Friday, July 20, 2007
Breathe, Annabel, Breathe
In a few hours, I’ll be flying back ot the U.S. to join my many friends working with 121 Coalition. Since I’ve been gone, Annabel tells me three more Florida Congresspersons have agreed to co-sponsor House Res. 121. She says the up and coming vote has got her and the rest of the coalition so busy there’s barely time to breathe.
Breathe, Annabel, breathe. When it seems there is too much work and the politics get in the way, close your eyes and hear the women’s voices as they give us the gift of their testimonies. The women have walked the path before us, beautiful warriors with so much pain in their bones, in the muscles of their feet, so much pain in the heart. Now they guide us to this right and noble end. We are on the road to justice, to relieving the pain of the past, to reconciliation and forgiveness.
Breathe, Annabel, breathe. The women who speak and name the crimes committed against them, speak for you and me, speak for all our sisters who have been on this earth, who walk with us now and who will be borne to us.
Breathe, Annabel, breathe. It is a gift to know their faces, to fight for justice in their name. It is a blessing to be on this path.
I have been reading the crazy propaganda out there. People write me and try to tell me that the women were paid or sold or volunteered. I let them talk because I know the truth. I have sat with more than forty survivors in my life time. I have heard the stories of at least half of them. I have been to their sites of abduction, to the “comfort stations” that were (and are again) churches and houses and schools for the people of the Philippines. Too many of the women have told me how they have been yanked from the path or dragged along the road. Too many have led my own hands to their scars and I felt the wounds of war. I have seen how the effects of war still wear on them today – sixty years later.
I don’t need to fight the propaganda because the truth is in the testimony of women who should be spending their twilight years among their grandchildren – feeding them, holding them, making kwento to them about the good memories of their lives – not standing in the streets holding banners, not testifying in courts and recounting stories of sexual abuse, not fighting a cancer born of rape or venereal disease at the age of 92.
This is what I do when the politics of this struggle overwhelm me, I go back to the lolas and I hear their voices. I feel their hands on me. I see what has happened to them and I remember with my heart. I breathe as if they are sitting right next to me, being with me.
The truth is too powerful. I have witnessed first hand the plight of surviving “Comfort Women” no politician too busy to meet with the women and hear them speak can convince me of any other truth.
So breathe my dear sister, it is the way of the heart. It is the reason we fight. Not just for these women, but for all women. Not just for the women, but for men too. For humankind, diba? Forget all the other rhetoric, remember why you do this and breathe.