Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sounds, Harleys, & Protestors

It is unseasonably warm. It rained all day and into the night. I awoke to an uncertain sound, feeling too warm at three in the morning. From an open window, I searched for the cause of the whirring- expecting a machine or a car. It was the sound of water coursing down the hillsides, in a hurry, to the beach. Each raindrop returning to its source. Perhaps we too are like that- living our separate lives but eventually uniting in the end. Mm, all of that water rushing is so loud, but I leave the window open hoping for a reprieve from the still air.

This morning I watched protestors being pepper sprayed by the police on a college campus on It saddened me to see this show of force in America toward protestors kneeling and sitting. Here in Japan, we pass by Japanese men riding Harleys- one even sporting an American flag. Harleys, blue jeans, leather jackets, and boots- all part of the iconic American image of the rebel, loner, going against the grain, against the man.

Passing a Japanese seatbelt trap, the blue clad officers wearing white helmets motion with tommy sticks for drivers to pull off the road. The Japanese police work in teams- a spotter who signals the others which cars to pull over, another motions cars where to park, another interrogates the driver, and another stands back in the distance usually near a police van. From the vantage of a balcony, I once saw a woman beat on the head of her teenage son while an officer wrote her a ticket for a seatbelt infraction- clearly the son had failed to wear his. I thought it was interesting that she resorted to whacking him on the head in front of the officer since I've not seen children even spanked in this country.

Rushing waters, a protest, and a seatbelt trap collide in my thoughts- all that energy draining us of meaning, compelling us to comply. If we have no thoughts of our own, if we only seek to do what is asked of us, if we accept the guidance of our leaders, we risk washing away our own moral sense. Better strap on some cowboy boots and saddle up your Harley, there is something to stand up for even if it is only to say that peaceful protestors have the right to stand their ground without being afflicted with chemicals.

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