It's Time to Get Involved January 25, 2007
It's hard to listen to the news these days. Not that it was ever easy. But now, with crises abounding here, there and everywhere, coupled with impending crises that haven't yet happened but could or might, or will depending on your mood or point of view, I am feeling a sense of percolating frustration that just won't go away. At times, the frustration gives way to anger and downright rage that surprises even me. I have always been a quiet champion for causes, for peace not war, for doing the right thing and being consistent about it, politically, domestically, personally. It doesn't help that I was a history and political science major in school, or that I was in college during the Viet Nam war and was an honorary member of the VVAW (Viet Nam Veterans Against the War), and was an active protester during those years. But that perspective was also informed at the time by my half time job working for a professor, Dr. Wesley Fishel, who had been the head US advisor to Ngo Dinh Diem, then the President of South Viet Nam. Actually, I helped him edit his books on Viet Nam, and spent many hours talking to him about his experiences there early on. He was a very controversial professor. Unbeknownst to me when I enrolled in his class, he was on the cover that month of Rampart magazine in a highly negative article, presented as a major hawk of the war. When I showed up for the first class, there were hundreds of Viet Nam war veterans picketing his class. Wesley, in his first of many surprising moves, invited them all in to his class. Then began one of the most interesting learning experiences I had. Learning about the history and political environment of a small, remarkably complex country refracted against the life and near death experiences of students and professor alike. So why do I bring this up? What makes that experience relevant to now? Simply this. Knowledge really is power. Societies are complex, history is important. By the end of the class, most, if not all of the Vets, understood the mistakes of Viet Nam. They also understood that Wesley Fishel believed that if you start a war, you better know how to win it. It was clear to him then that the US did not have a clue how to win the war in Viet Nam. Our elected officials did not remotely understand what they were getting into. We, as Americans, suffered greatly for their folly, ignorance and arrogance. Allowing yourself the openness to consider learning by hearing more than one point of view is not in vogue right now. Many people have hardened opinions based on little actual knowledge but voice them anyway and loudly. It's not easy to define issues for yourself especially when we have leaders trying to shape our thinking by framing the discussion in a way to play into their selected strategy. Of course, that's fine, when the strategy works..... Now we have many issues on the table to consider. What are we willing to suffer greatly now and in the near term future? Again, we have leaders that have led us into a dark corner, not just with the Iraq war, but with failed leadership on many fronts - energy, health care, climate, worldwide terrorism, to just hit on some key areas that need immediate attention and action. We have much at stake and many reasons to consider stepping outside of our protected remote-controlled cocoons to see where our contribution might make a difference. Which is why I will using my just-born and launched jewelry webstore as a platform to provide assistance, monetary and otherwise to issues and organizations that I support as a woman, and others that I support as a citizen of our great country. (Though many of us haven't been feeling too great about it lately) I am currently working on several projects, some longer term, some imminent, that will shine a light, raise awareness or simply provide enthusiastic support. Individual effort can be substantial and can and does make a difference. Particularly when it coagulates with other individual efforts. But it takes doing it. The first step is the most difficult. I'm taking it. Stay tuned.