Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Desire for ReFraming

With a psychology background, it is a privileged ability to "reframe" a situation. Reframing is simply the dismantling of one context and rebuilding another. Reframing is often used in counseling. You reframe a sentence and say it back to a client to put it in a different, hopefully more positive or uplifting tone.

For example, a client may say, "All I want and need is to be with my son who is starting first grade. He's getting bullied and comes home everyday, silent and moody. And there's nothing, nothing I can do about it. I just want to be with him, but my jobs make it impossible for me."

Reframing is cleaning up the verbiage, getting to the heart of the message, and offering it back for clarity. So, reframing would be, "I can understand that it's very frustrating to want to be there and support your son while the demands of your jobs complicate that for you."

I often reframe. It helps keep me grounded and keeps my mind sharp. On days like Independance Day, it can be helpful to reframe such major concepts.

Normally, when I think of America's birthday, I think of a patriarchal and oppressive government, dominated by white men and the stealing of this land from Native Americans. That is the history of this country and I cannot ignore it.

I think of the conversation I had with an Indian man I met in NYC six years ago outside a Thai restaurant. He charged at his pad thai with a force comparable to his politics of the wastefulness of fireworks, "All I can think of is the million of dollars that go into planning such a display when that money could easily go toward a project that truly celebrates freedom, of independence. Like, I don't know, actually helping the poor instead of celebrating the freedom of a few people to exploit a capitalistic society that forces poverty on millions."

What to do on the 4th of July. What to do. What decisions to make.

How DO you celebrate our "independence?" And at what costs come at such independence? My independence has been lifted upon the blood shed of millions, the oppressed. My 4th of July comes at a price that I know most people on this planet cannot afford. Do I have a Corona with a lime to mark this day? Do I grill up some burgers and call it a holiday?

How do I reframe this 'holiday?'

CAN I reframe this 'holiday?'

The only way I can reframe it, honestly, is to go forth like it's any other day in America, a country. A day where I realize my freedom to blog about the 4th of July has come at the expense of other human lives and the American flag will continue to wave itself under artificial winds, boasting a supernation's chest. Do we, North Americans, realize we are one more firework's boom away from implosion? That our policies are cracked, our pride is circus, and our politicians are filthy magicians?
Our independence is introuble and IN-dependence of inhuman practices of modern day slavery and a war that was flawed in its infancy.

I spin my wheels on this one. How do I make sense of this when I can hear the firecrackers going off next door with periodical whoops of drunken celebration?

My wheels continue to spin. I don't feel anger, only shame.

To my ancestors, to my foremothers and forefathers, to all who came before me on trails of tyranny and blood, to all who fought and lost, and whose glory of freedom was never realized, to all who have paid a dear price - far larger than my burdened heart - the only reframing I have for this 4th of July is an apology.

I'm sorry that we, as a country, are still learning social and global responsibility. I'm sorry that I am not capable of more on a daily basis and this screen is the only tool in which I express my rage for this country's reign of terror. I have never paid for nor have never lived outside my citizenship. I'm sorry that the resonating explosion in the hearts of North Americans tonight will not be a jolt to action, but a mundane appreciation for pretty fires in the sky that we claim as ours. There will be no thundering realization that the world is not right and that we, North Americans, are responsible for much of that. And yet still, we will light canons to glorify our constitution, our practices of self-centeredness, and misguided patriotism. All we know are stars and stripes, in English, and we believe that is more than enough.

I offer my own reframing of this holiday as a wrecked gift, a hasty and embarrassed attempt to reform what is most grotesque: a night of loud celebration when so many exist in the wailing darkness that we have cast in our ignorance and complacency.

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