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Nov. 19th, 2011

drac emu
There's no substitute for experience. The training takes over, and the relief you feel at knowing what to do is itself a stimulant. Do it enough times, and your body reacts before your brain does.

It starts with the simplest of things. At Basic, my company's three drills made us stand at port arms for long periods of time, in the hot sun of South Carolina, to build up the strength in our arms. It was painful in the beginning. It was still the early Nineties, and while there was lip service, real strength in any form was threatening in women. A woman who knew she could efficiently handle and strip weapons and march punishing distances carrying loads that would cause civilians to collapse was a hard woman---or girl----to rattle.

Most of the lessons we learned weren't spelled out for us.


*****


I don't remember her name. I suppose I could dig out the diaries I kept at the time----what some people now call 'journals', but I'm still poor white trash, and we don't do journals.

I was 27, the second oldest woman in a platoon full of very young girls. We were roused from exhausted sleep at four or five, given enough time to brush our teeth, then directed out to the PT ground, where we discovered after a lifetime of being told that women were weak that indeed we had untold reservoirs of strength to use. I'd never run more than a block or two before, and that was when I was either chasing a shoplifter or trying to catch a bus. Now I ran two miles with increasing ease, added to my pushup count day by day, and endured physical and mental challenges that made those in my civilian life seem beyond trivial. Even today, in pain from back and shoulder injuries that have gone untreated for years, I am very strong in a way that is still casually insulted in women. "Strong like OX," I joked with a best friend, but the real strength was the way the Army taught me to value that strength----for myself. I am strong. I am female. Therefore, my strength is feminine because it is performed by a woman. Society defines femininity the other way, from the outside in, according to its own needs, and strength in women is threatening, because women are to be defined by others, not seize that power for themselves.

I had one particular enemy.

She was eighteen and very pretty, very pale blond, tanned, perky and all the things I was not. I was dead white, scrawny from dancing ballet, with curly hair that frizzed in the South Carolina humidity, neither red nor blonde and thus unsatisfactory. I look.....weird. She looked pretty. I looked like I was going to bite people, and not in a good way.

Did I mention we hated one another?

As Basic went on, the challenges got more and more difficult, till we were marching untold distances in heat and humidity so bad that the drills made us stop every fifteen minutes and drink a whole canteen, then rest for twice that period before they roused us to march again. After more than a decade of dancing, I knew how to deal with blisters on my feet. I smuggled huge amounts of table salt from the chow hall, filled one of the sinks with the hottest water I could stand, dumped the salt in, and then immersed my bloody feet one at a time. Day by day, more and more girls tried the method, where once they would have rejected it out of concerns about pain or unattractive results.

We got to the point of training with rifles, which scared me more than I could say.

As a woman, I had grown up with the bargains society offered or enforced upon women: We will ask less of you, in some ways, than we ask of men. We will also offer you pretense that you matter and lower standards in other ways---while holding you to impossible ones in other matters. And if you dare usurp male roles and male privileges, you will be punished severely and hopelessly. Womens' work in raising children and keeping house was therefore unpaid and given only the sop of respect, with one or two days per year devoted to frivolous rewards like, say, dinner out and a bouquet. Real respect lies in trusting a person's judgement, not taking all decisions from them. Trust is respect.

The Army was different. The Army offered me a decision that left me poised on the edge of a cliff: You will find things in yourself that you never knew existed, yet you will have to surrender the pretenses of society to be a good soldier. You will take charge, make decisions, show iniative, and own it. No equivocating, none of the apologetic tics demanded so often of women: "It's just my opinion/I don't want to interrupt/do you think?/it's just me/is it just me?/what do you think?/in my humble opinion...". In the Army, you did the same job as the guys, and you had to find things in your personality that mirrored the new found physical ability to run for miles, to sweat and find it an accomplishment, to get dirty in the mud and realize it washed off, to come to the painful realization that for some people, such revelations could never be undone or unseen. Once some kinds of dudes had seen you sweat soaked, gasping for breath, and panting for air, they could never again regard you as potential girlfriend material. Scoff all you want, but at the time it was painful. Your only identity was female, and there were rules about that. Basic was where we glimpsed what it was like to be liked and respected not because you could offer sex or docility or appeasement. Basic was where men and women truly treated one another as equals.

Firing range training was a new phase that everyone had to pass, and the drills were tense. They 'smoked' girls at the drop of a hat, which involved both humiliation and exhaustion, as the offending troop was dropped to do pushups in front of the whole platoon for her transgression. Previously, as women, your punishments were more subtle. Here it was sweat and aching muscles and thirty other women looking down on you. One time the whole platoon got dropped when someone laughed at a young private who in turn got smoked for disrespecting....another private. The lesson was clear: we're all in it this together. The cliche that the movies love is the multi-cultural unit that grows to love one another despite their differences. It's not quite that sappy. It's still possible to hate somebody's guts, yet appreciate them and work alongside them if necessary. Smoking itself was gender neutral, and it was never done if a private owned up and admitted fault, or error, or confusion. That message was multi-layered. Yes, you're under stress. Expect it. Understand it. Manage it. Confront it before it gets too big.

Even then, more than a month into Basic, I remained unsure of which path to take---the one that was safe and familiar, or the one that promised things I barely knew existed? My mother, I think, faced that same choice in raising her daughters. What do you do with girls who are smart and high-spirited, in a world and a social class where they will be ruthlessly stomped down? Is it better to break their spirits before their hopes get too high----or let them suffer through disappointment after disappointment? Which hurts more? Not until Basic did I have the confidence to get the idea that rather than be acted on by society, and defined by it, I could act upon society and demand that I have a true chance at defining it.

In the evenings, in the humid Carolina night, we did laundry and wrote letters home. Some of the recruis had a hard time adjusting to new ideas, and sought refuge in old tactics. Army standards---and common sense----called for no makeup and hair done up. Some of the girls tried to wear makeup, as if they were still back in the civilian world, where impossible standards were demanded of women----and no rewards were offered. The Army promised rewards that were literally impossible to grasp. Rule breaking in little ways was how we dealt with our changing world.

In the heat, in the evening, the cicadas drowned out the washing machines across the lower level of the company, and so one evening during range training I came across my blonde rival, her back turned to me. "She's (my name) old, she's fat, she's ugly," she said.

I tapped her on the shoulder. "You're young, you're stupid, and you're out of shape," I said. "One day you will be my age. What will you be like then?"

A few days later she did something wrong in formation, and when the drills dropped her, she sighed, rolled her eyes, exhibited some form of exasperation. The drills clicked their tongues at one another in awe, even while the other soldiers gaped in horror. She'd disrespected them to their faces, in front of the company. She did pushups till she was little better than a limp rag on the ground.

We were still at the range, where simply going to the latrine meant climbing and descending a hill with one's rifle. That rifle had to be kept with you at all times, so that one developed both a feel for it and the habit of being constantly aware. Stepping a yard or more away from one's rifle meant pushups. It added to the sweat factor, even though the weapons seemed to have gotten lighter since the beginning of Basic. Having a buddy to go places meant that you could watch one another's weapon, since theoretically taking it into the porta johns wasn't allowed.

A day or so later, in heat that was so severe it would later be blamed for the death of one drill sergeant and three recruits, I found myself climbing that hill away from the latrine while she descended it to go to the latrine. We became aware of each other's presence at about the same time.

"Oh, God, ginmar, don't give me shit today, I have had a horrible day," she said.

We were both covered with sweat, dirt, and sand. "What do you mean?"

She eyed me, but our isolation from all other eyes seemed to free her. She hadn't slept, she'd shot horribly----which meant endless retries-----and she was worn out, tired, and exhausted. She sagged at the notion, seemingly, of trying to find words for her horrible day. She was not cocky then, just a kid dealing with stuff that grown women were finding complicated.

I have no idea why I asked her the question that I did. "Do you need a hug?"

I don't do hugs. I hate hugs. Keep your paws off me, I'm repressed. I don't do easy emotion, or cheap sentiment, or anything. But she was so honest and so deflated.

She stared at me. I was sort of startled myself. Then she hurtled herself at me, and hugged me fiercely, and it came to me in a ball of emotion, not thought, that she and I were going through many of the same things, the same feelings, the same reactions, but had no vocabulary for them. I still have no idea why I offered. It was out of character then, it's even more so now, except that I cannot bear to see anyone in pain, no matter how they are or what they've done. It seemed only natural to go back to the latrine and hold her weapon for her, though at the range we lost sight of one another.

The sun was setting before I encountered her again. Once more, we were headed in opposite directions. This time, though, she was jubilant, and as soon as she saw me from the hill top, she started yelling at me, trying to run to me with news, trying to carry her rifle and run with no reserves of energy left. "You gave me good luck! I shot expert! You made the difference!" Once again, she flung herself at me and gave me a hug that was as fierce as an attack. My throat locked up. I didn't know her, nor she me. But in a time of great stress, we could be allies. Is that why people get addicted to adrenalin? From then on till graduation, we were fast friends, sharing the same thoughts and emotions, sisters who'd never met before then. We had nothing in common but the hardship of Basic training.

I graduated Basic training from the hospital. At some point I developed a horrible fever, lost my ability to hear or balance, and was discovered when I turned a shade of white that doesn't exist outside of florescence. I was an ex ballet dancer when I joined up, so flexible that my drill called me 'Private Gumby over there', and yet in the last few weeks of Basic my temperature rose high above my weight and the hospital made me take a shower in a chair, because they watched me reel from one side of the hallway to the other and knew I could not stand up without help. It got worse before it got better, and my hearing remained odd for weeks after I got home.

The drills visited, and assured me I would graduate. Going through the whole ordeal again seemed unbearable. When I was released from the hospital, I was directed to walk back to the company, even though my weight was in the low double digits and I was still a bit uncertain as to balance. After the ordeals of Basic, however, I shrugged it off. Difficult, yes---but temporary. So? No big deal, right? And it wasn't.

At Basic, they linked a whole bunch of different people together, who ordinarily would have hated one another, and somehow managed-----through stress, incredible exertion, and exhaustion-----made us value one another for basic human qualities we'd never appreciated before, in ourselves or others. All the things that society had told us gave us our only value were dismissed and rejected, in favor of qualities that all human beings can aspire to possess: discipline, respect, hard work, determination, initiative, and compassion. While we might not be appreciated for these things, we had surely been taught that these things had value whether noted or not. Be more, they told us, and we soaked it up.

The drills would have been deeply elementally insulted at the notion that sexual favors could have been traded for passing scores. This illustrates how, when one fights one kind of bigotry, other kinds of discrimination are weakened as well. Even as some of us women wrestled with the responsibility that came with respect, some men tried to dodge confronting the idea that men were subject to lower standards and yet somehow claimed higher rewards.

I detail this to give a glimpse, a hint, at how completely a mere nine weeks can change one's outlook, and yet how much physical exertion and hard work it takes to achieve the basic disciplines of a soldier. We were subjected to all manner of things, and several people quit, but it was just as hard to succeed as it was to quit. If you needed help, the drills would help you. Just like in ballet, yelling was a sign of recognized potential. "I yell because I care," said one ballet master, without a hint of humor.

The physical stresses were designed, specifically, to test us, and to strengthen us. Because they only had nine weeks, we had to be pushed very hard, all the time. And keep in mind: the drills did the same stuff we did. They might be in better shape, but they did this all the time.

In the intervening years, the lessons continued. It was almost a gift. Conditions that would demoralize other people became merely a matter of degree. A bed of leaves in December? Well, it's better than no leaves at all, isn't it?! And going home to a real bed was like a glimpse into a life of ease and luxury. I'm sitting on a pillow-heaped daybed now and I still marvel at being warm and dry and indoors.

For me, it was thirteen years. Then came Iraq. The showers were a quarter of a mile away. Going to the latrine at night meant taking one's weapon with, in case one encountered one of the packs of dogs that roamed freely. The roads were laden with IEDs. The temperature reached 140 in the shade in the summer. The shifts were long, and one had to stand in line for many things, or walk miles for others. I'd never before experienced the sensation of sweat forming not just whole entire beads of water, but running in streams down my body. You'll notice I left out any discussion of emotional issues there. And so on. And so forth. One was resigned to the deprivation. Such is Army life.

And it is all this I think when I look at the Occupy kids, the ones who are now braving cold and rain and brutality and injury to let their government know that we cannot continue being led as we are. We cannot continue to live as we have been living.

Except these kids have no training. They have no orders, no dates, no knowledge of when it will end. Just not knowing when and if it will end at all can be demoralizing. They do not have gas masks, as we did. Even if they had them, they have not been trained for hour and hours in their use. They do not have fierce and kind Drills watching over them, carefully making sure they get enough sleep, enough food, enough reinforcement.

What they have are ideas. They seem to be proceeding on the desires of people everywhere, the instinct of those who have experienced injustice, and who desire that no one else should suffer as they have. Telling them to get jobs ignores the point that that's exactly what they do want.

They have left their homes, or lost them. If the most meagre chance of work presented itself, they would take it, gladly. For millions of people who leap at any and every job out there, there are six more applicants vying for the same job.

They have been beaten and attacked, gassed and injured.

Ultimately, if they get their way, we will all have a better life because of it.

They have no weapons, made no threats, and yet are attacked repeatedly by the police with various degrees of force.

They have----at least in the beginning---had no idea the injuries they would face. And yet, now that they do know they will be injured, arrested, and jailed, they do not surrender. They don't have body armor or protection of any sort. Every day they get up and they know they could get injured that day. They do it anyway.

By any measure of war, they cannot win, in terms of sheer force. Yet they continue to fight. One battle ends, another begins over here.

It is one thing to face war with the advantage of years of training, weapons, approval, rules, regulations, and force of habit. One reacts nearly automatically.

It is quite another to face a war with only the clothes on one's back.

By now, they know what they face, and yet they continue anyway. That is bravery, to do something doomed to failure, so that others might take up the banner and build on battles already fought.

In the Army, there are words for bravery when a sensible person would have surrendered. The superior numbers should have won----yet sometimes they did not. We call this valor or gallantry, or above and beyond. These are the words we say to men and women who have trained and planned for the day of battle.

We need new words. We need more words.

These kids, these people----these are the bravest of the brave. Unarmed, they face the armed. Unmasked, they face chemicals. Disrespected, they demand basic human dignity. No one has trained them. No one leads them, except in the sense that so many people are suffering from the same ills. They rose up and came together in a battalion of citizens using their Constitutional rights.

It doesn't matter, sometimes, whether you win or lose a particular battle. Sometimes you fight so that the next group coming after you can win the war.

I fought in George Bush's war. These kids, these occupiers----? They are fighting for America, for the idea of America, that has inspired so many others around the world.

With training and weapons, one can fight wars, it's true.

Only with people like this can one win wars.

It's almost easy, frankly, with weapons and body armor, and training, to fight back an enemy.

But doing so naked, in bad weather, in tents, without training and weapons, when one is opposed by armed men with gas and armor?

When you fight bigotry and oppression and hatred bit by bit day by day, you're joining in the same struggle. A battle may last a day. The battle against bigotry goes every day, bit by bit, water on rock, every combatant a tiny humble drop of water.

They give you fancy medals for battle. What do you give for raw courage in the face of an endless struggle, with powerful institutions as one's enemies?

There is courage and there is courage. Both are composed of fear and confrontation. Nobody is without fear, but some are trained to deal with it.

Find me words, then, to sum up people who march, unarmed against the multitudes with weapons, in the hope of justice.

Soldiers such as myself, who fought in a war of lies, get praised by civilians, yet the protesters of Occupy get slammed for fighting tyranny at home. It's always easy to look at differences and call them bad. It's entirely a different thing to be the one who stands up at home and threaten the comfort level of the people one live alongside of.

There are all sorts of battles. There are all kinds of gallantry. Make sure you stop and appreciate the examples of these things, being played out under your very noses. And hope that you never need as much courage as these kids have shown.

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Comments

( 75 comments — Leave a comment )
greeneyedkzin
Nov. 20th, 2011 06:14 pm (UTC)
Those were the words I didn't have.

Thank you.

jess_faraday
Nov. 20th, 2011 07:19 pm (UTC)
Wow. Thank you.
tychecat
Nov. 20th, 2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
This blog was a really good one - it took me back to my basic at Ft.Jackson (I assume that's where you were) in 1951. I don't suppose much changed between our times there except maybe my helmet and rifle were a little heavier and my basic was 16 weeks.
Your point about the Occupiers is very well expressed and much too seldom heard - I hope you keep spreading it around.
ginmar
Nov. 24th, 2011 11:31 am (UTC)
Yep, Jackson. Holy cow, a place more humid than Minnesota.
carrieironhorse
Nov. 21st, 2011 02:19 am (UTC)
This is an inspiring post. Thank you.
mackiemesser
Nov. 21st, 2011 02:45 am (UTC)
This was really excellent writing. Thanks for sharing it.
ivyfree
Nov. 21st, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
::::stands::::

::::applauds::::
rantinan
Nov. 21st, 2011 05:14 am (UTC)
Thanks. Going to re-read this article when my foot is giving me hell.
You're not entirely correct however.
Many of us go in, knowing what going to happen. when a bunch of unarmed, brave pacifists go head to head with armed and armored bullies, there is only one real outcome. You get smashed. Broken. Maced. batoned. Ridden over by horses. Driven over by cars. Crippled for life. The popo can get away with anything short of murder, and many members take great delight in it. But speaking for me, I dusted myself off, and went back to the lines.
I find it not even slightly surprising that violence is so often used to enforce the rights of the wealthy (mostly white, mostly male) elite. As always, the violence has been started by police. As always, it has been started by police blindly following orders by taking the most extreme steps possible as their first resort, because those orders allow them to do what they want. Becasue they can get away with it, and the wealthy will just smile at the uppity peasants getting smashed.

And still. Despite the mockery. the injuries, and despite the false charges we protest injustice.

I laughed my ass off when the judge threw out my case. Apparently its not against the law to "damage a policeman's uniform" if the "damage" is bleeding on the shiny blue after you were battoned.

I can find you words for "Find me words, then, to sum up people who march, unarmed against the multitudes with weapons, in the hope of justice. "

We're either special, or just really stupid from too many baton blows to the head.

We're cripples, and able bodied people, and old, and young. We come from all walks of life. We're communists, and anarchists, and monarchists, and democrats, and liberals (in the Australian and in the the general term of the word) But never libertarians. Because we have an awareness of the fact that there is more than the self and the desires of the self.
We're the people who figured out we were in the black iron prison http://www.principiadiscordia.com/bip/1.php (fair warning. Reading that link might break your heart) We're people of religion, and people of no religion.

We're everyone. You can meet us anywhere, and you might find us if you look in the mirror.

I guess that got kinda long.


ginmar
Nov. 24th, 2011 11:35 am (UTC)
People talk about battle, but they ignore the people who sat at lunch counters and faced death for it, or people who marched, and.....Yeah, they nearly died. Were killed. Look at John Lewis.

I remember the chilling fear that literally lowered my body's temperature when I realized we were going into an ambush. I'd been through one before, you see, and I understood what it meant. I'd had general training, only. I've never felt that feeling since then. I've never had to subject myself to that sensation on American soil.

I'm old, and cynical, and all that. But I still know guts when I see it, and it's pure and untrained.
(no subject) - rantinan - Nov. 24th, 2011 08:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
charlesks
Nov. 21st, 2011 06:14 am (UTC)
Please repost this on DKos
So I can tip-n-rec the diary. This is awesomely awesome writing, and something I think should be shared over there.
ginmar
Nov. 21st, 2011 06:17 am (UTC)
Re: Please repost this on DKos
This is the slightly-edited-to-clean-it-up version. It's there.
Re: Please repost this on DKos - charlesks - Nov. 21st, 2011 06:27 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Please repost this on DKos - ginmar - Nov. 21st, 2011 06:34 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Please repost this on DKos - charlesks - Nov. 21st, 2011 06:40 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Please repost this on DKos - ginmar - Nov. 21st, 2011 06:42 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Please repost this on DKos - (Anonymous) - Nov. 22nd, 2011 06:25 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Please repost this on DKos - ginmar - Nov. 24th, 2011 11:35 am (UTC) - Expand
akycha
Nov. 21st, 2011 05:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for writing and posting this.
siege
Nov. 21st, 2011 07:45 pm (UTC)
By any measure of war, they cannot win, in terms of sheer force. Yet they continue to fight. One battle ends, another begins over here.

It is one thing to face war with the advantage of years of training, weapons, approval, rules, regulations, and force of habit. One reacts nearly automatically.

It is quite another to face a war with only the clothes on one's back.

By now, they know what they face, and yet they continue anyway. That is bravery, to do something doomed to failure, so that others might take up the banner and build on battles already fought.

In the Army, there are words for bravery when a sensible person would have surrendered. The superior numbers should have won----yet sometimes they did not. We call this valor or gallantry, or above and beyond. These are the words we say to men and women who have trained and planned for the day of battle.

We need new words. We need more words.

These kids, these people----these are the bravest of the brave. Unarmed, they face the armed. Unmasked, they face chemicals. Disrespected, they demand basic human dignity. No one has trained them. No one leads them, except in the sense that so many people are suffering from the same ills. They rose up and came together in a battalion of citizens using their Constitutional rights.


May I metaquote this? Because this whole post is the kind of speech I'd want someone to give me at the end of Basic.

Also, this line in particular:
Real respect lies in trusting a person's judgement, not taking all decisions from them. Trust is respect.

I want to use this as a personal motto.
ginmar
Nov. 21st, 2011 09:34 pm (UTC)
Sure. Go ahead.
(no subject) - siege - Nov. 22nd, 2011 12:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ginmar - Nov. 22nd, 2011 12:33 am (UTC) - Expand
elionwyr
Nov. 21st, 2011 10:03 pm (UTC)
Oh my- this is spot on. Thank you for writing it.
ms_daisy_cutter
Nov. 21st, 2011 11:34 pm (UTC)
This is a fistful of revelations. I've linked to it. Thank you for writing it.
cissa
Nov. 21st, 2011 11:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this.
myrrhmade
Nov. 21st, 2011 11:39 pm (UTC)
Here via Ms Daisy, hope that's ok. Anyway, coming from a military family thank you for this. No words.
ginmar
Nov. 21st, 2011 11:50 pm (UTC)
No problem. I get really irritated with portrayals of the military because it's all tropes, either good or bad, and I've come to believe that "Thank you for your service" (usually said by somebody who's just insulted your intelligence) is the new "Bless your heart." If people started considering all the stuff between the poles of good and bad, it would make what we do all the more complicated, and then people who've never considered the services would have to think about why they send us off to war.

Sometimes the Army faces some battles only civilians can fight. There aren't a lot of civilians doing that.
(no subject) - compost75 - Nov. 22nd, 2011 02:18 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ginmar - Nov. 22nd, 2011 02:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - compost75 - Nov. 22nd, 2011 03:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ginmar - Nov. 22nd, 2011 03:20 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sheherazahde - Nov. 22nd, 2011 04:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ginmar - Nov. 22nd, 2011 04:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sheherazahde - Nov. 22nd, 2011 05:08 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ginmar - Nov. 22nd, 2011 05:10 am (UTC) - Expand
luciab
Nov. 22nd, 2011 01:30 am (UTC)
May I link to this on FB? This is wonderful.
ginmar
Nov. 22nd, 2011 01:51 am (UTC)
Sure, go ahead.
happiestsadist
Nov. 22nd, 2011 01:51 am (UTC)
Wow.

I want to applaud.
ginmar
Nov. 22nd, 2011 01:52 am (UTC)
If I got regular sleep, I could do this sort of thing all the time.
(no subject) - happiestsadist - Nov. 22nd, 2011 01:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ginmar - Nov. 22nd, 2011 02:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - happiestsadist - Nov. 22nd, 2011 02:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ginmar - Nov. 22nd, 2011 02:18 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - happiestsadist - Nov. 22nd, 2011 02:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ginmar - Nov. 22nd, 2011 02:33 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - ginmar - Nov. 22nd, 2011 02:54 am (UTC) - Expand
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keori
Nov. 22nd, 2011 03:02 am (UTC)
All true. Every word.

Basic was like that. It wasn't as crazy for me as for other women, because I'd grown up in an abusive fundamentalist mormon household, and I knew how to listen to that bullshit and just keep on going past what I thought I could endure. It was hard, but I knew it had a beginning, and an ending, and I knew that, as bad as it might have felt at times, they couldn't truly harm me.

Not so with our movement. The people at Occupy never stop amazing me. We march, we protest, we sing, we sit down in illegally foreclosed-upon homes and stop wrongful evictions of the poor. We bring coalitions of labor and liberal faith leaders together, and resist tooth and claw the efforts of Democratic corporate whores to co-opt our message of equality and our power. We are mocked, insulted, spit on, shunned, beaten, maced, gassed, bloodied, arrested and detained, hospitalized, frozen, burned, and broken. And yet we return, again and again, to testify and bear witness to the idea that there is a better way, we just have to give it a chance. We are armed with nothing more than our truth, with the words on our lips and the songs in our hearts, and our beaten and broken bodies broadcast on YouTube for the world to see, if it cares to click the link.

We cannot fail. It will take years, and many faces and phases, but this movement is never going away, never giving up, never falling silent. Ideas are bulletproof.

While we're on the subject, after 17 months of solitary confinement and no charges, Bradley Manning will have a hearing on December 17th.
ginmar
Nov. 22nd, 2011 03:05 am (UTC)
Seventeen months and no charges. Wonderful. Land of the free.

I see they busted a dude in New York City. When are we going to find out about the informant who supplied the material and plans in return for a reduced sentence on his charges?

Meanwhile, stories like James Cunningham's get buried.
sneezythesquid
Nov. 22nd, 2011 04:15 am (UTC)
I can so very much understand where you're coming from.

I made it half-way through Navy boot before my back condition was discovered and I was sent home on a medical. I had literally made it through all our tough physical training. It wasn't nearly as much of an ordeal as yours, Navy being a lot less physical, but I can empathize with what you endured. It's something people really won't understand unless they've been there.

That said, what you've written here is simply amazing. Thank you for writing it, and sharing. Excellent points, expertly made. Thank you.
stina_leicht
Nov. 22nd, 2011 04:31 am (UTC)
LIKE.
denelian
Nov. 22nd, 2011 08:07 am (UTC)
yes. these words MATTER, these actions MATTER.

[my one true regret is that this came to late for me to participate physically. i can't even SIT for an HOUR. but i can watch and send my thoughts to those who AREN'T fighting, they're STANDING. and while the standing is fighting, in a sense, it's also peaceful on the part of the standers. and gods, i wish i could stand - or even sit - with them physically.]
lucretiasheart
Nov. 22nd, 2011 02:51 pm (UTC)
Excellent. Just excellent writing here, even aside from how much I agree with you. Thank you! And YES. It does take bravery to do what the Occupiers are doing, with millions of dollars already being paid to PR firms and lobbyists to do everything possible to erase the effects of a bunch of people protesting the status quo.
drammar
Nov. 22nd, 2011 03:21 pm (UTC)
Here via MQ. Exceptional writing, and a point well made. I was part of citizen uprisings that helped change things in the 60's and 70's and am gratified by the steadfastness of those participating in the Occupy movements.

Am adding you too my flist -- your thoughts and writing are clear, cogent, and right on target.

Thank you.
flyingichthyo
Nov. 22nd, 2011 08:08 pm (UTC)
You are amazing.
Rich Pea
Nov. 23rd, 2011 01:42 am (UTC)
kudos to you...
ifeedformula
Nov. 23rd, 2011 05:21 am (UTC)
You will find things in yourself that you never knew existed, yet you will have to surrender the pretenses of society to be a good soldier. You will take charge, make decisions, show iniative, and own it.

This..except change "soldier" to "mother". I have a special needs child (he has speech issues, motor skills issues, ADHD and we're going to have him tested for Asperger's within the six months or so since his dr refuses to do testing until a child is at least 8 years old, but we're pretty sure at this point he's an Aspie. The handflapping kinda gives it away, yanno?) and it truly is the hardest job I will ever love.
ginmar
Nov. 23rd, 2011 06:00 am (UTC)
With all due respect, mothers don't face gunfire, bullets, bombs, IEDS, death and torture if captured, along with enduring training so they can survive while trying not to get captured. The condition of motherhood on its down involves many difficulties, but none of these are within the scope of this piece.

Edited at 2011-11-23 06:01 am (UTC)
(no subject) - ifeedformula - Nov. 23rd, 2011 03:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ginmar - Nov. 23rd, 2011 07:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ms_daisy_cutter - Nov. 23rd, 2011 07:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - happiestsadist - Nov. 23rd, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ifeedformula - Nov. 23rd, 2011 07:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - happiestsadist - Nov. 23rd, 2011 08:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ginmar - Nov. 23rd, 2011 08:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mero - Nov. 23rd, 2011 07:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - happiestsadist - Nov. 23rd, 2011 08:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ginasketch - Nov. 23rd, 2011 08:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ms_daisy_cutter - Nov. 23rd, 2011 08:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
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( 75 comments — Leave a comment )

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