Friday, September 16, 2005
When Extraordinary People Meet Less Than Extraordinary Circumstances
In their own slightly clumsy way American's have learned to romanticize things that are unpleasant. American's were late bloomers from the start. Our Romantic Period blossomed almost a quarter of a century after the English Romantic Period. American's typically don't have time to philosophize. They prefer to act instead. The Romantic Period, I'll grant you, doesn't have anything to do with "being romantic", but the Period demanded reflection, complexity, and individualism. And although the "American Way" doesn't necessarily support these theories, they have embraced it in their own way.
I can't remember a time that I did not think fondly of the military. I often day-dreamed about being in the military, marrying someone in the military, losing someone who was in the military when I was a little girl. Why? Because in their quest for justice, liberty, hope, and peace, they stumbled across the individuals that refused to give that up. In probing into the lives of these individuals they were raised as heroes to us. And a mass of hundreds of thousands of heroes marching off breaking the bonds of injustice and bringing liberty to imprisoned people is as romantic as we Americans can imagine.
I was thinking the exact same thing as I was sitting in Red Cross training last night. It was a dark, cloudy, and coolish fall day in Lansing, Michigan (one of the most hapless places on the map). Approximately 100 people were crammed into a room that could comfortably sit 40. There were chairs in the isles, along the back and sides, and in the doorway. A true blue fire hazard. But no one minded. People from every walk of life were represented in that room. Young people, old people, healthy people, sick people, black people, white people, Hispanic people, rich people, poor people, professional people, uneducated people, mixed people, broken people, people, people, people. As I looked around me, they were just people. All people who have been touched. All people who are grieved. All people.
And as I sat in Red Cross training, listening to the countless stories of people surviving the hurricane down south, and the programs that Lansing is creating to respond to this disaster, I thought of how the Red Cross has been romanticized. Nothing at the Red Cross is glamorous. In fact, it's bare-bones facility, run mostly by volunteers who try to maintain full time jobs. It's not like you see on movies where a Red Cross working is picking up the head of a dying victim to bring their parched lips to a cool glass of water. It isn't red lipstick and white uniforms with little red crosses on the chest. It's hard, demanding, constant work. Just like the "American Spirit" it's hard work, it's unpleasant, it's not getting a break. But in that work, Americans have found something to cling to. Something to ponder, to dream of, to desire.
What am I trying to say, in a non-literary way? I'm saying that in their work and in their drive, Americans they share the same passions, the same hopes as other people. We work hard to protect the people we love. We work hard to protect the country we love. And we work harder to protect the freedom we love. So, live romantically. Live romantically, the American Way.
PS. This is my 100th post! Ya!