Carol A. Hand
The day before Thanksgiving, I watched a movie that left me bereft of hope and shattered my belief that change is possible. The documentary, Silenced, describes the devastating experiences of three whistle-blowers – Thomas Drake (NSA), Jesselyn Radack (DOJ), and John Kiriakou (CIA). Their attempts to raise public awareness about post-9/11 policy shifts made them targets of unrelenting government attacks.
It’s always hard for me to accept the fact that some people deliberately choose to destroy others. But this movie reminded me that it does happen. It’s happened to me on much smaller scales. For periods of time the likelihood of reprisal did silence my voice temporarily. After watching this movie, I honestly wondered if anything I write or do makes any difference at all.
I awoke on Thanksgiving morning still feeling that hope was futile. And then, a funny thing happened. Well, not really funny at the time. I’m still living with the consequences. My computer wouldn’t turn on without a security password. The problem was that I had shut off my computer after loading Windows 10 before visiting the old email address I had used as a contact. The locked screen made it clear. There was no way I would be able to unlock the computer without the password they emailed to that address after my computer was off.
Photo: My old “sacred” writing space
Luckily, I had finished and verified the 50K words for NaNoWriMo earlier that day, and all my book chapters were backed-up on a flashdrive. But I had no access to email or the internet. My PC was my only connection. And I don’t remember my old password, anyway. I didn’t need to. It’s saved on my PC. So what could I do?
I went out on my back porch and sipped my morning coffee. Instead of feeling distraught, a sense of peace came over me. I realized that one way or another, I would solve this problem. And then a thought flashed through my mind – something I learned during the study I have been writing about in the first chapters of my book.
I remembered the answer that flashed through my mind when I faced five faculty members to defend one of the questions I wanted to explore in my research study. “What is the best you can imagine for the children, families, and tribal community in the future?”
“How can you possibly find that out,” one faculty member asked. I already had heard the answer although I didn’t realize it until that question was asked. Whenever Ojibwe community members had shared their stories, they always mentioned memories of the good old days with elders before they were removed from their homes. Their voices took on a softer tone and their eyes were focused on long-past days. It was the past they romanticized and a future they longed to see manifested again.
Then, it struck me. The myth of America is similar in many ways to the romantic memories of the Ojibwe people who shared their stories with me. A day of thanksgiving, a place of equality, freedom, and brother(sister)hood. The strength of this myth for mobilizing people can be seen in the popular response to Bernie Sanders. He touches that place in people and ignites their hope.
Of course, the system can’t be changed by any one man or woman who is merely a figurehead of a monstrous bureaucracy that has had centuries to indoctrinate those who work there. But it’s the hope that the myth ignites in thousands of people that makes change a possibility.
It’s something energizing to think about, anyway. Today, it gives me hope. And maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to have my old password reset by a technician and sent to me at a newer email address. It’s one I can access now from the old PC I figured out how to connect to the internet today.
Photo: My new writing space
It may be a while before my system is functional, so please be patient. Until then, I send my greetings and my promise that I will keep working toward the best future I can imagine for all of us. I know you will all keep doing so, too.