Friday, April 1, 2016

Journal Entry for July 9, 2004: Some Personal Reflections on Doing US Diplomacy

Saw a sight today that hit me in my stomach.  On the side of a road, a women -- she would have been tall if the could stand upright -- walking on her feet and hands.  I see such people every few days, walking through the city on their hands and knees or feet.  It was as if she was a four-legged animal loping along.  She appeared young and two small children were following her.  Her children?  My god, what a story she lives everyday, a story so different from ours, a story of love no doubt, a human story, but one full of things I can only imagine, so many common indignities. 

Last night at bowling, the guy who works there, who's job it is to smile and hover over the patrons, especially the foreigners, approached me.  The sort of person you learn to accept, expect in the Third World.  He had asked me before if he could give me his papers.  Last night he had them, he'd been holding them for me.  I accepted.  Turns out this smiling, inconsequential person was a rebel in Ethiopia for years.  His side won but the faction he was in lost favor.  He was arrested and imprisoned various times and finally had to flee to Sudan.  Lt. Solomon, formerly a major in the new Ethiopian army, demoted before his last arrest.  He has applied for asylum in Sudan and exists with a series of three month passes from the UN while it considers his case.  Been living that way for the last few years.  Now he wants my help.

We are trying to help these people help themselves.  Yet we are dancing with real devils, smiling, courteous killers.  I have gone out on various limbs, am standing on some thin ice.  Sometimes I feel that I've lost my way.

I feel so far from home.  And I worry sometimes that I'll never find it again.  Where can you ever be at home when you see what we have done to ourselves?  But when I do get there, I think I'll stay.  I have asked to stay here, will feel dissed if they don't want me.  But I think I need to get out of here.  If they don't want me, I'll serve it out and leave without regrets. 

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