Monday, November 20, 2006

Esperanza

There are times when I'm embarassed about my idealism. My socialist politics, for example, never went over well with Sandy and Florina. They come from countries crushed by communism - they have every right to be jaded. And maybe my ideals are just silly untested things. I'm in such an ivory tower that I can afford to be concerned about whether the phrase "that sucks" is derogatory to women and queer men.

But I'd rather struggle to live small ideals than live none at all. Idealism is useless when it's not lived. When people go to protests but then go home and pay their taxes and drink their can of Coke and don't write their Congresspeople, they're doing nothing but feeling self-righteous. In middle school my closest friends put their hearts and souls into Star Wars and the cause of an imaginary rebellion against an evil Empire. We made up innumerable scenarios in which we, freedom fighters, died for our ideals. Where did that go? In a world where our tax dollars aid the massacre of real people, why aren't they willing to risk their lives for the lives of innocents here and now?

This weekend I met people who've had their idealism tested. I was at the School of the Americas vigil at Fort Benning, Georgia. The US military runs a training camp there for Latin American soldiers, a camp that's trained many of the worst human rights abusers in the area. I heard torture victims speak. I heard a man talking about having a machine gun put to his back for illegally filming government atrocities in Mexico. Last year a man who spoke at the vigil was killed upon returning to his home country.

But people still come, and they still speak out. People who have witnessed the worst side of humanity come every year to talk about peace and progress. Yesterday they led 20,000 people in singing "Hay esperanza!", and I believed it when they sang it. There is hope, and that hope is worth dedicating our lives to.

1 comment:

roomie said...

roomie,
you are one of the few people on this campus that really do try to live according to their principles and their ideals. many people here are fond of spewing forth self-righteous bullshit and not actually doing anything to better this terrible world. i shall always admire you for staying true to your beliefs not only at haffner over brunch but in the choices you make each day. yes, it is true i shall always revolt against socialism and florina even more so. however, that doesn't change my opinion of you as one of the few truly good people i know.

have a lovely holiday and i'll call you next week. we still have a date with edward fairfax rochester.
much love, S.