Saturday, October 6, 2012

Gathering Firewood

Before I get going about my kitchen again, one which is piped with a natural gas stove, lighted by electricity and provided with a refrigerator/freezer which is big enough to lose food inside of it, until some of it is too rotten to use, I'm going to pour myself a cup of coffee and re-read this article about 8 women killed by a drone in Afghanistan while gathering firewood to use to cook their families' morning meals.

What were you doing September 16? They died by mistake that day.

Interestingly, it got a lot of play in the foreign press, not so much here. Rev. John Dear wrote about it in Common Dreams. He maintains that resources are what we are after in Afghanistan, not social justice as we used to hear. Funny, they don't want the social justice we are selling them. I think they notice how many mistakes we make, but even if we were perfect Boy Scouts, historically they have never wanted Ferenghi (their word, before Star Trek appropriated it).

I remember learning Spanish from a tv set in elementary school, while around me in the classroom were a dozen Spanish-speaking farmworkers' children who maintained a stony silence. Each one, teach one? Kind of a one-way street, top-down is how it played. We could have conversed with each other, but that wasn't part of the program. So you always have to ask yourself: What's the program? Are you led from the top down, to believe you have certain needs which you have to fulfill at a certain rate? Even if you are enjoying your life, what is the underlying price tag? Do boys in failing post-industrial communities choose to pay off their debts by going to war? Do rural boys seek honor and distinction by proving they can stand the heat of well, if not battle so much anymore, at least the danger of being in hostile territory? Do girls now seek the same experiences for similar reasons? What is the pay-off?

What could we learn by walking a mile in the other person's moccasins? What could we learn retracing the steps of women who must gather firewood? Are we surrounded by the ghosts of the past even in New England? I know that I live on a spot where Indians lived for more than 10,000 years. I have found stones, perhaps tools if I knew better, which perfectly fit my hand, while digging in my garden (this property was once on the shore of a glacial kettle hole pond, since drained). I know that the story of America skips from the Pilgrims very quickly to the American Revolution. There has to be a story in between, and there is. A very bloody one, in which my sister and I have ancestors who figured there. It's the background. It's part of the reason we see things as we do.

And so the branches fall from my maple trees, which prune themselves in this weather. I know they will burn a short time for firewood. Like those women,  I pick them up. But what I use is natural gas when I cook my food.

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