Thursday, March 18, 2010


As I was walking back from helping my brother install J in the car seat (he’s going to visit his Grandmother for the day) I saw a flyer in the bus stop with the word Solidarity on it. In this instance it was for a fundraiser for the earthquake in Chile but it reminded me of my adolescence spent scouring bus stop kiosks and lampposts for flyers for “something to do.” I was a strange (or at least atypical kid) and I was mostly interested in Social Justice gatherings of various types. In my middle school years these largely took the form of Central American solidarity events. Lots of beans and rice consumed while listening to people recount various atrocities for which my government was more or less responsible. Lots of pretending my middle school Spanish was better then it was. Lots of guatamelen skirts worn by Quaker women in tennis shoes.

I poke fun at all this but there was a richness to this, even to the awfulness of the atrocities, a couple of hours spent cross legged on the floor of a church basement connected me to people who were fighting for things like Libertad, Paz, Justicia. (Abstract concepts always sound better in Spanish, I think) I was also intrigued by how often they did this in the name Jesus. School was this confusing illogically constructed box built in the 70’s with the specific purpose of keeping people from jumping out the windows, Church was this immaculately plain building with all the human warmth of a bank (describing the architecture, not the people who were generally kind) but in these gatherings there were colors other then institutional green or congregational white, tastes other then wonder bread and peanut butter cornflake cookies, there was something to die for other then having your name listed in the Amherst Bulletin as an honor role*
student (and I knew people who were dying for exactly that).

*that was an intentional typo


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