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"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

...............................................................Thomas Jefferson

Monday, May 4, 2009

Roxana Saberi's Persistent Murmur

When the Iranian government denied that Roxana Saberi was on a hunger strike last week, she increased the intensity of her protest against imprisonment by refusing, as well, the sweetened water which has sustained her.

As a result, says Reporters Without Borders, she was briefly treated in the prison clinic.

We don't know whether that means she was coerced or cajoled into drinking water. Or whether that means she was forcibly re-hydrated by use of intravenous saline-water solution.

We do know that global voices are raised supporting her. Here in America, over there in Iran where her parents work for her release, in her mother Akiko's heritage land of Japan whose diplomats, too, seek her freedom.

We do know that Roxana Saberi is still confined in prison.

Some may not understand the point of a hunger strike. A local talk radio host had to have it explained to him by one of Roxana's professors, according to Fargo newspaper reporting.

Here's the point.

When your life is totally out of your control, when you are a captive, imprisoned, in despair, there is little you can control except whether you eat, whether you live.

We see this play out in countless ways, if we only will look. Suicide rates among Native Americans—where unemployment is extreme and alchoholism and meth addition are rampant—is woefully high in this country. Jihad and the appeal of suicide bombings rely in part on the despair of people like those living in Gaza and other impoverished swaths of the globe. When the politics of apartheit are practiced, the politics of hate and division and profiteering on war, then despair flourishes. We see it, too, in the rise of membership in internet hate groups.

In the era of selfishness which still clenches its tentacles deep in the fiber of the country, it is all too easy to let these realities stay mysterious, and just walk on by. Or continue to listen to the preachers of hate and division for vulgarian ratings and greed without asking anything of ourselves.

The lessons that would steer us in a new direction are before us all the time. For those who profess their Judeo-Christian values, the lessons are as close as "do onto others..." or the Good Samaritan. Yes, they hear those on Sunday but do not listen, turning instead to the venomous vulgarians who make an epithet of Samaritan, spitting it out as "socialist."

Sometimes the lesson is as close as a hometown girl choosing to starve herself. Will we look? Will we see? Will we speak out?

The persistent murmur of global voices that has risen against hate, and greed, and division, and selfishness in the era of the blogosphere must not be silenced, and must be heard by all of us. But that's not the end, that's only the beginning.

One woman's hunger strike—an act of despair. Or an act of defiance? We only know that even in a remote Iranian prison, she has still chosen to act.

We can, too. Whatever you care passionately about...you can act. Call your Congressman or Senator. Talk to your neighbors and friends. Write letters to the editor. Volunteer for social justice. Be the difference.

Be part of the persistent murmur that will break through the status quo, the selfishness, the lobbyist control, the Republican hardwiring, the concern trolling...be the mover of mountains.

By carrying away small stones, one murmur at a time.
crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

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