What's wrong with the word refugee? Interesting link about objections to using "refugee" to describe the citizens/evacuees/victims of Hurricane Katrina. Apparently George Bush and Al Sharpton aren't the only ones who think it's a Third World word that shouldn't be used to describe displaced citizens of the world's remaining superpower. Even though it describes the situation exactly. Refugee is a word that could be a bridge uniting us with the true plight of millions of people around the world. This is what it looks like, this is how scary it is. We forget that some people seek refuge in "temporary" shelters for years in the aftermath of natural or political disasters. "Refugee" is a word that could give us insight and sympathy, but instead we're shunning it, banishing it as a word we just can't bear to use because it takes away our priveleged, untouchable, free, and lucky status?
("Disaster," however, is a word that's been temporarily stricken from my vocabulary. Salad dressing gone past its expiration date is no longer a disaster; neither is missing a day of yoga, not having an orgasm, nor discovering I need to lose ten pounds if I'm to look at all fetching in a Wicked Weasel. As of now those are all inconveniences. In a couple of months, however, I don't doubt they'll be disasters again.)
I thought Jackson was still in that place where he thought that grownups govern the world with near-Platonic rules of conduct and fairness. Even though you and I both know that everyone old enough to vote and everyone they voted for is just making it up as they go along. Evacuation plan? New Orleans didn't have one. I don't have one. And I live in a tsunami zone. Until last Christmas that would've been funny. Now every morning when I walk out my door I glance at the mountains behind me and try to calculate their distance -- is it one mile? Two? How fast could I get there carrying a plastic grocery sack of food in one hand, a dog on a leash with the other, and piggybacking a four-year-old boy?
The other night Jackson was in the tub and I noticed that the dirty skateboarding accident Band-aid on his elbow was starting to loosen up, so without warning him I just tugged it off. He howled at me. And I realized that I'd robbed him of the chance to talk me out of it, and if that didn't work at least to anticipate the pain. I took away his choice and he was furious about it.
Then yesterday after school we were watching a cartoon in bed and without even looking at me he said, "I don't trust grownups. I only trust kids." And I said, "This is about the Band-aid, isn't it? I'm sorry about that." But he didn't answer me.