Posts Tagged ‘peril’

9066 Today

21 February 2010

Dear J-

I am a couple of days late this year — sixty-eight years and two days since FDR signed Executive Order 9066 into being — and it’s more relevant than ever. Lessons of the past mean that we can avoid mistakes of the future, ranging from the small (subheadline from this morning’s Union-Tribune: “Asian emersion: Kim Yu-na of South Korea leads a crop of skaters trying to keep the U.S. without a medal”) to the large (the current flap over the UCSD fraternity party with a “Compton Cookout” theme).

The actual article about the rise of Asian figure skaters was pretty good, actually (there are cultural and physical reasons, even if those were based on dated assumptions), but (1) I’m not even sure that “emersion” is a word and (2) if any country is kept off the medal podium, the fault can be traced directly to that country and not some other country’s nefarious machinations. Blaming other folks for things within your control seems to be the lesson passed down lately; if you can’t pass the buck, then you’ve failed your mission. It’s the little things that lead to bigger misunderstandings, though; you start with a small assumption that acts as a key to unlock a whole world of ugly.

And speaking of ugly, folks are quick to flock behind the UCSD students as youthful hijinks and to wrap themselves up in the First Amendment: yes, you are as free to be as offensive as you want, and I’ll defend your right to do so. Yet you can’t have both: the silence of the fraternity and television programs are telling — you’re willing to claim the right of satire, yet unwilling or unable to claim the responsibility for your words. Part of maturity is learning consequence; if we understood what we might set into motion sixty-eight years ago, perhaps we wouldn’t be rushing into satire so quickly.



Drastic Steps

6 October 2008

Dear J-

We take drastic steps when we believe that we’re in peril — the fight or flight reaction.  The rumors you hear never seem to sound quite so urgent until they start talking about those things close to you — family, work, life.  You hear and you don’t want to believe, you don’t want to get involved, but most of the time it’s already too late, isn’t it?  The anecdote that keeps running through my head is that you never hear the bullet that hits you:  as they’re traveling faster than sound, you’re shot before you hear the shot.

We spend time worrying about things we can’t change, though, instead of doing what we can, where we can.  I remind you that all the extra time, all the extra hours spent in the paralysis of indecision could be spent chipping away.  Journey of a thousand miles, single step, you know.  A life lived a minute at a time, hour by hour, not looking too far forward, nor casting a backwards glance; is that really ideal, either?  Aren’t goals a form of looking at all the work you have in front of you?

Miles pass underfoot; time slips by and leaves us breathless in its wake.  Whether or not we choose to change, whether or not we continue to learn, the rules morph into something new.  Good enough changes day by day.  When do skills start to elude you?  What rungs on the ladder remain forever blocked?  Where do you decide your comfort zone goes this far and no further?

Can we continue, this world divided, this nation double-yoked end-to-end instead of side-by-side?  I’ve said before that the main reason I went East for school had to do with learning out of my depth, but it reinforced what we all have in common.  An essential humanity, a universal America, a belief and a hope that this can’t be the end, this isn’t the final, we can pull it around and succeed.  Are we realistic?