Sunday, January 15, 2012


i just finished watching sons of perdition, a very intense and compelling documentary about children exiled from "the crick", so-called, a slice of earth under the control of warren jeffs, leader of the FLDS church. over the course of the film, you come to understand in at least a small way the huge price the boys profiled in the film have paid for their freedom. these exiles are unable to get into high school, get social security cards, or jobs, and worst of all, are cut off from their beloved families. in one heart breaking scene, a man who has been out of the community for eleven years says that his whole attitude towards family has changed since leaving: "you don't know what you have until it's gone." it's surprising to hear young people talking so fondly and lovingly of their families--the movie in some way derails our cultural expectations--we're so used to the stereotype of the rebellious teen who hates and resents their family of origin. these teens couldn't be more different.

i guess i made the stupid assumption that the people who got out of that community would be so glad to be gone that the loss of their family would be a price that they would gladly pay. or that the life they had lived under those circumstances would be so hellish that they would angry at their families for staying or putting up with it. instead, the three boys profiled in the film were loyal to their mothers and even their sometimes abusive fathers, and to their huge groups of siblings. in one of my favorite scenes, joe gets into the car after meeting briefly with his mother so she could sign papers in order for him to be able to work or go to school. he gets back into the filmmakers' car, and a 44 oz. soda cup from subway sits prominently in the cup holder next to him. he says he asked his mom if she couldn't have at least brought some soup from home. "oh, man. i miss my mom's cooking. that stuff 's good."

you all know that my primary way of expressing love for my family is by cooking for them & so this scene was especially wrenching for me. the juxtaposition of that subway cup against joe's desire for some of his mother's soup was tender. i hang out with teens a lot in my job, and most of them love nothing more than eating at subway. that scene vividly portrayed the essence of the homesickness the boys were feeling.

and it was heartbreaking to see how the mothers' hands are tied. if they try to protect their children or nurture the exiled ones in any way, they and the children who are left behind are in jeopardy.the boys in the film were a credit to their mothers--they struggled to act honorably, to lift up and protect their families, and displayed an incredible amount of strength and courage.

definitely see this film. it's out on netflix now, and it's fantastic.

it felt especially relevant this weekend, a weekend in which we try to honor the sacrifices made in the name of freedom and human rights, and hopefully do work to increase freedom for every person in the world.

at the end of sons of perdition, one of the boys says, "this is a kind of modern day slavery." the film is pretty convincing evidence of the fact.

& it occurred to me (again) how many stories of slavery and oppression are out there, in every corner of the world.

no one should be forced to forsake one's family or one's homeland in order to be free.

and yet,

so, so many have been forced to--

across centuries and oceans--

here's a snippet from margaret walker's poem "for my people" published in poetry magazine in 1937, and available in full text on the poetry foundation website (one of my most frequented websites):

For my people standing staring trying to fashion a better way
from confusion, from hypocrisy and misunderstanding,
trying to fashion a world that will hold all the people,
all the faces, all the adams and eves and their countless generations;

Let a new earth rise. Let another world be born. Let a
bloody peace be written in the sky. Let a second
generation full of courage issue forth; let a people
loving freedom come to growth. Let a beauty full of
healing and a strength of final clenching be the pulsing
in our spirits and our blood. Let the martial songs
be written, let the dirges disappear. Let a race of men now
rise and take control.

i'm glad we have a holiday to think about freedom, and hopefully figure out a way to "fashion a world that will hold all the people/ all the faces."

here's hoping that we won't need such a holiday one day.

inspiration: "trying to fashion a better way from confusion"--the imagination of a new way that julie wrote about in yesterday's blogpost.

legwear: tights (black)

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