Alice says to open your eyes. “Open your eyes! History is happening now!”
I am an utter romantic; my furniture is old, my books were printed roughly a hundred years ago and it’s lucky that I can manage the simplest programs on this Mac. I can spout off historical dates and names of people & events that happened before my lifetime began. I know the history of underwear & plumbing. I know the evolution of man (and woman) as he stretched across this globe. I know that in Shakespearean time, badly performing actors received a skimmington (the punishment of being beaten with a spoon). But what of now? I know so very little.
So Alice tells me to open my eyes. She forces me (Oh! Ever so kindly) to expand my brain. “Here,” she says, “Is an amazing speech about the Lakota Indians and their standoff with the American government.” Had you any idea that Mount Rushmore has been carved on their mountain? She speaks of global politics and environmental conundrums as if she lives by them. She gives me my knowledge on a golden platter. “Here,” she says, “this is something that you should know.”
A few days ago, Alice brought over In the Land of Blood and Honey and her expansive understanding of what was happening in Bosnia in the early 1990’s. Interment camps. Genocide. A massive effort to rape the Muslim out. How did this happen during my lifetime (your lifetime!)? Not once, was this subject discussed in all my years of schooling. How can we pretend, as we live our beautiful, colorful lives (and I am certainly not saying that we shouldn’t live with color & beauty) that this wasn’t happening—that things like this still are not happening? It can be crippling—the knowledge, the pain, the desire to stop it—to help—but it is this compassion that makes us better humans.
It may be easier to live in the past; where the ghosts have already been put to rest but it isn’t right.
Alice says to open your eyes—to see the world not just from yesterday but from today as well.
Okay Alice, okay. My eyes have been opened.