January 20, 2004

Post the First

Reading Dear Raed again today ... Raed himself posts there now, he's a little scattered, but brilliant....my favorite bit was when he compared the U.N. to a rodeo clown, and he's right in so many ways...hop over the fence when the cowboy gets thrown and distract the bull, and as soon as you have his attention, run, run, run away....the world's most thankless job, all the danger, none of the glory, and never really vanquishing your foe.

But what really grabbed my attention was this post:

"But unexpectedly, the thing that made most of the hair on my head stand .. like some one being shocked by the so-called electricity, was when I heard the news about France and Belgium taking these ultra-stupid-shallow-decisions of veil / hijab !!! what the hell!!

"I mean .. I find myself forced to criticize my secular tribe!! What the hell are you doing there??? This is not supposed to be OUR part of the game
I lived in Saudi Arabia for four years, in a small city in the south called Abha. And there .. the medieval-stupid-shallow-corrupted-government used to send religious men called “mtawwe” to insure all women will cover their bodies and look like black tents, I remember my mother – the sophisticated feminist engineer – putting that black thing on her, covering her head and face, to the point that no one can tell in which direction was she standing, these are the people whom WE (me and my secular cousins) must teach how to live and understand life...."

This is the thing that occupies so much of my mental real estate lately: What do the words My People mean? Can they ever not mean?

This is the thesis of globalization, the idea those who are awed by it think it proves, that the world gets smaller and your reach gets longer, so long that you are, in the end, untethered to all that used to shape, and sometimes crush, a person's dreams --- the circumstances of family, class, place, sex. Now, it seems, all that matters is what you like, for that proves what you are like. You can live your whole life in some Thornton Wilderville outside Omaha, and spend your leisure cybering a fellow transexual Buffy fan from Nairobi.

And yet. And yet there is still something to those words, my people. Something that makes a kid like Raed, who snarls with contempt at the memory of his Mom in a chadoor, to boil up at the idea of the French and the Belgians banning the hijab. And it's in those words, in their meaning, in what we mean when we say them.

I'm American, and I care more when Americans die. People I don't know, will never know. I care more when annoymous Americans die far away from being blown up than when the same number and kind of people die in a house fire five miles from me. Maybe this is mere self-preservation; perhpas I am merely, really, concerned with how such things affect my chance of being blown up, should I choose to go far away. Perhaps. But I don't think so; I think it's more than that. My people.

My people. It means what I am; the qualities I share and that shape me, and that I cannot disavow. The parts of my identity I can't lose. Not even if I hang out in chat rooms at midnight, pretending to be somebody else.

This is what I want to go to Ireland for, to test the limits of that phrase, my people, to find out what it really means....

But I really need to quit talking about myself, even though that's aginst the blog rules.

P.S. I'm not really a Buffy fan, by the way. Nor a transexual. Sheer hyperbole. Hi Mom!

Posted by Diablevert at January 20, 2004 07:47 PM

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