Friday, March 23, 2012

You Should Be Equally Disturbed

Corpses scattered, man holds boy murdered in Rwandan Genocide

Bloodied bodies on Rwandan streets, 1994. A century of bitterness and oppression broke loose, as the Hutus mowed down the once superior Tutsis. The Tutsis were lighter skinned Africans with sharper features who in the 19th century, during Belgium's occupation of Rwanda, had been declared by the Belgic as the superior race. The Tutsis were the minority of Rwandans who were put into power in the Beligic colonies. The rest of the population, the darker skinned and less wealthy were called the Hutus. They were given identification cards and declared either superior or lesser. The 100 days of genocide in 1994 between the Hutus and the Tutsis was a result of this racial tension that had been created in the 19th century. This creation of race was a result of social darwinistic ideas imposed upon the Rwandan colony at the end of the 19th century. In 100 days, an estimated 800,000 people were murdered.

Today in Dr. Mac's Western Civ. class we learned about this, and watched portions from the movie Hotel Rwanda. Before class I had just been at Planned Parenthood doing sidewalk counseling, or trying to convince women not to get abortions and not to support Planned Parenthood. My mind was on the genocide of unborn babies when I came to class and learned about the Rwandan genocide. I was deeply disturbed by the images of all the dead people in the movie, but then I thought about how other people, whether Christian or not, would probably be equally disturbed. I would say that something is seriously wrong with a person if they are not at least somewhat disgusted by the Rwandan genocide. 

Yet an hour earlier I had conversed with a girl, 17 years old, who was at Planned Parenthood to get her second abortion this year. She already had a toddler, which her mom was currently caring for, and she had killed her second child in January. She told me that adoption wasn't an option for her because she couldn't live her life worrying about what kind of family her child was raised in. She couldn't do an open adoption because then she would have to worry about her kid. If she had the baby, she would keep it, but she doesn't have enough money. In her mind, she was doing what was best for herself and her daughter by letting this child go. 

I asked her why it was okay to kill a child because it's in her uterus but it's wrong to kill a little kid. She just answered that abortion isn't a good thing, but it was her best option. She said that it is nice to be able to get an abortion in her situation. She refused any alternatives like adoption, or charities to help with costs. When I realized I could do nothing to stop her, because my words had been spent, I told her about past-abortion counseling. But she informed me that she wasn't really affected by her last abortion, so she doesn't think she'll be needing counseling. 

She was cold, set in stone. I realize this could have been a front that she was putting on for me, but her arguments were all so self centered. They were all arguments I've heard before, the same dehumanizing selfish arguments. How can we rationalize murder? How did murder become an option because of convenience? 
Foot of an aborted baby found in a dumpster outside a Planned Parenthood

I see connections between the Rwandan genocide and the current worldwide abortion genocide. In America (mind you, this is ONLY the numbers from America, not counting everywhere else in the world), approximately 3,315 children are killed with their mother's consent everyday. In 100 days, that's 331,500. But now imagine that this is something that has been legal in America since 1973. This isn't 100 days we're talking about, but 39 years! And abortion is not just in America; it is all over the world. How can the world be horrified by 100 days of genocide in Rwanda killing 800,000 people, but so many people are indifferent, or stone cold careless, or radically in support of abortion, 39 years of unborn child genocide? 

Both the conflict between the Hutus and the Tustis were a result of social darwinistic theory, that some races and peoples are genetically superior to others. That those who are superior deserve power and better lives. Planned Parenthood was also started by Margaret Sanger, a huge social darwinist who wanted to stop minority groups (blacks, mexicans, etc), poor people, sick people, retarded people, etc from having children. She was a proponent for eugenics, sterilizing these groups, but she also found another way to make these unwanted human beings stop procreating. She set up Planned Parenthood centers in minority and low income areas that gave out birth control and performed abortions. Just because that was about 100 years ago does not mean that Planned Parenthood's reason for existence has really changed (other than the fact that they get a lot of money from abortions). They still dehumanize, and target these supposedly less valuable mothers, killing their unwanted children.  

There are social darwinistic similarities between the Rwandan genocide and the current abortion genocide, yet 100 days of murdered Africans disturbs most people significantly more than 39 years of unborn children murdered in clean medical offices that claim to be bettering society. Let's be honest about this. Stop looking the other way and rationalizing murder. Convenience is no excuse for killing. If killing innocent Rwandan people by the 1000s is wrong, then be consistent. Be equally as disturbed when you think about all the unborn children that are slaughtered every day by a doctors hands and a mother's consent. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Poetry: Reduction

I want to be a poet. But what is a poet?

This reminds me of JD Salinger. The greatest compliment Salingers characters from the Glass family can give anyone is to call him or her a poet. There are many quotes in Salinger's writings about what it means to be a poet.

Anyway here is one example passage from Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters. The majority of this novella takes place in a taxi cab where five people are crammed in the back seat on a hot day in New York City. They are on their way to the wedding reception of Buddy's brother, Seymour, who, incidentally, did not show up to his own ceremony. They get stuck in traffic on the way and decide to leave the cab. The "tiny old man" is a deaf mute, the great uncle of the bride, who has been sitting indifferently during the entire car ride while everyone else was up in arms about the wedding, the heat, the tightness of the cab. Buddy is the narrator.

Somewhat over legibly, I wrote on a sheet of paper, "We're held up indefinitely by the parade. We're going to find a phone and have some cold drinks somewhere. Will you join us?" I folded the paper once then handed it to the matron of honor, who read it, then passed it on the the tiny old man. He read it, grinning, then looked at me and wagged his head up and down several times vehemently. I thought for an instant that this was a full and perfectly eloquent extent of his reply, but he suddenly motioned to me with his hand, and I gathered that he wanted me to pass my pad and pencil. I did so, without looking over at the matron of honor from whom great waves of impatience were rising. The old man adjusted the pad and pencil on his lap with greatest care, then sat for a moment, pencil poised, in obvious concentration, his grin diminished only a very trifle. Then the pencil began very unsteadily to move. An "i" was dotted. And then both pad an pencil were returned personally to me, with a marvelously cordial extra added wag of the head. He had written in letter not quite jelled yet, the single word, "Delighted." The matron of honor, who was reading over my shoulder, gave a sound faintly like a snort, but I quickly looked over at the great writer and tried to show by my expression that all of us in the car knew a great poem when we saw one and we were grateful.

Isn't this marvelous? Karolina and I talked about modern art yesterday and how it is a symbol of something deeply profound or philosophical. It is visual art reduced to one idea with no distractions. Her art piece, a black canvas charcoaled is called, "Nothingness." But you can only see it in the light, and in seeing the painting you see traces of the process of making the art. Nothingness is impossible. The black canvas portrays one idea, reduced, simplified.

As another example, there is a poem written on a Buddhist temple that is described in Memoirs of a Geisha. The poem is just the word "Loss." There are no words for loss.

Poetry is similar to modern visual art. It's amazing how such simple symbols, these little words, can mean so much. The more simple it seems the more profound something can be. I want to work on writing shorter things. I want to write profound and simple. Something reduced to its core. Almost reduced to nothing. This is a very JD Salinger, very Zen Buddhist idea. Very modern artsy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I Like to Talk About Me

A few weekends ago I was in Mexico with a group of students from school. We went to an orphanage called Casa Hugar in Baja California. Over lunch on Sunday afternoon one table, the table I was sitting at, sat quietly over-looking the mountains in the distance, while the people at the other table talked loudly.

Then Justin Bleeker at my table said, "Have you ever thought about how often people say 'I' in a conversation?" 

We contemplated. Yeah, people say 'I' and other first person pronouns very often. People are obsessed with talking about themselves. Justin proposed that it is our individualistic society that encourages us to talk about ourselves so much. We want to make sure that we are known but we don't care very much about knowing other people. 

Let me talk about my self a minute :P When I was in high school I confided in my mom about my lack of conversational skills. Her response was, "Just ask people questions. People love talking about themselves. Ask questions and make the other person do all the talking, and they will like you because not many people take the time to ask questions." So as a cure to my lack of social abilities, I learned to ask people questions. 

See, some people like to talk about themselves and they don't care much to know about other people. Others, like me, would rather not talk and they also don't care very much about knowing other people. (Don't worry, this isn't an either or fallacy; I am not making a claim about all people, but I am speaking particularly to the people who fall into these categories, and I am challenging people to question if they are in these categories.)

I have tried to change my mindset. As an aspiring journalist, I want to ask people questions to sort of research them. As a historian, I want to find out where they came from, why they do what they do, think what they think. As a writer, I want to know their story and their character. 

I have tried to change my motives from curing my conversational inabilities into an actual desire to know and learn about people. This change requires a realization that people are actually fascinating; every person is. And, it still remains true that people, generally speaking, love to talk about themselves. A while ago I wrote a blog about the two sided nature of communication called "Communication is Human" and it is times like this where we can learn to love listening. 

People are unique and worth learning about so look outside yourself a minute and learn about someone today.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Freeway Ran Through Her Heart

The freeway ran through her heart.*

    A greasy mane clinging to her shoulders while
    pumping petroleum into her $500 Toyota Tercel.
    The car and the girl coughing smoke.

Yesterday is tomorrow's today. 

    100 mph accelerated high.
    City scapes floating above,
    stale Burger King french fries,
    and Marlboro cigarette boxes,
    littering the break pedal.

Her black eyes glaring into the hallow highway.

    Mercedes Benz and men in dark suits 
    with their hair slicked back, sucking stout cigars,
    pass by the greasy girl in her gas guzzling Tercel.

She's a one-day clearance sale scam.

*This poem was written as an assignment for my creative writing class where we had to pick the first line from a poem we liked and write a poem based on the first line. I picked the first line from "Concrete and Flesh (an unrated hollywood story)" by Mel Donalson

Seven Attributes of Your Face

Your skin was stolen from a silk worm.

Your pink peach cheeks were imported from Japan.

Your lips sweet figs coloured with apple blossoms in the spring.

Those crooked little teeth are miniature San Francisco peeks.

Those eyes, are mountain crevasses, the world falls into.

Every strand of your hair was picked from a wispy cloud.

Then God found you a Macadamia nut for a nose.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mercy, Hold Me

Oh mercy. Oh mercy please come new in the morn.
I am naked, only clothed by darkness.

Oh mercy. Oh come to me in the morn.
That old cracked smile he wears,
And kisses on the cheek when we greet
Is an abomination. His hands are full of blood.
The little boys and the little girls who trusted him,
He damaged.

Oh mercy, abide with me in the morn.
I cannot bear my eyes uncovered
In the light of morning, I blush
To remember the places I visited.
Light accuses me
Reveals me as enemy.

Oh mercy. I faint knowing who I am.
Oh mercy, bear me when I cannot bear myself.
Oh mercy. mercy...hold me.