Sunday, June 04, 2006

This is what solidarity looks like

If ever they did, they need no longer doubt whom they are or where they stand. The members of Education sans Frontières -- and many others -- have made their choice.

Spring has come and gone. A long and anxious summer is beginning.

On May 19th 2006 (though I suspect most had made their promises earlier) they vowed to hide and shelter school-children and college students whom French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy had ordered to be rounded up and summarily deported in late June 2006. The basis of the planned deportations is the irregular status of the children's parents.

So now and through the coming weeks, all over France, families under threat of deportation will be meeting -- often for the first time -- with those who are going to shelter their children from the police and from the State. Plans are being laid. Spare rooms are being recurtained, attics and basements are being prepared. Indeed some are already in hiding.

Without doubt -- just as those who prepare to send their children into hiding with strangers must wonder 'Can I trust you?' -- those preparing shelter will find themselves considering their circumstances anew. "Whom among my friends and neighbours do I trust to not flap their mouth?" they must ask themselves. "Whom among my own child's friends knows how to keep silent?"

As they plan for contingencies (plans some will doubtless need as the imperative to recruit and organise volunteers necessitated public offers of shelter in some cases), they will be wondering about these questions in ways, perhaps, that they have not before. For it is one thing to trust one's neighbour with the house keys, to be confident that they will water the potplants and feed the cat while one is on vacation -- it is one thing even to trust them with one's own life. But it is something else to entrust another's. Some deep friendships will be forged this summer: inevitably, others will be broken.

So where do they stand then, these attic tidiers, these curtain purchasers, these basement redecorators?

With those who place water in dry places.
With Miep Gies.
With those who claim that these behaviours -- far from being heroic -- are merely the normal, civilised thing to do in the face of incivility.

As one put it, 'It is quite simple. They live in my road. Their kids go to the same school as my son. It's normal. It's the only thing to do.'"

9 Comments:

Blogger DuctapeFatwa said...

This is another one that I hope you will cross-post to everywhere possible.

These people deserve all the support, all the prayers, all the help they can get from everywhere they can get it.

It would be my hope that even some Americans might take from the envelope they were going to send to their preferred politician, and send it instead to help this work.

It would be a good exercise for them as they ask themselves whether they will be making calls to notify gunmen of the presence of an undesirable, or whether they will be preparing their own basement, to make it as comfortable as possible for their brothers and sisters who will need it, or whether they will merely wait quietly for their own child's name to be called...

6/05/2006 2:13 pm  
Blogger thepoetryman said...

She eyes the richness of faces longing for home.
Rucksacks and rifles tossed over slumped shoulder,
Traces of flags and banners and wood; fruitless.
This flight out will be the last toward survival.
She will not be going,
She still looks for her children,
She is citizen of the killing zone.
Her husband’s fate went uncounted
From the outset of steel-humanity’s broil.
Saddam broken, alive,
Murderer waits,
Tamed in a ruler's land
By would-be king of another.

She smiles upon them as they exit
Breathing sighs of relief danced in mourning.
What will become of the roses and the waters?
The ancient ruins, the culture shattered?
Might it request another day of its soul?
Will this become death’s chart and dark-boiled lure?
(A few of sands ruddy cheeked questions
Birdsong aloft of the broken firmament.)
She smiles and waves goodbye
To friend and foe, liberator and murderer,
Husband and wife, brother and sister,
Uncle and aunt, love and hate.

A distinct, sudden, and brief click
Sensed under the engine's breath
Over a moment of moistness
And the blinding flash.

6/06/2006 8:24 pm  
Blogger thepoetryman said...

Oops... I am sorry... I did not mean to post such an off topic poem... I had copied the wrong poem and pasted and published before I realized it. Again my apologies.

6/06/2006 8:27 pm  
Blogger dove said...

It's a thought-provoking poem thepoetryman -- you have no need to apologise.

6/06/2006 8:54 pm  
Blogger thepoetryman said...

Dove,
You are most kind. Thank you. I have added you to my Echoing Voices for such kindness...And who says it doesn't pay to be nice? :>)

6/07/2006 4:18 am  
Blogger DuctapeFatwa said...

It did not seem off topic to me. I thought you posted it especially for dove's piece, and in my opinion, it makes a wonderful accessory to it!

6/08/2006 5:10 am  
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