Thursday, January 12, 2017

Border Crossings

It is interesting to hear this morning's news about U.S. tanks moving through Poland.  I think back to the 80's and the border of east and west which played such a large part of foreign policy--I think of the TV movie The Day After--nuclear war starts on the border of east and west Germany, as I'm remembering the plot.

I think of how different populations can interpret actions differently.  The U.S. says that this troop movement is nothing out of the ordinary.  But Russia might see it differently.  And do Polish citizens feel protected or vulnerable?

I think of earlier conflicts, particularly World War II, with the German invasion of Poland launching conflagrations of all sorts.

And I do wonder how we will see borders in this brave new world we live in.  When foreign governments try to influence an election, have they crossed a border?  Are we more incensed about influencing by way of technology or by way of murder?  I'm thinking of old-fashioned coups and new fangled hacking.

As we have been zooming towards a new administration, I've been feeling some despair about how it feels like we're falling backward in time.  I've been thinking about resistance music and resistance movements.  More than once, I've wanted to say, "I just can't do this any more."

I find myself in an interesting position, especially as I think about my participation in resistance movements of the past, when I was much younger--in some ways, back then, I had more to lose.  I was surrounded by men being ordered to register for the draft (the 80's version, not the 60's version), and it was hard not to imagine them being called up to protect Central America or to fight against the U.S.S.R.  I fully expected my future to dissolve in a mushroom cloud.

Now, if I wanted, I could likely refuse to be part of any resistance movement.  I have money in the bank, and soon, I'll get my passport renewed (I was going to do this, regardless of who won the election). 

I know how to pass, how to blend in.  I have no children, no pets, no arrest record--I know how tyrannical governments of the past have controlled populations.

Yes, it would be easy to say, "I'm done resisting.  I'm going to settle into my comfortable life.  Let others fight."

But I will not.  I spent my childhood and adolescence wondering why people let Hitler get away with his actions as long as they did.  I couldn't understand why more people didn't work harder in the Civil Rights movement.

I've spent my adult years having some glimpses of answers.  When the slaughter was happening in the former Yugoslavia in the 90's, I understood how difficult it was to know what to do, especially from a distance.  And even when resistance movements take up residence in the neighborhood, it's easy to let others do the fighting.

In this time, it's hard not to feel like we're at some hinge point, like August of 1939 or Freedom Summer (1964).  Are we moving towards war?  Are we moving towards a more expansive society?  I could make the argument either way.

I plan to be part of the team bending the arc of history towards justice--keeping those borders secure.

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