All Things Are Possible

posted October 30, 2004

“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.

The Comments

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  1. I read this post aloud to my husband with tears streaming down my face. This entry perfectly captures the combination of disappointment (with Kerry and his cowboy language), fear, and hope that I’m feeling as this election approaches. Living in a college town, I see the college students who are energized about this election. Apathy is so last year – these students are wearing their Kerry (and Bush) buttons proudly as they walk around campus. And my deepest hope is that this engagement, this feeling connected to the issues that affect all of us, will continue past the election, no matter the outcome.

  2. Nerissa, the only reason I can smile since the Sox won the Series is that part of me agrees with Katryna…if the Sox can win the Series, maybe this means good things for those from MA. (As a New Yorker and a hard core Yanks fan, it gives me solace…that, and the fact that I’ve renamed Oct 27, 2004 as The Day the Whining Died)

    I agree with you on the Bush/Kerry front…honestly, I’m not *excited* about John Kerry. I do, however, know that I am 100% opposed to President Bush, his attitudes and his policies. My thinking (sadly) is that if Mr. Bush wins, our world will be a dangerous, angry, vengeful one…the poor in this country will be in a whole lot more trouble…our country will take decades to recover.

    If Kerry wins, I do believe he won’t make it worse. The optomist/idealist in me (which was alive and well 4 years ago, and has been tamed by this administration and 3 years in South Central LA) believes that Kerry will surprise me…that the country will grow, heal, grow stronger. That we will be safer and that the world will respect us, and us them…too much? I miss my optomist and idealist self…she trusted, she found the best in everyone….I want her back…I want to find her.

    I hope Tuesday will bring her closer. Thanks for making me think, as always, Nerissa. I look forward to seeing you on Dec 11!

  3. N-
    There is something about the state of M.A. that is so hopeful. And your writing always embodies it. I experienced the state this summer at my uncle’s big house full of kids in Needham. I was taking a break from being on tour with music and I had this epiphony: According to MA, hanging an american flag, being proud to live here doesn’t mean you’re a filthy Bush-lover (like it seems to on the west coast). I haven’t felt such a pride in my home country since the aftermath of 911 as I did driving through your democratic state and seeing the flags and knowing they were on houses belonging to dads like my uncle and take-no-shit nonprofit grandwriters like my aunt and kids who know what “the separation of church and state” means. Mass. makes me think of our whole planet differently. And I have some last minute hope for this election reading your words because the other thing I learned in MA. this summer was baseball. Everyone’s undying love of the Red Sox was different than anywhere on the west coast. If the Red Sox can win unexpectedly because people believe in them and God is funny that way… so can Kerry.

  4. Hi all,
    Yes, we in MA ARE patriots. I love my country fiercely. As my friend Pam Houston wrote, “They can’t make me leave!” I will fight for justice here, whether in the majority or the minority, and I will claim the Stars and Bars as my own.

    BTW, it was old footage of Palastinians, not Iraqis, whom CNN showed dancing in the streets post 9/11. See how the brainwashing even worked on me?

  5. Nerissa.
    Every day I see another brand-new Yellow Ribbon on another brand-new SUV (next to another bright-new Bush ’04 sticker). And I just want to put my head down on the dashboard and whimper. But I can’t, because I’m driving.
    But it all makes me feel very desolate. Very alone.
    I don’t know that we can make a difference; but I know that it matters that we *try*. And it matters, too, to come home and turn on the computer and read something like this.
    (Thank you.)

  6. Speaking of John Kerry and the way he would handle the war in Iraq, John Kerry would send even MORE troops there, and “hunt down and kill terrorists everywhere”. People need to know that we fight this Iraq war as a proxy war for Israel. Israeli interests drive American policy. Ralph Nader is NOT under the controll of the zion masters who own most of the news media. Kerry and Bush are both bought and paid for by the zion elite.

    Nerissa feels sick hearing John Kerry speak about “killing terrorists” and knows something is wrong. Yes it is wrong. Kerry is a Bush clone and wont get my vote, not ever.
    Thank you and Happy Trails! luv, MOWHAWK MAN

  7. Nader doesn’t stand a chance at winning these elections mr Mowhawk, because of your countries undemocratic and very silly electionsystem which probably won’t ever be changed (with small states not willing to give up their privileges and all). So you’re throwing away your vote (I would normally encourage protest votes, but not in this election). It’s a choice between bad and worse, but Bush is definately worse. Kerry might send more troops to Iraq, but at least he will try to involve the international community more too. As for Israel, luckily they’re finally clearing the Gaza Strip, and I hope somebody will make them tear down that stupid illegal wall they’re building. BTW – I think you’re seeing ghosts mr Mowhawk.
    We Europeans think it is very unfair that half of the American people get to more or less choose ‘the new world leader’. The largest part of us would unanimously elect Kerry (not on his personal merrit, I was a fan of mr. Howard Dean, but more cause he’s not Bush). I was in great fear of coming tuesday, but thank you Nerissa for giving me a little hope πŸ™‚


  8. A few comments, as (almost) always.

    * I was secretly hoping for Boston to lose. Not so much because I wanted St. Louis to win because it really didn’t matter to me who they were playing. It all had to do with The Curse and The Curse as A Part of Baseball Tradition. I saw The Curse as the Spirit of Baseball thumbing it’s nose at corporate greed. The Bambino was traded for economic reasons and I felt The Curse represented The Fan’s love for the game and it’s players over the Owners and other Bottom Line feeders.

    My wife, however, saw the World Series as analogous to the election. (It would have been worse had Texas beat St. Louis) She’s far happier now that Boston was victorious, seeing in it a good sign for November 2nd.

    * However, November 2nd has already been decided. Not by baseball’s World Series, but by football’s Washington Redskins final home game before the election.

    Since the 1930s, the Washington Redskins have accurately determined the outcome of the election as a result of winning or losing their final home game of the season just before a Presidential election. If the Redskins win, the incumbant or the incumbant’s party holds the White House. If the ‘Skins lose, the challenger takes the White House. (Keith Olbermann, of MSNBC’s “Countdown” has blogged his report from Friday’s show. Go to and scroll down to the entry titled “Election to be Decided Sunday”)

    BTW, the ‘Skins played Green Bay Sunday afternoon. They lost, 28-14.

    * “But we don’t negotiate with terrorists!”That’s a paraphrase of Ronald Reagan’s line, “We will not negotiate with terrorists.” Reagan was referring to the Iranians who, as it turned out, he was secretly negotiating with.

    It’s probably more accurate then to say, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists publicly.* The polls show this to be a close election. Kerry, unfortuantely, is in a tough position. He needs to please not only the people on the left who want an end to the war in Iraq, but also the people in the middle who keep giving Dubbya positive numbers anytime “Iraq” gets re-phrased as “terror”.

    Is Kerry sounding a bit too hawkish for a lot of us on the Left? Sure. But I’d rather hear him talk “tough” than give the Reicht anything else to try and call him “weak” on.

    * I’ve said for over a year now that the winner of this election is going to be the candidate who’s party is the angriest. “Anger,” to quote Johnny Lydon, “Is an Energy.” In this case it’s going to be the energy that’s the motivating force to get people out and vote.

    Most on the Left felt the 2000 election was stolen. Take that and add in the pompous attitude of Dubbya, his (Lack of) Compassionate Conservatism and a war that was badly planned and is being badly managed with more and more kids dying every day and you have a lot of Anger.

    And from that, I firmly believe, will come great change.

  9. Being Jewish is not the same as being Zionist. I can be a good Jew, a good leftist, a good person, and a good American–contrary to popular belief. Turns out there’s rather a lot of people who fit that description, now and throughoout history.

    I’m not doing Tony Kushner justice when I paraphrase him, but as he says, it’s important to realize that electoral politics in America are not about our grandest ideals, but about keeping power away from the very rich and very wicked. I’m a Dean fan, too. I’m a fan of a lot of things. But if we the people elect Kerry, we’ll in that moment have gained back some small amount of trust and respect of the international community. That’s the most powerful thing we can do tomorrow.

    Let’s do it!

  10. Nerissa wrote:
    “All things are possible.”

    Bruce writes:
    Scientists found 13,000 year old bones of Hobbit-like 3-foot-tall humans of an entirely unknown species, in Indonesia, quite recently. Maybe believing in curses and leprechauns isn’t all that dumb after all. Ah the luck of the Irish! πŸ™‚

  11. Thank you, Nerissa, for your honest and accurate (at least to me) portrayal of the situation.
    John Kerry is a good man, I believe. But politics requires us to compromise our ideals to achieve greater goals. So, I’ll allow him to shoot geese, talk like John Wayne, and exaggerate. As long as he will be the one choosing the next Supreme Court justices, among other things, and not the guy whose name we will not mention.
    I refuse to idolize politicians or anyone else because I’m sure to be let down. I disagreed with Bill Clinton on a lot of things, but he was the best President we’ve had in many a year (especially compared to his immediate predecessors. ) I, too, have to compromise my ideals to make the world a better place.
    We have to win tomorrow. My righteousness depends on it, stability depends on it, hell everything depnds this sweet, sweet dream.
    Jeff from Charlotte,

  12. Nerissa,
    It’s amazing how each time you add an entry to your blog, I think to myself “This is my favorite one yet!!!” (and this one *is* my favorite). I really hope that John Kerry wins the election, but if he doesn’t I am planning on doing what I can to get the word of impeachment out (again). And regardless of who wins the election I know I will still need to speak up against the war in Iraq, attend peace vigils & marches. Approximatly 100,000 people in Iraq have died…this saddens & sickens me deeply. We as a country should be grieving for *all* people who have lost their lives due to the US’s more than physically lost lives & serious injuries, it’s also the mental angish that war must bring…a majority of the people involved in this war will have to live with some kind of mental illness….the nightmares will probably be with them for life. The reality of the war is kept hush hush by the mainstream media, which does us all a great dis-service. Many of us have learned to do our own research …searching for truth, but many people still rely on corperate imbedded news resulting in a form of mind control of the masses. This is why George Bush even stands a chance at re-election imho. Thank you Nerissa for speaking & writing your mind… your style is oftentimes both whimsical & serious… and we still need whimsy, even in the most serious of times.

    Feeling carefully optimistic.

    ~ April

  13. Today of all days hopes and fears rise to the surface, the way they do at weddings, or at Christmas for some children. Though my support for Kerry is half-hearted, he embodies more hopes than fears in my book. What has Bush to run on other than fear?
    πŸ™‚ Stephen

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