Saturday, March 12, 2011

I Wonder ...

I started this blog on 28 Feb and with all the tasks that we have had here recently I never got to finish it in a timely manner.

Our days here in America are filled with many tasks, many which keep us from our routines that occupied us back in Thailand.  However we do find some time to keep updated with the outside world through the Internet as well as fit in a little bit of television.

A couple of recent news items have gotten me to reflect, wonder, and share some observations with people.

When I was in Brasil I used to tell people in Portuguese that "Everyman has two lives; his real life and his life in his dreams.  Lucky is the man that has a third life; his life without his wife"  That statement always brought a great deal of laughing, back slaps, and sometimes a free drink.  I believe that I had captured the joie de vivre that prevails in Brasilian society or at least male Brasilian society.

Here in America I am not sure that such a statement would be as widely appreciated.  There is the reality that we wish to believe; a perception created by our training, our education, validated by our friends and family, and necessitated by our culture.  There is also another reality - the reality that is the "truth" which sometimes runs counter to our wishes, our beliefs, our needs and is often only supported by facts and evidence.

According to today's CDC website there are 4,500,000 people bitten by dogs in the USA each year.  In my 61 years I have yet to meet a dog owner who has admitted that their dog bites.  The reality is 4,500,000 people were bitten by a dog.  The perception seems to be that "my" dog is not capable of such an act.

Demonstrators, protesters, revolutionaries, freedom fighters, average people thirsty for freedom, or traitors; depending upon your point of view and perspective are being killed in the streets in many parts of the world.  Many of us Americans are grateful that we live in a country were we can protest and not be attacked or killed.  It is a natural gratefulness that comes for our belief that we live in the land of the free with freedom of speech.  We were taught from the start of our schooling that we are different from all other countries,  We have freedom of speech.  We can protest.  Our Constitution documents our right, the right of the people, to peacefully assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances.  The same Constitution grants authority to the Federal Government to call forth the Militia to suppress Insurrections (insurrection is defined in common dictionaries as "armed revolt").

Yes, I know and I do appreciate that we as American citizens do enjoy  a greater freedom to protest against our government but there are limits to that freedom.  In other countries where people are attacking and seizing police stations and seizing military bases, the "protesters" are being shot and killed.  If a similar situation were to arise here in the USA, I am confidant a similar fate would await our protesters who would be branded as insurrectionists, traitors, or whatever term was necessary to invoke the process to suppress the armed revolt or revolution.  Our Government is just as capable and at times has been willing to restrict the people's right to peacefully assemble and petition their government and at times to use violence against the people.

On Facebook I reminded people of the Vietnam Era protests.  In Late April 1971 I watched C5A military planes bearing elements of the 82nd Airborne Division (combat soldiers) fly over my parent's home in Connecticut on their way to strategic locations along the East Coast.  The Vietnam War protesters had vowed to shutdown Washington D.C. for May Day.  The Federal Government initiated a massive military and police response to the threat.  Fortunately no one was killed that time.  However protesters were shot and killed at Kent State the previous year.  During the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s many people while peacefully protesting were attacked by police using dogs, batons, and water hoses.

Although these incidents can be excused as having happened long ago in the past and that "we have learned our lesson", the point remains that under certain circumstances our government as well as any other government is capable of armed violence against its citizens.  I would not want to bet that if a group of "protesters, demonstrators, ..." were to attack the City of Groton Police Dept and to take over the US Navy Submarine Base in Groton that there would not be blood in our streets just as in Libya, or Egypt.  There is peaceful protests and there are violent protests.  There are protests and then there are revolts or insurrections.  There is a thin and fine line that separates one man's peaceful demonstrations from a government's fear of revolt or insurrection.  Calling for the overthrow of the US Government is just as serious of an offence as calling for the ouster of Mubarak, Gadhafi, Chavez, Jung Ill, or any other established leader be it legitimately established or illegitimately established.  When the power elite are threatened with violence they can be counted on to do all within their power to maintain their power as well as their power structure.

The second news article that struck me and also highlighted another reality - a reality that is the "truth" which sometimes runs counter to our wishes, our beliefs, our needs and is often only supported by facts and evidence, was the disclosure that US, Federal and State governments, had conducted medical experiments on people without their consent.  We are familiar with the experiments where medications were withheld from black men who had syphilis in order to document the natural progression of the disease.  The new experiments involved soldiers, mental patients, and prisoners.  Some of the eperiments were conducted quite close to here at the Norwich State Hospital, a mental hospital that was run by the State of Connecticut.  We are also familiar with the reports of unethical medical experiments conducted by the Nazis and the Japanese during WWII.  It is shocking to learn that even after revelation of these war crimes, our governments still conducted medical experiments on uninformed and non-consentual people.  As far as I know and as far as it has been acknowledged the US medical experiments were no where as near as vile or tragic as the revealed war crimes but they crossed the same line at their conception - experimenting on people who were not aware of the experiments or gave their informed consent to participate in the experiments.  The common denominator of the war crimes and experiments here in America was that the victims were all subject to the absolute power and control of the perpetrators.  Once again we could comfort ourselves in believing that this too was long ago and we have learned our lesson. 

I prefer to remain vigilant and accepting that what happened once could happen again - if allowed.

I  prefer to accept the reality that given the circumstances and conditions, a people or a government is capable of anything - be it good or evil.

My ambition and goal in photography is to show extraordinary people doing ordinary things. In so doing, I wish to show how different people appear, to provide a glimpse of other cultures, to celebrate the diversity of mankind, and to demonstrate that despite our appearances we are so much alike.

it is logical that in my writing I would also demonstrate how different people are, provide a glimpse of other cultures, to celebrate the diversity of mankind, and to point out that dispite our differences, we are so much alike.

In some cases this may be the "truth" which runs counter to our wishes, our beliefs, or our needs.

I wonder if there are others who believe the same.

I wonder how many others wonder the same.

1 comment:

  1. Debra Elkins DickeyMarch 12, 2011 at 9:57 PM

    I liked your post. As for protesting, I remember being glared at for not going and protesting Vietnam while in college. With two nephews the same age as me over there fighting, I couldn't protest against it. Not that I liked the war - who in their right mind does like war - but it was a complex situation.

    Finding out about medical experiments being carried on in Norwich, and other places in our country, is a reminder that we must be vigilant in protecting those who cannot protect themselves.

    That old saying seems to prove truer and truer the longer my life goes on: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"----George Santayana



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