Good day to you or good night - I will not assume to know when you are reading this. Today, as I write, it is Thanksgiving day. Thanksgiving: the quintessentially American holiday; we over-eat and then eat more (and note that much of what we eat has been brutalized in ways "Consider the Lobster" does not brush against lightly with even the barest of fingertips), and then we stay up late to stand in lines inside our tents (and I do not know about you, but I am struck by the visual parallel between the OWS movement and the lines of people waiting for the doors of the mall to open like Abraham waiting for god to stay his hand); we wait inside our tents so that we can purchase things we do not need and will not appreciate (and, of course, most of these goods are produced by people who we consume in similar ways to the turkeys).
I say we, but I mean you.
What I mean to say is, even if I wanted to do these things (I am not ready to speculate on what various joys and despairs might take over me as I walked down aisle after aisle of electronics, clothing, toys, and home goods), I can not. The prison guard a) will not let me out of this prison and b) does not eat meat.
She does not eat meat?
What is this? "Quorn Turk'y Roast?" I will say only this: here is one food that I do not necessarily covet. Globular fake meat. Yum. And I would like to note that this fake meat is not vegan, so does this indicate that she cares less for cows and chickens? The turkey is to be spared, but, hey! Cows and chickens are jerks? (On a related note, abuses at a factory chicken egg producer have been noted in recent press. Here is an article: ABC News on chicken abuse)
I am speaking rather tongue in cheek, in case you could not tell, and I am not really one to speak here. I love meat. I would eat copious amounts of it if the prison guard would let me. I simply do not like the idea of avoiding confrontation with reality.
Apologies for my digression.Please note that I do not mean to suggest these problems are your fault or even the prison guard's fault (although let not this statement indicate her innocence in other affairs!), but I do believe we as living creatures must face difficult truths.
In an essay titled "Some Proximity to Darkness," from David Griffith's book A Good War is Hard to Find: The Art of Violence in America he writes: "Pain destroys language, such that the person is negated and the world surrounding them is slowly 'unmade,' discounted. If we think of the photos and images of the violated and tortured [he is speaking specifically of the Abu Ghraib photographs here, but his ideas can be applied to images like these in general] in this way, as memorializing the negation of humanity and the incremental undoing of the world, then we are closer to understanding the stakes of bearing witness. There is no closure when we look away, only unremitting pain and anguish" (83).
So let us look at the tradition we celebrate and how we celebrate it. Let us remember the genocide that shaped our past and continues to shape us today. Let us look at what we eat with an unflinching honesty. Let us work to understand the world in which we live; the power we allow corporations and the corrupt to have over us. Let us grapple with the OWS movement and the ways in which it has been "dealt with" by the police and the government. Let us, as we stand in line or huddle in our tents, acknowledge the privileges we are granted based on race, ethnicity, sex, location, species.
And let us try to begin to understand the suffering of the poorest who toil and become ill and love each other and fight and die and who create the goods we are encouraged to buy tonight and tomorrow.
I am not saying that I have an answer or a plan of action. I am a cat. Living my own imprisoned life is, for me, an already arduous task.
And I know the same is true for you. You have a family. Work. Responsibilities. It is more likely than not that very many people depend upon you.
But we should not allow our focus to remain so steadily pointed to our own lives. We need to look up and around us and see what is happening in our world. We need to look up even if only for a moment.
Even if only to immediately then drop our faces in shame and despair.