Wednesday, December 1, 2010

why i paint what i paint #10

While I have been having technical difficulties with my computer I have continued to encounter people and ask to hear their stories. It is amazing to me that when we become aware of any particular human condition, suddenly we see it everywhere we look. I have been focused on the specific situation between the U.S. and the countries immediately south of the border (Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador). But on Saturday, the N.Y. Times ran a front page article on the people of Iraq trying to re-enter their country (after fleeing the conditions of the war). The Iraqi people have fled to surrounding nations, and sought new lives as immigrants...but you guessed it...the welcome mat was not out! ( In a compelling way the article told the personal stories of three families, and one was seeking on-going cancer therapy for the mother, because her doctors had all fled.) So the Iraqi people are trying to return home. But the situation is untenable because of the lack of food, work, infrastructure, doctors, teachers, they are sadly realizing that they will have to re-flee. As if to make the point more real to me, I had the following encounter in a Goodwill Store later that same day: I was looking for treasures and bumped into a 'head-scarf wearing' elderly woman. We both excused ourselves and then she commented that the merchandise was "very nice" (in heavily accented English). I decided to ask her where she was from, and it turned out that she had exhausted her supply of English, so she turned to her daughter. She told me that they were from Iraq and that only she, and her mother had come to the U.S. The rest of the family was dispersed all over the Middle East and Europe. They were profoundly sad, and profoundly grateful to just all be alive, safe, and in the midst of such wares (Goodwill...they asked if I had the privilege of working there).

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