Thursday, August 26, 2004

Wise Women

Once upon a future time Arundhati Roy will sit around the fire ring of the council of wise women midwifing a new way for humankind, nurturing the many "somethings better" that await us. I know this as I know the sound of my childrens' voices, as I know the hum of blood moving in my head, as I know what the wind feels as it blows through my hair and on my skin. Read her words, not ten days old, spoken in San Francisco on August 16th, and rebroadcast by "Democracy Now" radio: TIDE? OR IVORY SNOW? Public Power in the Age of Empire.

Excerpt: "In the United States, on the other hand, the blurring of the distinction between sarkar [government] and public has penetrated far deeper into society. This could be a sign of a robust democracy, but unfortunately, it's a little more complicated and less pretty than that. Among other things, it has to do with the elaborate web of paranoia generated by the U.S. sarkar and spun out by the corporate media and Hollywood. Ordinary Americans have been manipulated into imagining they are a people under siege whose sole refuge and protector is their government. If it isn't the Communists, it's al-Qaeda. If it isn't Cuba. it's Nicaragua. As a result, this, the most powerful nation in the world - with its unmatchable arsenal of weapons, its history of having waged and sponsored endless wars, and the only nation in history to have actually used nuclear bombs - is peopled by a terrified citizenry, jumping at shadows. A people bonded to the state not by social services, or public health care, or employment guarantees, but by fear."
I read her book The God of Small Things shortly after it was published (1997), just before it received the UK's Booker McConnell prize. To call Roy a writer of note is high praise, but it doesn't begin to encompass the life works of this amazing being, born in 1961. You can find more bio here.

Controversy follows her around like a hungry puppy in her native India. She is an outspoken activist and critic of how all governments work (most of them poorly), and has been regularly skewering the US rulers since the invasion of Afghanistan. Her message of August 16th is not a positive one. So don't read it for happy talk. Happiness is the pervue of the Maiden. The Mother and Crone often are the keepers of the bad news.

"The mandarins of the corporate world, the CEOs, the bankers, the politicians, the judges and generals look down on us from on high and shake their heads sternly. "There's no Alternative," they say. And let slip the dogs of war ... Terrorism is vicious, ugly, and dehumanizing for its perpetrators, as well as its victims. But so is war. You could say that terrorism is the privatization of war. Terrorists are the free marketers of war. They are people who don't believe that the state has a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence ... Human society is journeying to a terrible place ... Of course, there is an alternative to terrorism. It's called justice."
Articulate, smart, creative and wise. Strong. The Cassandra in me (who sits between me and Hulkette) has seen a viable and creative future, and it has many women like Arundhati giving it life.