“All things are possible.” These are the words that have been with me since October 20 when the Red Sox beat the Yankees in game seven of the playoffs.
Katryna called me sometime in late September after the Red Sox got into the playoffs as the Wild Card team.
“I can’t help but think,” she said. “That if the Red Sox beat the Yankees, John Kerry can beat George Bush.”
“Stop,” I said. “Don’t say that! You’ll jinx them both!”
For I too, believe in curses. And at the time, the idea that the Red Sox could beat the Yanks was way more absurd and far fetched than that Kerry could beat Bush.
Now I’m not so sure. I’m also, quite frankly, thoroughly disgusted with the campaign–both campaigns– and more fearful than ever. Not to be a downer, but jeez. Now, I am constitutionally unable to support George W. Bush based on positions he’s held probably all his life, or ever since he got sober at any rate and knew what he stood for (if this is, in fact the case): he’s got a terrible attitude toward the environment, he’s for so-called tax relief which I call “lower taxes for rich guys and corporations”; he’s anti-choice and he says “nuclear” wrong. Worst of all, he purports to disdain intelligence and made a mockery of his own educational opportunities. But the nail in his coffin, as far as I was concerned, was how he handled affairs post 9/11. Unlike (apparently) the majority of the country, I was appalled at the way he turned an unprecedented national tragedy into a global-political opportunity to advance his own foreign agenda.
I was terrified after 9/11. I felt profoundly unsafe, and I desperately wanted my commander in chief to make me feel safer. I believe that violence begets violence, and that we were attacked by people who feel supremely unsafe and threatened. These people cruelly used what means they had to fight back. Their actions were wrong, and this was blatantly obvious to virtually all citizens of the world (scenes of Iraqis dancing in the street notwithstanding–and as I recall, those scenes, shown ad nauseum on CNN, were actually taken from years before in a different context.) I’m not suggesting we should have pacified terrorists. I’m suggesting we should have taken that time to formulate a plan in the context of all the world’s leaders. We should have–yes–tried to talk to the so called enemy.
“But we don’t negotiate with terrorists!”
Well, where does that get us? To a world where the oppressed have no other recourse than stealth; where the citizens of wealthier countries live in constant fear that the voiceless enemy will attack at any time? I’d rather look my enemy in the face and hear what they have to say than insist on ignoring them until they disappear. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that approach hasn’t worked so well in Israel.
So I wasn’t thrilled to hear John Kerry say yesterday almost verbatim what W. said in 2001: we will “hunt down and destroy” terrorists. He’s trying to out-cowboy the president.
Well, just as far-right conservatives must have said to each other in 2000 when George W. Bush was calling for “compassionate conservatism” and trying to come off as some kind of a moderate, a lot of my liberal pals are telling me that John Kerry is not really going to be a cowboy once he’s our president. He just has to talk that way now. You know what? I believe them. I know Kerry will be a better president, and that’s why I am campaigning for him, and he will get my vote. But I still feel sick to my stomach. This campaign is a horror show. Both sides are lying and distorting and spin spin spinning. It’s another kind of war; another kind of violence. It’s bad for the soul.
I woke up at two in the morning Thursday from a nightmare: there had been a bad call and the Red Sox hadn’t actually won. They were still playing; the Cardinals had caught up and it was 3-3 in the 14th inning. Tom was sitting two feet from the TV and I was knitting and thinking, “it never changes.”
But it was a dream. We did win. We broke the curse. Curses are powerful. We all believe in them, even if we say we don’t. We jinx ourselves all the time. We say, “I can’t sing” because once, when we were little, some mean older person told us that. We say “I can’t do math” because we got a C in freshman Algebra. Actually, a C means you can do math. Just not as well as Einstein could. We say “I always get my heart broken” because if that happens even once, it’s so painful you sometimes think “I’ll do anything to prevent that from happening again, so I’ll put out a big sign saying ‘it’s not possible for me to love. Leave me alone.'”
All things are possible. The world changes. The world changes in ways way beyond anyone’s control, in mysterious evolutionary ways. Dinosaurs, it seems, turned into birds. Fierce gigantic dinosaurs! Who weighed a billion tons and shook the ground when they walked! They turned into soaring eagles, clever bluejays, tasty ducks, winsome hummingbirds.
Curses get broken. We say, “I may not be able to sing like Maria Callas, but I can carry a tune.” We say, “I can’t do calculus but I can balance my checkbook.” We say, “My heart is broken, and it is mended; it is stronger in the broken places and I will love again.” We say, “this is a new day, a new ballgame. And we’re going to win it.”
Thousands of college kids have registered to vote. No one is polling them. No one is counting them as likely voters. But on our Folk the Vote tour in St. Louis and Cincinnati, young women came up to me with tee shirts saying “Students for Choice: I Don’t Trust Any Bush But My Own.” They have fire in their eyes. They know the power they wield in their fingers: the power to vote. The power to change. The power to break the curse of expectations.