Saturday, September 20, 2014

Borders & Ordinary People: Can Democracy Survive?

(M.A. Reilly)

"Almost all borders have been imposed and maintained by violence, and are quite arbitrary," writes Noam Chomsky in the article, Who Owns the Earth?
(M.A. Reilly, 2014)

It's hard not to think about borders these days as we wind our way to the end of summer 2014--a summer that is steeped in blood, difference, and distance.  I spent the summer making collages (here and here) each day based on the reported news, most often as found in the New York Times. 

I can barely bring myself to read that paper these days. Most days now, I do not.

Tonight I'm thinking about the women of Gaza and Israel and wondering whether love can ever be strong enough to heal such pain, such wrongness.  The mother of one of the Israeli teens who was killed last June, Rachel Fraenkel, spoke out  against some of the violence that has been committed in the name of vengeance for her son:
Even in the abyss of mourning for Gil-Ad, Eyal and Naftali, it is difficult for me to describe how distressed we are by the outrage committed in Jerusalem – the shedding of innocent blood in defiance of all morality, of the Torah, of the foundation of the lives of our boys and of all of us in this country. 
Only the murderers of our sons, along with those who sent them and those who helped them and incited them to murder – and not innocent people – will be brought to justice: by the army, the police, and the judiciary; not by vigilantes. 
No mother or father should ever have to go through what we are going through, and we share the pain of Mohammed’s parents. The legacy of Naftali, Gil-Ad and Eyal is one of love, of humanity, of national unity, and of integrity. (From here)
I wonder what she thinks now, months later given the death toll in Gaza and the arrest of the six boys from the racist soccer team, La Familia, who are suspects in the 'revenge' murder of 16-year-old Muhammed Abu Khudair, a Palestinian child who was beaten and set on fire by the Israeli youths.  

These are borders we make that break us.


(M.A. Reilly, 2014)
Tonight I am thinking about US women and the social and personal borders the Supreme Court has erected in their ongoing decisions to limit women's rights as well as a story that ran in the Times at mid-summer about the hundred of thousands of rape kits that are collected and left unprocessed--stored in warehouses unbeknown to the victims as their rapists go free to commit more and more rapes. More crimes against women. What borders are being erected between women and the police and prosecutors who are protecting rapists by not processing rape kits? What borders are made between women and their independence by the Supreme Court's latest decisions? The costs associated with processing rape kits apparently is too great.

What price is this border crossing and can you afford not to pay it?  

From Ladue, MO to Freguson, MO. 12.8 miles.

(M.A. Reilly, 2014)
Tonight, I'm remembering Ferguson, MO where people are still protesting, still being arrested as I write this. Ferguson is a little less than 13 miles from Ladue, MO--but the true distance between is best not represented as miles. The residents of Ladue enjoy one of the highest median incomes for any city in the United States.  They are #32.

The good people of Ferguson do not enjoy such riches.

(M.A. Reilly, 2014)
I think of this as I recall reading in a local newspaper this week that here in NJ, the percentage of people living in poverty rose again (figures for 2012).  Nearly one-third of NJ residents live in poverty. 

That's 2.7 million people. 

(M.A. Reilly, 2014)
Imagine those 2.7 million reside not too far from the land of hedge-funders and 1 percenters who live in Saddle River, Milburn, Alpine, Rumson, Harding Township, Essex Fells, Bernardsville and so on.  These people live with comforts beyond our very ordinary dreams.

These are the borders that our politicians protect in ways they fail to protect us.

(M.A. Reilly, 2014)

Tonight, I reread Umair Haque's words, Can Democracy Survive? and think that each trip from what we know as home allows us to understand, often in new ways, how the geo-political (in)forms our personal worlds.  Haque writes:
from Can Democracy Survive? - Umair Haque

Beneath each clash are gross economic and power differences: Palestine and Israel, women and all the powers that suppress them, African Americans and police, 1 percenters and the poor.  

These are borders that need to fall.

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