Monday, July 4, 2011

Where Is The Light: Self-Immolation, A Way To Peace?

Washington, D.C. and Me (1961 – 2011)

Spring, 1965

Now it is Spring, 1965 and I have, with guidance from my ob-gyn left my abusive marriage. I am on my own for the first time in my life, outside of college, A single, very inexperienced, mother of a two year old. Beyond my few high school jobs, I’ve never even really held a job. But I am determined, somehow, to make it on my own.

I don’t know how to tell my parents about the abuse. Awesome as are my parents in California, able to talk about almost anything and everything, somehow this topic is something about which I have no way to speak. (My mother in Ohio is a person I have never had a single, real conversation with. So this would not be a time to try.)

A neighbor woman in my apartment building where formerly my husband and I had been living together, apparently, sees my plight to survive. She arranges a part time position for me as a receptionist at an organization of which she is a member, the Women’s Strike For Peace. They have an office right in the business center of Washington, D.C. in the Dupont Circle area.

The office of the Women’s Strike For Peace is a circus everyday. But, frankly, everything in Washington is all kind of the same for me. Excitement charges the air everywhere. Having spent much of my adolescence in Hollywood, "excitement" is kind of the norm for me. At this stage I don’t even notice it much.

And, I am not yet experienced enough to distinguish one type of person from another. That will come much later; too late, actually, for me to avoid the very typical pitfalls of Washington’s fast track lifestyle.

Nonetheless, one day at the Women’s Strike For Peace becomes a circus beyond my wildest imaginings.

A member of the organization has set herself on fire, right on the campus of Wayne State University. Later I hear the term “self-immolation” to describe this event, a form of protest. In this case protest of a political nature. Excited people in a flurry of activity are in and out of the office all day. They seem happy with the course of events.

I do not yet know how to think about things, happening to me or around me. Nonetheless, I know what has occurred is BIG!

After awhile, someone in the office sends me to the florist to buy an arrangement for the woman. Several days later they are disappointed and sad. The woman has died.

Was this self-immolator supposed to be the light?

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