Given the events in Belgrade of the last couple of weeks - the seemingly random attacks, the last-minute suppression of the gay parade - it does not seem a time to speak out and be heard. We should all stop and consider what we have allowed to happen here. I had not planned on writing on this subject as it has been thoroughly talked about, but I happened to find this in my reading, which I thought might be relevant.
The pilgrims were happy and thankful in 1637 that America had not killed them all. The Indians were happy and thankful that the pilgrims had not killed them all (yet). They survived. As a tribute to their survival, Americans traditionally eat themselves into oblivion on this holiday.
And not everyone will survive.
A disenchanted American nation was ready to vote in a Georgia peanut farmer as president, to put away the hallucinogenics which blurred out most of the late 60s and early 70s, to put away their anti-Vietnam War banners, and start over again. The morale of US of A was lagging by defeat in Asia, humiliation in the White House, and the beginnings of recession and the Energy Crisis.
Enter the Italian Stallion: Rocky Balboa
Rocky, the film of the year, was the story of loser made good. Many people called it the embodiment of the American Dream. How a down and out Philadelphia boxer moves up the ranks to challenge and defeat the heavyweight champion of the world is the kind of rags to riches story which is called "inspirational" and "quintessentially American."
I had been standing there for about ten minutes before someone saved me.
Entering the bus for the first time a few years ago, I went to the ticket punching machine and place my ticket inside. And I stood and waited for the machine to automatically clamp its electronic jaws on the ticket and officially stamp my presence on the bus. The machine, naturally, did nothing. I stared in impatience. I placed it inside again. I waited again. Nothing.
At this point, a kind stranger came over to me and wordlessly ended my puzzlement. He grabbed the lever and pulled, stamping my ticket.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Due to the new law on traffic, I am currently in the market for trading in my car in exchange for an elephant. Please contact this blog with photo and details. Camels also will be considered. No time wasters please.
Given that the newly sanctioned traffic cameras will apparently be rolling all the time, there will be no place for the White City's traffic cowboys to hide. By cowboy, I am referring to the guy in the black Audi, with no license numbers, slaloming from right to left to right lanes at 130 kph while talking on one cell phone, texting on another, lighting a cigarette, changing the cd music, and wearing dark glasses behind tinted windows.
This is generally regarded as the beginning of the Christmas story in Western Christianity. Caesar Augustus, needing to revamp the Roman budget to maintain his supply of bread and circuses, sent out this emergency decree. I think he used Facebook, but this is an unconfirmed rumor.
Of course, this set the wheels spinning. It does not take much, admittedly, but spinning they were set nevertheless.
He was referring to the Great Blic List of 50 Most Powerful Foreigners – published today – from which my humble foreignness was inconspicuously absent. In reality, the lists that I could hope to be on would be more like
List of 50 Bald People
List of 50 Big-Mouthed Complainers
List of 50 Inconsistent Bloggists
List of 50 Foreign Curmudgeons
List of 50 People who Really Do Not Belong on a List of 50 People Published in the Press
The most common thing for me to say at this point would be: "Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2011"
Of course in Serbia the order would be reversed. And the words would be different. And Christmas may not be mentioned. And the year may be omitted for practical purposes. Otherwise it would be almost the same. Practically speaking.
And now, we have formalized our decision by swearing him in as the forty-fourth president of the US. We got our change we think. But he has not changed much yet - except the words.
The words are important. The words of the past administration had been words about fear, security, and about threats - everywhere there were threats. The words made us feel safe at first. We thought that someone else was worried about our safety.
But then we wanted change from these words. Those words made us act out of worry. They divided us. They sullied the reputation of the country abroad.