Tuesday, November 8, 2011

If It Could Happen There, Then It Could Happen Here

"I wanted to come back to Sighet to tell you the story of my death. So that you could prepare yourselves while there was still time. To live? I don't attach any importance to my life any more. I'm alone. No, I wanted to come back, and to warn you. And see how it is, no one will listen to me."
- Elie Wiesel, Night, Ch. 1
These are words that are floating in my head these past couple of nights. I read "Night" by Elie Wiesel years ago and it has stayed with me, partially because it is so graphic in his heart break, his survival, but also because there are lessons in it. Those who warned people in his town of the tortures of the Jews during the Holocaust didn't believe that it could happen to them. That is how it is for all of us, isn't it? The level of denial we play with in our hands like clay re-shaping it into what we find pleasing instead of what may actually exist, which is more akin to a blob of the unrecognizable.
I have these words in my head as I watch states vote on the lives of women. Their very personal bodies and beliefs being bantered about as if they were unrecognizable blobs of nothing. My own state is trying to force things into the bodies of women, great probing wands without exception to whether or not they have already been laid victim to crimes unspeakable. I am not at risk of pregnancy or being forced to choose my life over another. Those days are over for me, so why should I care?
If another state forces women into unthinkable circumstances or makes them victims again, why should I be bothered if it is not my state, not my problem, not my molded clay reality?
I try to get my brain to release my worried anxiety stricken hold onto events outside my grasp. But here's the rub, the words of denial from "Night" replay their lesson in my head. The real reality is if it can happen anywhere else in this country, it can happen here. My want to ignore others' problems does little to soothe my conscience. These other women, these sisters living in states outside my own small minded borders are me and I am them. I have daughters, sisters, friends, all of whom I could not fathom being harmed and then shamed into a lifelong decision that they played no part in. So I guess that is why I care. Because if it could happen everywhere and no amount of denial will stop the momentum once it gains traction.
Who am I to say whether a woman should carry a child, should take the Pill, should use or not use an IUD, should not be given the opportunity to have IVF if they so choose for themselves. I find those who think they know better to be arrogant and without compassion or empathy. What if a child is raped and becomes pregnant? 5% of females become pregnant from rape, a one time event. Incest victims do find themselves carrying children that are their siblings as well as children. I don't trust me to make these decisions for others and I certainly don't trust a government agency to do it. Make no mistake I am not comparing the war on women to the Holocaust, but rather looking at the larger picture, the greater lesson of the similarities of denial.I have no problem with those who believe children are sacred from the moment of conception, most of which is born out of religion. But I do not want to force all to believe as I do or them force me to believe as they do. I guess what I really want is my personal freedom to believe what I want, and for others to have the same rights. It used to be in this country we believed in this to our core, but these days I wonder. Have we lost all of our trust in one another? Do we really think controlling women by governmental law is better than making personal decisions?
Hmmm. It's a quandary for some who think they know better. My fear is if this passes as law what is next for us women? I do not see legislation for men. I do not see where men have their reproductive rights at stake.
There is a line in The Vagina Monologues where Eve Ensler writes about clitoridectomies. "In the United States the last recorded clitoridectomy for curing masturbation was performed in 1948-on a five year old girl". Boys were not touched during this period. Every time I hear that line from the play I physically wince. I'm not really acting, I am reacting like any red blooded woman would to the idea of torturing a five year old little girl. Personally, it makes my gag reflex go into high gear making me want to vomit. This didn't happen centuries ago, it happened in 1948. My mother, very much alive was born in the 1930's. If it could happen to that five year old then it could happen to anyone.
I care, because if history has taught us nothing it teaches that when crazy extremists get any kind of head way we are all very much in danger. It takes mere snowflakes to drive an avalanche. If it could happen to them, then make no mistake it is headed our way. I pray in the mornings, quiet respectful prayers to be a better person, to have more empathy, to be kinder, to keep my eyes open even when the views are dark and scary, and to remember if I do not stand for something, I will fall victim to anything.

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