Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes" --Maggie Kuhn

Since I can't sleep, I'm going to tell you about last Thursday, when we went to the LA Convention Center with Massimo to his naturalization swearing-in ceremony becoming an American citizen. A record 18,000 people were all sworn in on one day --a record!

We laughed, we cried, we laughed
some more....

That's not why I can't get to sleep, though. It's because I can't erase the images from my mind of what could and would happen to people like me if I wasn't an American.

Most of you (not all) who were born here don't get it
quite the same way that those of us who weren't feel how it means to be an American.

I can't ever erase the images of faces like Jesse Helms or the Rev. Fred Phelps, that do their damndest
to make sure that people like me would end up like this.

It isn't enough just to be an American citizen to be safe, either. Even here, it's possible to lay in bed at night unable to sleep, gripped with the knowledge that there are those who are persecuted, intimidated and
threatened with the consequenses that even Steven King never writes about. After all, he's a straight white male, born in the United States of America.

No matter how much he might try to imagine it, that isn't the same as knowing that it could happen, that it does happen.

Yet, on Harvey Milk's birthday, of all days, there we were, thousands and thousands of us all deeply wrapped up in the moment, assured that this is the home of the free;
our home. Our country.

With the knowledge that we possess the right, the priviledge, the responsibility to ensure that the world is as safe as I can --with everyone else-- make it to be.

Any moment, the first light of day will appear over the Atlantic coast. In Miami, it will already be warm as the sun slices through between the sea and sky, and slowly begins too rise up on its daily trek across the continent.

Right now, in this moment, I can rest assured that I am safe; that others have watched over me as I will in turn do my part to assure the well being of others.

And with that, I can turn off the lamp, and sleep, perchance to dream.

The swearing-in photo is from the Associated Press. The Harvey Milk vigil photo by Daniel Nicoletta. The sunrise is by J. H. Riley.

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