Saturday, September 13, 2008
PREPARING FOR A STATE OF SIEGE
News bleary, I am tired and on edge over things that are really out of my control like Hurricane Ike, global economic disaster and continued civil unrest in Bolivia. I’m thinking about a conversation yesterday with a Bolivian friend preparing for a State of Siege. She tells me her psychosis – the national psychosis -- is a permanent state of preparedness. She is prepared for a nuclear war and every contingency in between.
I think about how here in America, I myself have begun to act the way my mom did when I was a child and we lived with frequent Coup d’Etats. We were always ready for a revolution and curfew and periodically the two Peace Corps volunteers who lived with us would come home through the rooftops of the city rather than face anti-American violence on the streets. At the ready were 100 lb. bags of flour and rice and sugar. Big wheels of cheese and beef jerky would come from my uncle in the Beni who was a rancher. Baskets of grapes and fresh fruit in season would come from a friend who had a vineyard. We weren’t people of means, but had a network that we could count on. Nothing ever was lacking for us --even as I was acutely aware that somewhere very close people had so much less than us in their small mud homes and that the violence necessarily reflected a desire to change that equation. I was still a child and thought Superman's United Nations ideal would come to pass -- something I still wait for.
Plus ‘ca change. These days I have Costco and my favorite Halal meats and one extraordinary friend who likes to bake. I’m mostly preparing for inflation, because in my own particular circumstance I feel it. I’m deluded, but I think today’s expenses will be valid -- my tomato paste won’t go to waste and I will be able to feed all the people I love to entertain with countless rice pilafs. The worse will never really come because in some ways I have already faced some of the worse and was resilient enough to be here talking to you.
Yet, the issue of preparedness haunts me. I may by sheer luck of the draw be able to take my proscuitto along to the end of the world but that’s not guaranteed. As the struggle for global resources is intensifying and the “Mad Max” world may come to pass, the Bolivian crisis is a timely reflection of what is happening everywhere as we struggle to fairly share the resources of our planet.
The sages say to do what is within your reach. Today I will take that advice and go harvest my fig tree, which I had been leaving to the birds and squirrels. I’ll make my famous figs in cardamom and see if a friend or two can come to share the bounty that through much grace is mine.
The revolution will come and I still plan to witness and act!