Hello, It's Me Again
March 13, 2002
By Patricia Heartland
Hello, it's me again. Did you enjoy the Winter Olympics?
I didn't see much of it, as our television networks spend
more time airing advertisements and "human interest" stories
about various (mostly American) athletes than showing the
events. It gets kind of old so I don't watch as much of it
as I'd really like. How about those Skeleton sledders, though,
huh? How crazy would you have to be to do that? Anyway,
congratulations to all of you and your athletes, I thought
everyone (except a couple of judges) made a really fine effort.
And I appreciate your coming all the way to Utah, I hope they
made you comfortable.
Remember I told you last time about my brother losing his
job at Ford? Well, he's got two new jobs now. He's selling
ads for a local "shopper" newspaper - he can do that by phone,
so it's handy and he can adjust his schedule for the other
job working part-time with a landscape contractor. They mostly
do maintenance work for commercial landlords. He's too old
to be heaving around sixty-pound bags of mulch, and I worry
that he's going to throw his back out again, but at least
they're making their mortgage payments for now.
I know you all have really mixed feelings about how we Americans
dominate the world entertainment market with overproduced
big-budget films, and a lot of times I agree with you that
it's hard to imagine getting so little worthwhile result for
so much money spent. But I have to admit that sometimes Hollywood
does the right thing - as in, giving all that money to Peter
Jackson to make "Lord of the Rings" in New Zealand. Great
movie, see it if you can. I was a little skeptical about all
the elfey stuff, but it works.
I was really amazed to see how beautiful New Zealand
is. I mean, I knew it was gorgeous, we hear about it from
time to time and see pictures in National Geographic,
but it's not the same. Wow. Thanks for taking care of it,
Kiwis. I'd like to visit someday. You guys impressed me back
in the eighties with your gutsy stand on nuclear disarmament,
and I'm still impressed. I went and looked up more about you
on the Internet (you've got some great websites!) I have to
say I wish my government could learn a little from you, especially
about preserving indigenous peoples' rights and participation
Speaking of indigenous peoples, one of my friends told me
of a very wise saying her grandmother used to tell her: "Don't
go looking in other peoples' kitchen windows when you've got
dirty dishes in your own sink." I think there's a lot in that,
don't you? We Americans are awfully anxious to criticize how
some of you treat ethnic and political minorities, while our
own record on dealing with the indigenous nations is pretty
pathetic. I don't know that there's that much to choose between
how many Ojibwe or Navajo or Inupiat live, for instance, and
how various minorities in some of your countries are treated.
A lot of us are trying, though. One problem we have is how
little attention our media pay to the people suffering from
poverty and injustice right here at home. If you want that
kind of news, you have to go look for it, it won't be zapped
into your living room by Fox or CNN. On the other hand, the
sad-looking processions on their way from one refugee camp
to another in some far-away place show up every time our government
wants us to get all riled about one of you.
I shouldn't say that, really. It's not completely fair. There
are some journalists and news organizations who really do
cover those stories because they care about injustice and
suffering. A lot of us do, you know. In fact, I'd have to
say that most of us care about it. Please don't blame us too
much for what looks like irrational, judgemental criticism.
Feel free to criticize right back. Maybe if our government
starts getting a lot of flak from you about the injustices
and suffering of many of our own people, they'll start doing
something about it. Lord knows, they don't listen to me.
That doesn't mean you're off the hook, though. What's up
with Abdullah Ocalan, Turkey? Don't you know that you're giving
the War on Terror a bad name, with your "State Security Courts"
and your "Anti-Terror Law" so loosely defined that someone
can be arrested and detained incommunicado for looking sideways
at the wrong time? Cut it out! I don't want you giving Mr.
Bush and his happy henchmen any more ideas, okay? You'll make
much faster progress in carving out an influential niche in
the world community if you start walking more of the walk.
It's not that I don't appreciate your friendship, I do. And
you've done a lot to show that it's possible to be Muslim
and yet not have a government run by fundamentalist nutjobs
or dictators-for-life of one sort or other. That's pretty
important. I know you're making progress, and I know sometimes
our expectations are a little unrealistic. But a little more
action on human rights for the Kurds would make me way
more comfortable about our relationship. Take it under advisement,
Okay, I'm off. We've got company (in-laws) coming for dinner
tonight, so I suppose I better go look up some vegan recipes,
and then go to the store. My sister-in-law won't eat anything
that's not certified organic, non-irradiated, non-genetically-altered,
non-hormonally-enhanced. It makes shopping a little difficult,
but that's another letter. Take care of yourself and don't
forget to stay in touch!