I woke with a jerk tonight, sweat covered, cold fear spreading through my solar plexus.
In my dream I’d been in some sort of hospital or public building; shiny waxed floors, tall doors, everything beige. Someone was yelling at me not to run. Start over. This time, don’t run when the men burst in with machine guns blazing. I kept thinking, what the hell do I do then, just stand here and take it? Do it again. Of course, this being a dream, it happened over and over until I woke up queasy with terror.
I lay awake for a while, calming down, trying to assess what the hell had just happened to my psyche. It occurred to me at some point that I’d stopped protesting the wars that my country has been instigating for, let me see here, about 21 years. The apathy must have gotten to me somewhere along the way as it seems to for most Americans.
I remember when I first started protesting in 1990. I was in college watching the first bombs go off on CNN, my high school boyfriend's mother called me as her son had just deployed with a tank unit. I remember exactly when I stopped actively protesting on the street, 2004, when my husband and I deemed it too dangerous to protest in a group. We were living in L.A. with an infant, and neither one of us felt safe enough to take him to a protest where we might have to protect him from tear gas or police in riot gear.
That was, I realize, seven years ago. In that time, I’ve often thought I should publicly protest these wars again, but I felt out of the loop about when the organized protests were happening in downtown Portland where I live again. A fleeting thought goes by every now and again that I should just take a sign down to the corner of Hawthorne and stage my own protests, but the thought dissolves as quickly as it comes. I have things to do and I’d only be preaching to the choir around here. The apathy is quiet, but deep.
It hits me, thinking about my son, that I heard the childish imitations of pistols and machine guns for hours today. A playdate had culminated in shoot ‘em up games. In the past, I’ve had a rule of no shooting each other, but after many friends have pointed out that they themselves had played shooting games as children and not ended up as gun wielding sociopaths, and that repressing those games are what could lead to a fascination with it, I decided to let it go. So it was that I ignored the game, and even tried to assure my son that it was fine with me when he saw me come out to the yard. Well then, there at least was my explanation for the dream.
The wars that I quit marching and signing petitions against seven years ago have continued unabated since then, something that I never would have predicted. They just keep rolling along, ruining people’s lives in what is now many countries, including ours, while emptying our coffers. I am also selfishly astonished to discover that I have reason to be fearful for my son’s life. Who would have thought that we’d be sending our young people into battle for this long? Who’s to say that in 10 more years we won’t still be embroiled in battles for resources? Will they be conscripting by then or will my son join up for the college money as education dollars are channeled to buy more weapons?
Perhaps the selfishness of mothers is required for us to finally make the politicians stop. I had my son at the start of a mini baby boom, so there are many of us that have children of our own to protect. Will that be the starting point for waking up and clearing away the lethargy that has overtaken us?
Guess I'll go listen to some X , start my letter writing to Congress and try to find out if anyone is still protesting downtown.