Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
Somebody I was speaking with online recently pointed out that one of Obama’s burdens is not only that he has to live up to the legacies of Lincoln and FDR, presidents that he has name-checked on more than one occasion as inspirations, but that he’s also inadvertently going to be asked to live up to the entirely fictional legend of Jed Bartlet.
For my part, I find myself slightly surprised by how readily I want to be led, by how the force of Obama’s rhetoric and call to action stir in me a desire to follow.
Yesterday I found myself readily agreeing to write the narration script for a fifteen-minute documentary on a pro bono basis. A friend of my mother’s has been working for the past thirty years on a refugee crisis in Bangladesh that has lasted since 1971, involving a minority group of Biharis who have been shuttered away in settlement camps and denied the right to be citizens of any country in the region. I have been handed several hours of footage and a few other resources on the situation. The fact that there aren’t very many resources in the first place is itself an indicator of just how profound the travesty is…the idea that a half million people have just been forgotten by their neighbors.
The last time my mother was in Pakistan–she’s actually there right now, helping my aunt care for my grandparents–she spoke of the ever-increasing gap between the upper and lower classes, how the middle class was falling onto one side of the chasm or the other. I lay no claims at geopolitical expertise, but I don’t think it takes an expert to note that as poverty and desperation grows so too does the recruiting ability of extremists, such as those currently fighting our troops to a standstill in Iraq and Afghanistan. I don’t know how many fighters al-Qaida or the Taliban have managed to find among the ranks of the destitute in these Bangladeshi camps, but I have to believe that they’re trying.
So I tell myself that this isn’t just a humanitarian effort on my part, but something that could in fact benefit America and its new administration. I’m not sure why I need that latter part, but there it is.