school so he would get into a decent college and have the kind of life she dreamed of when she came to America with her parents. The kind of American life we enjoy and the freedoms we enjoy. I've lost touch but I can imagine her pretty face screwed up with worry now. A very different kind of worry than the worry you and I face. No one is coming to check our papers.

And like Amir's mom, I happen to be a green card carrying permanent resident too. I'm lucky because I'm from England. Although if May and Trump have a falling out, who know's? He's a loose cannon and nothing would surprise me. My husband and I have been saving for that long dreamed about trip to England and France, he doesn't want to do anything until all these questions are settled.

I don't know what to do to help longterm. In the end I called Washington and left a message for my Senator, Kamala Harris, told her I had great hopes for her and that the democrats need to do more than share tweets about the Statue of Liberty crying. They need to stand up to Trump for his UnAmerican behavior, to stand up for what's right.
And shared the number on twitter.
Here it is (202) 224-3121

Paulita said...

Sim, Thanks. It does help to know that I'm not the only one feeling this way. I've tweeted at my republican Senator, but I haven't applauded my democratic senator who stood up to the Muslim ban.
I have to admit, I did wonder whether my husband and I will be allowed back in the United States after we move to France. Maybe there will be a litmus test that we won't pass.

Anonymous said...

I applaud this post. That poster captures the hypocrisy perfectly.
Sadly, France seems to be shifting to the right, although during the debate between Fillon and Giscard d'Estaing fell all over each other to show who would best protect the right to abortion. Of course, abortions here are rare because birth control is easy to get.
I am going to apply for French citizenship nonetheless, for just the reason you say--litmus tests.

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