Six years ago today my dear friend Mavis Biesanz died. We talked almost daily on the phone, and she and I would probably have a discussion about what is happening today as compared to 2008. I miss our visits and telephone conversations. So this is for you, Mavis. I am afraid the situation in the world continues to look bleak.
The Olympics in Russia are almost over. So far the negatives and the ridiculous that have been the subject of the media, including the social media, have not resulted in predicted possible disaster. Looking back to the time of the last summer Olympics, I noted again that the French are right, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
In July 2008:
The Olympic Torch is making its wobbly way around the world on its journey to China. Along the way people have been trying to block its progress because they are protesting China’s repression of the people of Tibet. Some protesters have other axes to grind and have joined the fray. There have been, perhaps as many as one million people marching and blocking this symbolic journey.
The media coverage has been remarkable. CNN and other stations covered the aborted run through San Francisco hour after hour. Coverage has been maintained in every country where there has been an objection. Leaders of some countries have decided not to attend the opening ceremonies and a number of companies have removed their sponsorship of the games. Once again I find the power of the press amazing. It makes me wonder what might have happened had the media covered so enthusiastically the 30 million people who marched against the Iraq war before it started.
What makes it all so ironic is that when the Olympics took place in ancient Greece, it was the custom that countries at war had to declare a cease fire while the games were in progress if they wished to participate. Internal strife was not a problem. Outright war was.
Lately I seem to be attracted to the ironic. Thus I have been following the news story of the unfortunate 437 children and their mothers of the San Angelo religious compound. (A compound is an enclosed space containing buildings.)
It all seems to be about sex with underage girls. The girls are not prostitutes, so they are not guilty of breaking any laws, their mothers may be guilty of being part of a polygamous family and possibly knowingly allowing their daughters to be married to much older men. But many of them know no other way to live – they have been brainwashed. So it leaves the men who are in charge of the compound who are the wrongdoers.
But who is being punished? Does anyone think that even if these men are put on trial and sent to prison they are going to suffer any more than these children and their mothers? They are being torn from each other and the children are being placed with strange foster parents, who, I will bet, are not prepared to help them emotionally.
We won’t even talk about the fact that there are probably just as many pregnancies and/or rapes of underage children in any comparable population not in a compound. We have to admit if we are honest that girls under the age of 18 are having sex.
On the frivolous side, there have been many comments about the uniform frontier dresses the women wear and the fact that they are not allowed to cut their hair. I’ve just noticed recently that the low slung jeans and half blouses are disappearing from the city scene. Talk about uniforms! Also part of the current fashion are hair lengtheners one can buy to make their long straight hair even longer.
The difference, of course, is the freedom to choose. Free choice makes all the difference. The women and the children of the compound had no choice. The men ruled. And now, with the government involved, they still have no choice. Either way they are the losers. All in all, it is a strange sort of justice.
Meanwhile, in Costa Rica, I received an e-mail from Kevin, who is concerned about the big, old and spectacularly beautiful trees along Ruta 7 between Ciudad Colon and Piedades. He feels they are in danger of being cut down to make room for condominiums. I haven’t seen them, but I love trees. I understand why they were once worshiped. Is there anything to be done to preemptively save these trees? They are certainly better for the environment than condos.
And another e-mail asked me about the story of the artist who, if the news is correct, tied up a stray dog and let him starve in his studio as an art display. This took place in Nicaragua, but the artist has his work hanging in a gallery in San José. There is a petition protesting this.
Is there a petition protesting what is happening to the women and children of San Angelo? An ongoing petition protesting the daily deaths of the people of Iraq, the death of life-giving trees or the starving children in Latin America, not to mention Darfur and soon, other parts of the world? Even if there were petitions, would the Media cover these topics endlessly?
I am beginning to think that blushing is not the only thing humans do that other animals do not, I think we are also the only animal able to accept living in the midst of so much irony. Maybe that is why we blush.