Diary Post: Irons in the fire

Today is happiness.  I’m not sure why.  It’s the same world, the same bed, the same blankets and sheets and pillows as every other morning.  There’s still genocide, injustice, and marginalization, including mine.  But today I’m content.  Perhaps a cloud has cleared, this hell ride of the last five months, starting with the Human Rights Committee retreat and the horrid infighting and betrayals that resulted.  Through it all I became, not just an activist with a disability, but a disability rights activist with a clearer understanding of the immense discrimination against and invisibility of people with disabilities.  Andy and I have become closer, the threats against me and the betrayals as veteran activists responded so abysmally to the reaction to the scheduling of a small meeting at UTLA headquarters on the BDS campaign (boycott, divestiture and sanctions against Israel,) illuminating the need for greater security and less isolation.  (more on this in a later post, possible to the Café Intifada blog, but I’ll keep readers informed!) This has resulted in expediting our plans to move me out of the San Gabriel Valley and to find a place together.  We have spent much time talking and growing as a couple and unifying our mission and purpose.  We are well matched.  Nothing can get closer to heaven than that.
In my isolation and the betrayals of activists I have known, some for over twenty years, as they scurried to protect their lofty positions, now that they run the union, betraying an issue they have fought for, afraid that a principled stand might ruin the next election, I needed to assess my personal security.  I had hoped that we might have learned something from the witch hunts and purges of the fifties, but apparently not.  In times like these, acts of desperation, anger and self-preservation can result in real tragedy.  But my security doesn’t come from the left, though I wish it did, I wish we had that wisdom.  I do need to move closer to Los Angeles, make a home with Andy, and find ways to build real, sustaining community in this city of greed, ambition and distance, where people get so busy they don’t have time to feel lonely…until they get sick…or lose a job…or times get tough.  But I’m not totally unprotected here.  While we don’t have a community of values, my neighbors would respond to an emergency and would help me.  I do know people in city government in this small town, who would respond quickly to any real threat to my safety.  I have a dog, a security system and even video cameras, which I installed after both our cars were vandalized in my driveway last year.  It took me several months to realize the resources I do have, so lost in the immensity and the rapidity of the events that shattered and transformed my relationship within the Human Rights Committee and the teachers’ union.
Hate mail, death threats, betrayal,  isolation and new alliances, my father’s death, the illnesses of friends and family,  forced me to rearrange my life, accelerating plans already in the works.  The last several months have been consumed with deep inner reflection, grief and hard work.  We had planned to make a home together next summer,  but the opportunity presented itself and the necessity insisted that we put that plan in place much quicker.  I have been busy getting my home ready to sell in what is a rather difficult market.  A year ago, this home would have sold for more than I am asking for it now, and within the first weekend.  But the place looks great and the work is done.  I am a fisherwoman, the hook is baited.  Now I wait.
I have had to take a deep appraisal of reality; what my physical limitations allow me to do,  what social realities prevent me from doing, who my allies are, what alliances I need to build.  One of the most frustrating of social realities is that my illness prevents me from fighting and defending myself the way I used to, the stress of the conflict impacting my health so acutely.  More frustrating is that disability brings out cruelty in others.  (Apparently there is an entire body of work, from Freud on, on disability and sadism, documenting that normally sane people become excessively cruel when they perceive weakness or disability.)  So that I come under greater attack and attract greater hostility than if I weren’t disabled.
Acceptance brings change_Acceptance brings change
Fighting reality is a fruitless battle.  The truth is that I am a very disabled woman in a very intolerant world.  I struggle with the ethics of popular culture, what I call spiritual fascism: that all illness is physical failure, that all misfortune, the result of negative thinking.  Many of the platitudes reflect middle class and even upper class realities: “Go with the flow; “ (I would have washed away long ago!) “Do what you love, the money will follow;”  (only if it is profit making!!!—who survives these days writing poetry or defending universal human rights?—money is the ruling class’ measure of worth—small wonder they don’t pay me to bring them down!!!!)
The one I’m struggling with right now:  “What would you do if you thought you could not fail?”  While this is a great inspirational saying for those whose inactions simply reflect a fear of success, it may be very helpful, but for those whose lives are truly limited by financial, social or physical constraints, the results will be quite different.  Perhaps I should write more fiction, because, with no shortage of good ideas, what I have lacked has been the resources to bring them to fruition, the results have been some very public failures, leading some people to conclude that I have acted corruptly or dishonestly, when what has really played out is an inability to align my vision with the limits of the current reality.
I want to live my life in the open, embracing the notion that transformation can only come in the illumination of truth, that silence = death, that if we all live in our own miserable cocoons and pretend that everything is great, then nothing ever changes and we become even more isolated.
But, Andy reminds me that not everything is public.  I understand this when it comes to the telling of other people’s stories, and no matter how relevant or central to my own, nor how cruel someone has been to me,   I err on the side of prudence, certain that these matters are theirs to tell, not mine.  But my own story has been perhaps a bit too open.  Or perhaps doesn’t need the telling in the present tense.
It has been a long time since I have posted to this blog.  So much has happened.  So much.
So, I have many irons in the fire, but I think I’ll play close to the vest and see where the winds take me before showing my hand.
I want to write.
Build community.
Make a home with Andy.
Give Leon the support and the distance he needs as he makes his way into adulthood.
Build alliances.
Make art.
Make love.
Seek justice!
Fight for freedom.
Will I meet you on the path?  What visionary ideas can we bring into reality?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s