Inside/Outside   1 comment


My quiet practice of self-reflection has been shot to hell for the past ten days as I’ve reacted to a grievous act of injustice upon my doorstep.  The little girl, now aged 72, raised midway between the Atlantic shore, where brave young warriors set out to defeat Hitler, and New York harbor, where the Statue of Liberty held up the Torch of Freedom,  has reverted to her most typical, lifelong stance, galvanized for the fight, indifferent to the toll it might take on her body and on her near and dear.  Only the conviction:  This injustice shall not be permitted!

But the truth is I am an old lady, with a bad illness, the management of which consumes 75% of my time and energy.  I am shocked at how worn out I am simply by a few exhortatory phone calls, the penning of a letter, a two hour meeting with a handful of other old ladies.  The work, thinking through the strategy, linking up with the others, articulating the issues involved, in their complexity:  All this is easy, second nature.  What is consuming is the willing.  It WILL not happen!  I will not allow this to happen!  After so long, these last two years, softening into an alignment WITH things as they are.  I find I can accept my illness, even (I think) my mortality, but not injustice, not against a person of color, here, on my territory.

I am shocked by my own assertiveness (some might call it aggressiveness.)

I am confused.

I come from that Middle Eastern stream which some say gave rise to the conceptual world of justice, law, rights.  Moses is credited with having done a great thing by bringing down from the mountain the tablets that said Do This;  Don’t Do That, ten at first, then thousands and millions of commandments.  I was shocked to realize just a few years ago that “human rights” didn’t simply exist, that they were created, you might say invented, when I was already ten years old!  In 1948.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Penned in part by Eleanor Roosevelt.  Promulgated by the United Nations.  Still mostly unknown, unimagined, by the great majority.  But I have heard of human rights, have marched with people, especially in Latin America, “reclamando sus derechos.”. Which was why I called the meeting today:  I figured that N., the victim of injustice on my doorstep, born poor, Chicano, might not perceive himself as having “rights.”. I wanted him to know he has them, that we will back him up.

But, at age 15, I turned to Buddhism and Taoism, to studying things as they are.  As well as the passionate study of nature, ecology, evolutionary history. I sense deeply how much things are as they are, or as they unfold over time, things turning into their opposites, how you can’t push the river….
Right now, the East and the West in me are in confrontation, each holding its own.

2. Later

It’s amazing how much of a ruckus a person can raise from the confines of her bed, if she’s from Brooklyn and her mother’s name was Illaine, as in “Plizz Illaine, plizz”.  When the “dogs” being sicced (sp?) on mgmt. of GPV (where I live) are doddering 70, 80, and 90 year olds who have a hard time remembering what or whom they are outraged at…. The outcome is uncertain, even at the 24th hour.  As a result of my relentlessly pesky efforts, a reporter and photographer from the local press are accompanying N. and one of the younger GPV residents to the showdown meeting tomorrow with his lawyer and the probation officer who will, presumably, have heard from Mr. High-Falutin’ CEO.  I liked titling my latest email to him, “Egypt, Wisconsin, and now GPV.”   A great comic movie could be written about this, all us doddering elders attempting to save burly ex-gang member N., his patiently allowing us to go on and on trying to save him.  In this era of really scary terrorists, he’s so big, strong, vital, and innocent, accusations notwithstanding;  he is quoted as saying to A., an Iranian resident with little English who wept because of a setback to some of the flowers on her patio, “”How can I make you feel happy?”  It’s like being in a 1950’s British classic comedy.

3. Still later

N. and his family moved out tonight.

I don’t sing a lot, but I just found myself singing a very sad melody, again and again, and I realized, after expressing and hearing so much outrage, what deep grief we are all feeling at the loss of this magical family from our midst, that embodied the dearest of things: They were youth and vitality, sweetness, abundance, safety, fun, the embodiment of the old-fashioned American dream.  We may not have known the details but somehow we knew before all of this that N. had been the bad boy, the poor boy, the son of poor, hard-working immigrants who made it, who turned good.  Not fancy good, not college good, but just good basic work, with things like sinks and toilets.  When the toilet overflowed, it wasn’t a complete disaster because we knew N. would take care of it.  He never got rattled, always remained calm, and appeared to have inexhaustible strength and energy to do whatever needed to be done.  Day or night, weekday or weekend.  In our stage of life, we don’t need a sexy lover.  We need someone who will help us with the physical world that becomes harder and harder for us to deal with.  Not to mention that this facility is itself getting older and frailer.  N. was the ideal maintenance man.  He was good, and he was good to us.  We felt that GPV had been good to him, too, so it was all good.  Such a simple but rare thing these days that we could all feel good about.

People here tonight are definitely even more sad than angry.

Posted February 22, 2011 by judybloomgardener in Uncategorized

One response to “Inside/Outside

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  1. Go Judy you made the front page of the Sentinel today.

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