Jane Bland, Episode 6

My brain hurts, and I am tired. In the aftermath of the event (what will we end up calling it, because it has no fancy name yet; the horror? the destruction? September 11? the terrorist act?) my brain has frozen. Words cannot be formed, my opinions change daily. Too much information yet not enough, and who does one believe? CNN, the alternative press, the government of the US, the governments of the middle east, individuals, groups with agendas, close personal friends, family, everyone it seems has an opinion of who and why and what can be done or not done about it.

I’m Jane Bland, and my brain hurts.

I was never much of an active feminist. I rejoiced when women burned their bras, as that meant that I too could discard that instrument of uncomfort which was mean for women who were built more voluptuously than I. Because there was something in it for me, I adopted that agenda. I became a Vietnam War Protester probably because some boy I admired was doing the same. Which was the same reason I started smoking. I lost my virginity for the same type of reasoning; because the boy/man I was with didn’t believe I was a virgin. I love to say I Told You So! And also because I’ve always somewhat enjoyed the underdog aspect. I am a moderate conservative liberal with no personal agenda, going with the prevailing underdog opinion of the time.

Because I have always lived a life of personal freedom it was very hard for me to accept that women in Afghanistan were denied even the most basic, essential rights of life. Several years ago I took education of their plight as one of my agendas. I asked people to visit the RAWA site and applaud the courage of the women who were bringing these horrors to light, at the risk of their lives. Not at the risk of their livelihoods, their liberty, but their very lives. Of course, I didn’t actually do anything about it, other that spout my indignation. I didn’t contribute money or goods to their relief effort, I just yammered on about the horror. “Isn’t it sad, isn’t it too bad? Just LOOK at the lives these women are forced to live!”

I’m Jane Bland, and I did nothing.

When the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas I was outraged. Not because of their religious significance, but because of their history, their artistic merit. What arrogance, I thought. It was the same type of outrage I felt when they dammed Glen Canyon, putting ancient petroglyphs under gallons of water for the benefit of irrigating the golf courses of Las Vegas. Now I would never have the opportunity to see those magnificent stone carvings, those ancient words left on the canyon walls. I had suffered a loss. Never mind that I ignore all the other wonders that surround me. Never mind that I would never actually VISIT those places. There are dinosaur tracks nearby that I’ve never visited. Will I be outraged when the State of Utah fails to come through with funding to preserve them before the thousands of visitors to the site destroy them? Probably. Will I volunteer my time, money and talents to help save them before the fact, rather than after? Probably not. More likely I will just spout my indignation.

I’ve heard a lot of talk about God these days. I’ve heard people tell God to bless America. I’ve heard people say that God does indeed Bless America, and that Liberty is a Gift from God. I wondered at my luck in being born American. I’m not an anything-American. I can claim no particular heritage other than middle-European-breeding-stock. I’ve spent most of my life around white people, in small towns in various parts of this America that God blesses. I’ve lived in poverty, or what this government defines as poverty, and I’ve lived in middle-class comfort. I’ve raised two children to manhood who did not, despite my lofty dreams, become astronauts or political leaders or college graduates. These boys do not want to go to war. They are pacifists. One has a wife, and child to raise. The other said he might be a stretcher bearer, or take some other Conscientious Objector role. But he could not kill another for this war. They are like me, they spout their outrage. As they say, the apple does not fall far from the tree. Despite all this, God continues to bless us, as we are Americans.

I’m Jane Bland, and I’m outraged.

The Boy Scouts came and planted a flag in my yard. It was because I had subscribed to their yearly fundraiser which puts an American flag in the neighborhood yards on major American holidays. They came every day at dawn to put it there, and every night at dusk to put it away. They did this for an entire week after the event, the horror, the terrorist act, September 11. Before this happened I had decided privately that I would not subscribe to their service this year in protest of the Boy Scouts not allowing gay leaders. Now I feel obligated to give them money for services performed. My personal agenda, my OPINION, has become confused and unsure.

I have always considered myself a good and kind person. I have always considered myself relatively intelligent. I liked taking on-line intelligence tests that proved I could reason out complex problems as well or better than the average white mongrel blessed American. I used to volunteer in Hospice, and with the Association for Retarded Citizens (which has changed it’s name to something more politically correct now, but since it’s been years since I’ve worked with that group, I couldn’t tell you what it is.) Yet in the aftermath of the event, the horror, the terrorist act, September 11, I became frozen. I did not donate blood. I did not donate money or goods to the American Red Cross. Privately I prayed for no war. Privately I prayed for George Bush, my prayer taking the form of asking God, who blesses all Americans, to especially bless this man with wisdom and courage. Privately I dispaired.

Now we are at war. America’s New! Improved! War! against Terrorism. We drop bombs and medical supplies and politically correct food. One would hope our war against terrorism will turn out to be more successful than our War! Against! Drugs!

My personal agendas no longer have the same meaning. The women in Afghanistan will now suffer even more horribly. The Boy Scouts will still not allow gay scout leaders. Glen Canyon dam will still remain in place, and I still won’t wear a bra. My brain will still hurt, and I’ll still do nothing.

I’m Jane Bland, and I’m an Outraged American. God bless Me.

Beth Lock

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