Salutations on This New Year's Day
This is the first day of a brand new year. And in this sparkling new world of a year, I expect to stretch my wings and fly into several new arenas. For one thing, I have been invited to begin cross-blogging occasionally here at Citizen Orange. I'm both honored and excited about this new alliance and anticipate it being a productive one for all concerned. I'm joining a very adept and savvy team here and will work hard to live up to their expectations as we fight together for justice for all people in the United States and around the world.
In addition to this lovely development, I just learned a couple of weeks ago that a major academic publisher wants to include one of my blog posts from Why Am I Not Surprised? in a reader on social problems this spring. Needless to say, I'm very excited about this for several reasons and frankly long to dance through the doors that it may open for me.
To further complicate my already sometimes overwhelming commitments to teaching, research, and the writing I do other than blogging, there are, believe it or not, several other new projects I very much want to bring to fruition, as well. So I enter this year rather like Dorothy tip-toeing down the yellow brick road toward the Emerald City, the principle difference being that Dorothy wanted to go back to Kansas eventually and I have no idea where I'll wind up.
Everything that's happening is stuff I've wanted to see happen, so I have no complaints coming about the sheer magnitude and speed as the process of my life revs up around me. Still, I begin with my heart in my throat, even though I do, in fact, believe that I will have whatever I need to accomplish what I am assigned by the Universe to do.
As I considered what I wanted to communicate on this first day of 2008 and my first day at Citizen Orange, I came across a poem by Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney that moved me so much, I couldn't imagine any better way to greet all my new friends and new endeavors. Those of you to whom I am new will learn that am committed to change, that I struggle with the monsters of oppression in all its forms on a daily basis whether that is half-way around the world or deep inside my own psyche. And so I seek to remind myself with this poem that not only is there no going back to Kansas ever again for me, but the position I have voluntarily accepted to represent the Republic of Conscience can never be abdicated. Everyone is welcome in the Republic of Conscience, no matter where they come from and no matter where they live. May we learn this year what we need to know to usher in a better, freer world and begin by receiving Seamus Heaney's words:
~~From the Republic of Conscience~~
by Seamus Heaney
When I landed in the republic of conscience
it was so noiseless when the engines stopped
I could hear a curlew high above the runway.
At immigration, the clerk was an old man
who produced a wallet from his homespun coat
and showed me a photograph of my grandfather.
The woman in customs asked me to declare
the words of our traditional cures and charms
to heal dumbness and avert the evil eye.
No porters. No interpreter. No taxi.
You carried your own burden and very soon
your symptoms of creeping privilege disappeared.
Fog is a dreaded omen there, but lightning
spells universal good and parents hang
swaddled infants in trees during thunderstorms.
Salt is their precious mineral. And seashells
are held to the ear during births and funerals.
The base of all inks and pigments is seawater.
Their sacred symbol is a stylized boat.
The sail is an ear, the mast a sloping pen,
the hull a mouth-shape, the keel an open eye.
At their inauguration, public leaders
must swear to uphold unwritten law and weep
to atone for their presumption to hold office –
and to affirm their faith that all life sprang
from salt in tears which the sky-god wept
after he dreamt his solitude was endless.
I came back from that frugal republic
with my two arms the one length, the customs woman
having insisted my allowance was myself.
The old man rose and gazed into my face
and said that was official recognition,
that I was now a dual citizen.
He therefore desired me when I got home
to consider myself a representative
and to speak on their behalf in my own tongue.
Their embassies, he said, were everywhere
but operated independently
and no ambassador would ever be relieved.