Fired Up! (Or trying to be…)

by Stephanie Casher on April 26, 2006

In the past two weeks I’ve attended two academic events — the 4th annual Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal Symposium “Reviving the Dream: Confronting Racism in the 21st Century” (my brother Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal :-), and an event at UCSC co-sponsored by my Department, “The War on Terror: A Credible Threat. Every time I go to one of these things, I always get all fired up the way I used to in college, you know, outraged by the injustice, convinced that something needs to be done, calling for revolution… There is so much to be upset about folks… But then I get home and after a few hours, I crash and am just Depressed. Cause you gotta admit, the state of our world, and the direction we’re heading, is downright depressing.

The Hastings Symposium featured several panels and multiple keynotes. I attended the panels “The Racial Implications of the Katrina Disaster” and “Race, Religion, and the Law Post-9/11.” Much like the conference we hosted, the Katrina panel spent a lot of time talking about what’s not being done in this devastated region, and the inability of our government to rebuild and repair its own communities, while it sinks billions of dollars into a war halfway across the world. It’s pitiful. I really don’t know how our leaders can sleep at night.

At the “War on Terror” event, a day-long teach-in, the day was jam-packed with interesting and high profile speakers. The keynote was given by former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, the first person to break the story that there were indeed, NO weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. This is a man who used to be a high-ranking government official, the husband of a former covert CIA agent. A man who the government has systematically tried to destroy and discredit because he had the nerve to speak the TRUTH to the PUBLIC. Google him. It is a travesty what the Bush administration has tried to do to this man.

He spoke quite frankly about the lie he uncovered — that there were no nuclear weapons in Iraq, the Bush administration knew it, and intentionally misled the American people and Congress so they could go to war. War is supposed to be a last resort, when all other avenues have been exhausted. 2400 American soldiers have died in Iraq, many of them boys who had not yet hit the prime of their lives, and for what? As one who has loved a man while he was stationed in Iraq, and helped (and is still helping) him transition through re-entry, I’ve seen firsthand what war does to people at the most basic, soul level. It burns me up inside that innocent people are dying to further someone’s political agenda…

Congressman Sam Farr also spoke at the teach-in, and informed the audience that the amount of money we are spending annually in Iraq is roughly equivalent to the yearly budget of the entire state of California! A state that is home to roughly 36 billion people when there are only 26 billion people in Iraq. There is something very very wrong here and it has to stop.

Sam Farr also touched on another point, something I struggle with myself — complacency, apathy, and the need for the masses to educate themselves and mobilize politically. Hopelessness, when it manifests as depression, is paralyzing. Do we have a Malcolm X or Martin Luther King Jr. in our generation to inspire and ignite the masses? Did the revolutionary spirit and quest for peace and love die with the 60’s? Or are we all so immersed in our individual cyberworlds that we’re numb to the horrors that are quickly becoming our reality? What happened to compassion and community? Aargh, it’s so symptomatic of the world we live in — so many questions and not enough answers…

I want to fight the good fight, I really do, but I just keep seeing evil win over and over and over again. I don’t know if I should be depressed or very very afraid. *Sigh* I really need to go watch RENT again – I swear to God some days that’s the only thing that makes it better…

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