Friday, June 5, 2015

"Ha det bra!"

When my grandmother said "goodbye" to us she would often use a Norwegian phrase...

"Ha det bra!" 

Which technically is not a means "Have it good!"  I am especially reminded of this today...the last day of school (a sad & happy day) for the year 2014-15.

In many Native American languages there is no word for "goodbye"...only "see you" or "see you soon". Can a word ever separate the learning, dialogue, and memories we've shared with each other in school this year?

I say "no!"

So since I am not really good at goodbyes, let's just say "Ha det bra!" and "Kill the Jellyfish!"

A Poem written by Mary Tallmountain...

“There Is No Word for Goodbye”

Sokoya, I said, looking through the net of wrinkles into wise black pools of her eyes.
What do you say in Athabascan when you leave each other?
What is the word for goodbye?

A shade of feeling rippled the wind-tanned skin.
Ah, nothing, she said, watching the river flash.

She looked at me close. We just say, Tlaa. That means, “see you.”
We never leave each other.

When does your mouth say goodbye to your heart?
She touched me light as a bluebell.
You forget when you leave us; you're so small then.

We don't use that word.
We always think you're coming back, but if you don't,
we'll see you some place else.
You understand.

There is no word for goodbye.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Duc Nguyen:Killing Agent Orange

Viet and Duc Nguyen ca. 1988

Viet and Duc Nguyen were born as conjoined twins (as a result of exposure to Agent Orange) in 1981 in the Central Higlands province of Kon Tum in Vietnam. Their family lived/ worked on a farm that had been sprayed with Dioxin, a "nuclear herbicide" often referred to as Agent Orange.

After, Viet and Duc were surgically separated in 1988, Duc's health thrived, he attended school, became a computer programmer, a teacher, and advocates for others who suffer from Agent Orange, disabilities, and other human tragedies. Unfortunately, Viet suffered from chronic and debilitating health issues and passed away in 2007.  Duc shares...

"When I lost my brother I was extremely sad, but now I feel like my brother
 is always beside me, and I know I must think positively."

The United States sprayed 12 million gallons of Dioxin on Vietnam in order to "help fight Communism" in the 1960's and 70's. It has been estimated that Agent Orange has caused millions of Vietnamese (and our own Vietnam Veterans) to suffer/ die from cancer, miscarriages, physical disabilities, birth defects, and myriads of other health issues.

Yet, we do not take responsibility for our "weapon of mass destruction".  Duc opines...

"I find it ironic that on one hand you put Saddam Hussein on trial for using biological warfare, 
but in another country where you sprayed chemicals for warfare, you neglect your responsibility.  
The United States must admit its responsibility and compensate the Agent Orange victims in Vietnam. It is your moral obligation...sooner or later, it has to be done!"

In spite of my anger, I find inspiration and hope in Viet and Duc's lives. 

sự bền chí

Making the most out of life, persevering, helping others, strengthening communities, fighting for accessibility, demanding justice, and loving peace...unfortunately, I pale in comparison to Duc. Let's not give up hope and become mired in our anger and bitterness...let's keep "killing jellyfish" and make this world a better place. I only wish our government and the multinational corporations would have the same motivation!

Duc Nguyen and Family

 "We have all had to let go of sad events and try to move forward positively...
I have to help these less fortunate than I and advocate for peace."