Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Lineage

Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated. She has a single sister living -- the rest of her siblings, like her father, were also murdered. Now her nineteen year old son, Bilawal Zardari is assuming leadership of her political party. Her husband, Asif Ali, will be co-leader. After all, Bilawal is still a college student. He's gonna need some help.

And a suit of armor. And a Secret Service-like brigade, which he probably already has and which didn't seem to help his mother.

I feel so sad for this child, stepping into line for slaughter. It's nearly unimaginable, incomprehensible to me--the violence that politics wreaks. In the past few months, over 800 people have died in politically-related acts of violence in Pakistan.

Now, I don't know that much about Pakistani politics in particular and do know that Bhutto was no poster girl for political integrity.

But around the world--in much of the world--politics plays out on and through real bodies, takes lives. I wish more Americans would stand up and notice.

In her stunning book Storming the Gates of Paradise, Rebecca Solnit discusses the American relationship between world and self: "To live entirely for one's self in private is a huge luxury, a luxury countless aspects of this society encourage; but like a diet of pure foie gras, it clogs and narrows the arteries of the heart."

Once when we were driving down Summit Avenue, with all its regal steeple and lawn, Stryker asked if this was where the rich people live.

"We're the rich people," I told him.

He still evaluates himself and his life with an eye to the tony kids in private school and not an 11-year old orphaned by AIDS in Darfur. But I hope that one day my children will see themselves --and their great, stupid, random good fortune for which I am incredibly grateful--in the greater context of the world rather than one St. Paul street.

And above all, that they set themselves to the serious business of making some changes to that order.

5 comments:

Beth said...

With all the horrors taking place in the world I'm not sure why this one affected me with such force. But it did.
And, yes, our children must understand what a luxury it is to live in a democracy and how blessed they are to be so privileged.

cipriano said...

Tragic.
I watched the news in a sort of silent, abject, horror.
People need to read Sam Harris, and Amin Malouf.
-- Cip

Crockpot Lady said...

beautiful. we are very rich, indeed.--steph

Mary said...

I just ordered Letter to a Christian Nation from the library. Thanks for the recommendation!

Attila The Mom said...

Sounds like you're setting a wonderful example for them.

Really loved this post.