Sunday, October 9, 2011

The mothering dance

Last night: Yom Kippur is over.  I've fed a bunch of people and they've gone home and my daughter wants to curl up on the couch with me and watch a movie.  She puts on Salt.  She's a young teenager now, so it is 'sort of' okay for us to watch something violent.  I really don't like violent movies: even the violence in Harry Potter bothers me.  Maybe it was being raised by peaceniks.  Our typical favorites are girl movies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Raising Helen, and film versions of Jane Austen books.  My daughter still loves Cheaper By the Dozen.  I can't convince her to watch my old favorite Kate Hepburn movies and other classics yet.  I keep trying!

But we're hooked on Salt.

Was Angelina/Salt on the Russian side or the American?  We had to know.

Angelina/Salt kills everyone and, like spider woman, she dances down the inner walls of the elevator shaft, bounces around and out of crashing cars, flips out of planes-- and never dies or gets seriously injured.  Salt is a computerized-cartoon gumbie in a black wig.  She's lighter than air, loaded with weapons, and bloody-faced.  She just goes on killing and killing and I feel myself getting angrier and angrier.  I tell my daughter we should turn off the movie, but we have to know. Whose side is Salt on?  Salt goes on shooting, kicking, and cutting up men and it turns out she's going to stop the big bad Russians from starting a nuclear war. At the point at which they are in the situation room with the President, and he pulls out the "black box" and proceeds as if to destroy the planet, I cannot bear it.  I cannot watch.  My fear is far beyond the film, it fills every fiber of my being.  It hurts me in a visceral way.

How many bombs do we have aimed at Russia right now?  How many are aimed at us?  Far, far, too many--thousands upon thousands. Why? The cold ward is over.  It really, really angers me that the movie industry plays up such seriousness as entertainment.  Maybe they are they playing it up on purpose in order to stir a sense of American patriotic need for yet more bombs?  Has the military contributed to the making of the film?  I know it is a ridiculous theory, but I am furious that Hollywood makes potential nuclear war look like fun.  And, as a woman, Angelina should know better.

Life is not a video game, and yet it surely feels like it at times.

We've been watching all of this for so long.

We're all hyped up and scared, and yet not scared at all--numb, in denial, unable to feel anything unmediated by media, by technology.  I think we move around in this hyper-tense hyper-real space of electrical buzzing that keeps us perpetually on edge.  We have 900 friends online. We chat on the computer. We write emails all day.  How many people do we actually speak to or make direct eye contact with?  How do we measure connection?  Are we so terrorized by a fear of death--annihilation-- that we choose denial?

Do we feel anything?

Have we forgotten how to love?

I suppose I should speak for myself.

I just wish those bombs would go away--that the atom had not been split.  I wish for the mothers and children of Japan, that they didn't have to spend their days worried about thyroid cancer and leukemia, and broken DNA.

There are so many environmental crimes worldwide--too many to list here--and their impact on people, children, the poor, the indigenous--is so heartbreaking, appalling, shocking--and if we were to face it head on?  Most people can't, won't, don't.

Is this widespread cultural denial, this shutting down of one's heart, a form of eco-trauma?  I think so.

If we are in an ever-constant state of terror and avoidance--how can we feel anything?  If we don't feel anything, how will we do anything to change what we're afraid of?  By avoiding, denying, we remain passive, nonthinking, hyper-tense consumers.  (Yippee, let's run to the mall!)

So we turn to figures like Salt--she can flip around and nothing ever happens.  Her neck never breaks.  People die, but so what.  It's all 'not real'.

Still, I wish we could decommission all those nuclear bombs and power plants.  Move entirely to solar, wind, geothermal.  Stop drilling and fracking and poisoning.  Ride bikes, get rid of cars, develop a viable mass transit system.  Live in villages.  Slow down, spend less, live simply, and take care of each other with kindness and love.

Are these futile wishes?  I have to wish for them and envision a peaceful, beautiful planet and a happy people in a vibrant, toxically uncontaminated world--- a world where breast milk and amniotic fluid are not filled with hundreds or thousands of dangerous toxins.  A world where the frogs don't change genders because of the overload of hormone disrupters in ponds and rivers. A world where we don't need geiger counters when we go grocery shopping.  A world where cancer isn't the new cold.  A world where the word environmental "sacrifice zone" is not known.

My choice: to live in terror, or to transform that fear and join a movement to build something beautiful.

I'll work to build something beautiful.

Come join me.

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