Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences, Mike.
I empathize with that feeling of knowing that "I should have been somewhere
else", although in a different way. I was born in Santiago, Chile, 20 days
after September 11, 1973, the day of Pinochet's coup d'etat: The city was
militarized and the family myth says that the Obstetrician or the Doctor
could not come because had been detained. My family left afterwards to
Venezuela, by obvious reasons. We came back to Santiago, 7 years before
Pinochet lost control of the country. In 1990, democracy came back and the
country accommodated to the new situation by means of agreements that
postponed any hope for justice in the name of "reconciliation" (as if any
reconciliation is possible without justice).
So, my childhood was signed by the nostalgia of a country I never knew.
Afterwards, during the 90s, that nostalgia changed and became the nostalgia
of things I never lived. The Civil rights movement and its echoes in Chile
was one of those. You mentioned you went trough a number of disappointments
as you became older. In Chile, for my generation, those disappointments were
the state of affairs. We inherited those disappointments, somehow: The
justice that never came (or that came too late or was too short); the
economic order Pinochet imposed with a huge social cost and became the norm.
And, beyond Chile, the growing awareness of the inequalities between the
developed world and the developing world; the fact decisions have been made
by the power that be, neglecting any voice to the poorest or the weakest or
those that don't live in the North.
Thus, sometimes, I have that similar feeling. I should have been "in
Washington, and not in Iowa" as well. A pity I was born too late to be on
time. Let us make of those memories of experiences that my generation never
lived the seeds of a better future. Let us teach those that are even younger
than me to Remember --at least.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Cole" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Monday, January 19, 2004 11:20 PM
Subject: MLK, 40 years ago and today.
> Thank you for your rememeberances of Martin Luther King, David. He has
> been on my mind too.
> For lots of reasons, the thoughts generated by this rememberance of his
> birthday are different for me and for you.
> Two things dominated my thoughts.
> One was the memory of driving from New York to California in the summer
> of 1963 on our way home from Moscow. Having been disconnected from the
> US for so long, we did not know about the march on Washington when we
> arrived in New York and learned about it from the little radio stations
> as we headed west, regretting our ignorance, upset not to be with it
> to know that we should be in Washington, not Iowa. (Strange that Iowa is
> our faces today).
> We, too had a dream. We, like the rest of the world, bore witness to the
> multiple nightmares that followed.
> For whatever reason, the thoughts dominating my thinking this weekend were
> a gloomier caste. Perhaps age, perhaps too many disappointments (highly
> correlated, perhaps). What I could not get out of my mind was the
> evidence that US schools are as segregated today as they were in the
> 1960's and headed in the wrong direction. Or the rip off of the poor
> of my state who have no health care and too little work while their sons
> and daughters are sent abroad to be killed even as they kill, with God
> on their side.... just as god is on the side of those exploited people who
> kill them. While they vote for those who craft those policies.
> In the 1960's, young men flew over my head while I taught at Irvine, on
> way to save Vietnam for democracy. Today, their children sail out of
> San Diego harbor on an analgous mission.
> Tomorrow it will all be forgotten in the flurry of confusion engendered by
> the events in Iowa. Sure is a flat state for a Californian to drive
> even 40 years later. But, then, California is kinda flat compared to the
> land east of Kandahar, where God is on everyone's side.
> And tomrrow I get to spend time with my students and a bunch of kids,
> all of whom have dreams of their own, and lives far more difficult than
> my own, with whom I am privileged to play in a way that others interpret
> as promoting development, for which I am especially grateful. It beats
> working for a living.
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