Wednesday, December 28, 2005

In My Country

I saw a great movie this weekend called, "In My Country." Let's just say that we are lucky to live where we do. And let us just further say that being white is a privelege that can't be taken away, and can't be given back. Go ahead and whine. Self denigration, loud protestation and empathy don't change a thing.

I'll say the word, but resist your inner file manager, the one that says, "Ah, this goes right here" in the Shit That Doesn't Affect Me folder. Already your eyes are glazing over, because the phase triggered an unconscious brain mine, your heart rate accelerated and your hand is absently twitching the mouse towards the Next Blog button. It's a choice really, how we live our lives. We all know that bad stuff happens, and some of us are really put out by it. Hell, we might even get indignant and pretend to really care, especially when rightly accused of apathy. But next week I'll have totally forgotten about it, swimming in the Soma of my own petty problems, and my life will continue unabated on it's present course.

What's the word?

Later. I have more to say.

I admire the kind of person who gets up one day, tired of all the bullshit, tired of hearing people complain about the state of the world, tired of talking about the injustice of it all, and takes action.

Do you ever wonder what it must be like to be a field reporter? Someone who doesn't hear it first on the news; rather someone who gets a call at three in the morning. Get your ass to Oklahoma City. Someone who walks through the rubble of an explosion and finds a shoe that fits in his white-knuckled fist with a tiny, gushing foot still in it? Someone who witnesses an execution with the family of the condemned man's victim and his sobbing mother, tendrils of smoke snaking from underneath a metal kippah, the smell of burnt meat wafting and pervasive, like a roasted pig in a pit. Someone who walks through a refugee camp after eating a hot breakfast, and sees the body of an emaciated child, skin pulled impossibly taut over a rib cage like a vacuum sealed freezer bag, with a fly casually cleaning its wings atop a sightless open eyeball. Someone who has consoled and transcribed the events of countless victims and survivors of violent crimes.

I do. But I live right here, in my little office that overlooks my slice of the Shire while the world turns on its hostile axis. I wish sometimes that I would have joined the service, or traveled abroad. I feel fortunate to have shoveled shit, to have worked in the freezing cold, to have rubbed two pennies together and wished them into silver dollars, to have loved and lost, to have tried so many times, to have been told I couldn't do it, to have risen above the caste I was born to.

Maybe if we all had to see the dark side of life, to squirm from its oppressive grip, we would have some respect, for each other and for the lives of people who never even had a ticket in the geographic lottery. Maybe we would have more of a stake in the future.

If I could do it all over, I would live a different life. I'm happy, but feeling a little guilty, like I'm living on the backs of slaves. I'm not rich by my country's standards, but on a world scale I'm living in Graceland. Make that Disneyland.

But like I said, I'll get over it. A movie like In My Country is like a cup of Peets: jolting, but the buzz eventually wears off.

The word? Oh yeah.

Apartheid.

10 comments:

Jada's Gigi said...

I often thank the Lord that I was born in this country, in this time and in this skin.

Joely Sue Burkhart said...

Wonderful post, Scott. I'll have to track this movie down.

Tee said...

Wow, Scott.

This sounds like a film I'd want to see. I'm so highly sensitive though, these types of things can depress me and cause my mind's wheels to turn at all hours of the night... Maybe that's the sign of being a decent human though.

I wish I could discuss this more but my brain is already overloaded from your graphic descriptions. Superb writing but a sad (understatement) subject.

Scott said...

Gigi - Good for you, and me too.

Joely - Yeah, it was one of those "pure" experiences for me. I really got something from it, and as a writer it is interesting to see the inside of the minds of a group of people that decided it was ok to do what they were doing because they were ordered. The bright and dark side of humanity is shown.

Tee - It can be depressing, but uplifting in a small way too.

mr. schprock said...

Well, you got me interested in this movie all right. I've always thought that, if given a choice, most people would pick to be born white, male and American — in other words, just like me. Of course, it's not in the least way fair that being white, male and American should be so economically and socially advantageous; and, mindful of the unfairness, I should do my part to correct the injustice of racism and sexism — but what a comfortable position I'm in to fight the good fight should I choose to, right? I tell my kids that if I were born black but retained the same level ambition and God-given talents I do now (all of which are modest), I wouldn't fare nearly so well as I have. I'd have to work twice as hard.

The Zombieslayer said...

Me too.

Never seen In My Country though. I'll have to see that one.


I admire the kind of person who gets up one day, tired of all the bullshit, tired of hearing people complain about the state of the world, tired of talking about the injustice of it all, and takes action.

Sadie Lou said...

Scott--
did you see Hotel Rowanda by any chance?

Also,
I finished watching The Office: Christmas Special. Where are you at in the series?

Scott said...

Mr. Schprock - It's human nuture to be egocentric, we live so far away from such open hostility. In the midst of racial crime, it's more the egocentrism to not raise your voice in protest. I lived with racism going outward from my family, although it wasn't violent and mostly it seemed, not meant. Human nature needs to be worked on and molded, and that can only be done by recognizing and facing up to the hard truths out there.

Zombie - Check it out and tell me what you think.

Sadie - I didn't see Hotel Rwanda yet, but I plan to. As for the Office, we're waiting for season two yet. You will be the first to hear what I think about it!

Kathleen said...

Thanks for the movie recommendation. Any movie with Samuel L. Jackson and Juliette Binoche has to be seen...at least by me! ADORE Samuel, I do!

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