Thursday, January 20, 2011

WAT Journals--Jan 20

Despite a limited dose of sleep last night—due to our overnight vigil, taken in shifts, at the DoJ last night--I hadn't heard about the article. Mary told me as we were preparing to process from our gathering circle at the Navy Memorial to the DoJ where we would be reunited with the last shift of overnight vigil-ers.

Carmen spoke the gist of it over the sound system as we stood once again before the Department of “Justice.” A report was issued in the New York Times that Attorney General Holder, glaringly absent from our invitation to break bread, will be re-instituting military tribunals for the prosecuting of Guantanamo detainees. It appears that “hearsay evidence” will be incorporated into the cases (since no solid evidence exists), meaning information derived by torture will be used. A devastating development on a number of levels. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/20/us/20trials.html?scp=2&sq=eric%20holder&st=cse

The news sunk like a bitter lump in my stomach and my shoulders slumped. Warm tears welled. My grief was hidden beneath a black hood. I thought of how the grief of the detained men is hidden away from the American people and the world. I thought of the hidden grief of their wives, their children, their fathers and mothers and friends. I want to believe that we are better than this.

Today has been rough for me, emotionally. The absence of solid sleep and food has left me exposed to feelings I'd successfully held at bay up to this point. Much of what has been brewing in me was released as I sat in the middle of the floor of the auditorium. A meeting had just closed and Chantal took my hand and asked, “are you okay?” Though I first said I was, her follow up questions led me to tears and disclosure.

One of the things weighing heaviest on my heart registered as I was watching portions of Taxi to the Darkside (an intense and worthwhile documentary about Bagram and Guantanamo). There was a clip from a post 911 news interview with then vice president Dick Cheney. He was talking about the need to move into the shadows, to use harsher tactics, because of who we are dealing with...these are paraphrases that actually tame what he was saying. I can't remember at the moment or find the video (day ten of fasting, remember, and sleepy). Were we not listening or did we just not care? The thought that people watched this and accepted his words, that people watched this and didn't rise up from their seats in horror and challenge him and the administration was heart-breaking. Especially in the context of having just watched footage of interviews with soldiers about and images of torture and “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The realization that I had never seen this interview with Cheney, that for most of my life I've essentially ignored the news, ignored my responsibility and complicity was devastating. Especially when accompanied by the impression that my negligence and apathy are fairly representative of the general population.

My grief infiltrates me on multiple levels and there have been other factors to my general sense of desolation today. But I am thankful for this community that I have such respect and affection for (though tonight I thought I'd go mad if I had to sit in one more circle for one more meeting!), I am thankful for my already sweet and still deepening friendships with Jerica and Chantal who sat on the floor of the auditorium with me as my facade of well-being crumbled. I am so thankful for Chantal's beautiful gift for playing guitar and singing that smoothed my wrinkled spirit. And I am thankful for the makeshift bed I am about to crawl into.

2 comments:

Palina said...

Awww. *hugs* I cried at the Pentagon except we weren't allowed to hide under hoods.

I'm shy too...had never spoken in such a large crowd.

a.e. nee said...

Palina, hugs back at ya! You should know that some of the Chicago and New York crew spent the night in Baltimore at Jonah House and you were definitely mentioned as a gift to the group. So glad that you made it!