Stewart and I have declared today a Buy Nothing Day. Hooray! So far, so good. No impulse buys. No debits or dexits. I like it because the day feels more meaningful; it just hangs together better when I put my consumer self on hold for awhile. And since I’m broke right now, the break from spending can only be beneficial.
Last night we were musing about urban, industrial life, how its not so subtle subtext is SPEND, SPEND, SPEND! It made me think about my great-grandparents Fred and Lizzie who had a farm and raised mules in Missouri. For them, most days were Buy Nothing Days and needed no remark, but Buy Something Days would have been much more novel. I remember Gran saying they rode out the Depression fine because they grew their own food.
On a Thursday night a few months back, I saw a conscientious objector from South Dakota at the University of Toronto. Before I saw him in person, I had heard Jeremy Hinzman’s name in Quaker circles and then on a CBC radio program which narrated stories of Vietnam and Iraqi war resisters in Canada. Hinzman’s quietly humorous voice had impressed me, especially when recounting his “reason for visit” to immigration officials at the Canadian border: “We’re going to visit Friends.” Luckily the border staff didn’t detect the implied F, but if they had noticed it might have spelled trouble for the visitor and his family, for these kind of Friends welcome fugitive soldiers, even shelter them in their homes, just as they did for Underground Railroad refugees more than a century ago.
As an American who immigrated to Canada via Britain, I sympathize with Hinzman’s plight and agree with his position on the war. That’s why I was so keen to hear the views of a former US military insider. I have also shared some aspects of Jeremy’s situation, such as sheltering at the Society of Friends’ Meeting House when I first came to Toronto almost three years ago. Although I was fleeing isolation from my family instead of a command to fight in Iraq, I think displacement is universally disorienting. Moreover, as a peaceful American and daughter of a Navy man, I wanted to learn more about Hinzman’s experience.
Continue reading “Country Love”
The west side of my LINC classroom is basically two enormous windows. They’re great for watching the alley traffic near Coffee Time. While I was sitting at a table happily filling in the attendance after class, an incoming student (for the next class) pulled up a nearby chair to face the window. We shared a quiet existential moment watching the snow fall.
Yesterday I was reading The History of God in a coffeeshop when a elderly man asked if he could sit in the opposite armchair. Pretty soon we struck up a conversation and I learned that he’s 83, a Midwesterner like me, and a WWII veteran. We talked about Maimonides and Israeli politics. I enjoyed his stories.