Joel Silverstein

I have to keep positive, even when the world impedes. I need to smile and recite proverbs, even when ignorance is status quo. But I need to be heard. Moreover, if speaking up sparks fear and hatred, I must continue to love. If what I say triggers a naivety that some like to mask as “conservatism,” I cannot have remorse.

On April 26, I wrote an article concerning Cynthia McKinney, and her ability to represent our freedoms as citizens of a quasi-democratic nation. I wrote about her courage to question a waxing-imperialistic administration. Like McKinney, I experienced a tinge of negative response. I was told to be mindful of the difference between news and farce. I was told that “this type of political posturing happens all the time,” and that McKinney’s questioning of the Bush Administration’s knowledge of the attacks on Sept. 11 was a distasteful attempt at gaining notoriety. Then, CBS News decided to cover the story, and suddenly McKinney’s statements held merit. Funny.

Funny, like the words “conventional terrorism.” Funny, like President Bush referring to his withholding information as his first act of distrust, as if we’ve all forgotten how he got into office.

Sometimes, I feel that my trust has been abused. I grow tired of being told “we still have more rights than some other countries.” And 40 years after Joseph McCarthy, people still manage to deny themselves simple truths. People continue to live unhappy lives. I feel like I can live with what I find, because I hold another truth: I am alive.

I am alive because, though I choose to buy organic foods, I realize that “organic” was the only choice before industry’s mass production found shortcuts that yield a higher volume, but a slew of illnesses. Recently, I participated in a forest restoration weekend. I, along with 14 other “tree huggers”, most of whom have made a habit of giving back to the earth from which they take, planted shrubs and pine trees along a stream whose banks beef cows had desecrated. The stream sang songs through every turn, and I could raise my head to mountain peaks and a sun’s embrace of the forest, and be so alive. This awareness survives knowledge of what genetically altered milk does to young girls. It also survives a cocktail of anti-depressants that work to combat inferiority complexes constructed from a lifetime of emulating advertisements. We’re getting taller, we’re living longer, but are we happy? I’m working on it.

I see a world without names, and without mass violence as the ultimate solution. I see a nation that doesn’t resort to anti-Semitic, or anti-Arab mindsets as a means to resolve a conflict half way around the world. And in the distance, I see a place that everyone can agree, or agree to disagree and keep on keepin’, devoid of judgment. As we sow, so shall we reap.