Monday, February 13, 2012

Embroidered: Handkerchief for a Collaboration

I don't consider myself a particularly political person. I vote, and occasionally I'll be moved to contact one of my elected officials over an issue (and occasionally I'll even hear back). I once took my two young boys to my US Rep's daytime "town meeting" so I could add my two cents about health care reform, despite the glarey looks from one woman in particular who seemed to think that even though moms of young children might vote and might have opinions, they shouldn't show up in public unless their kids are sedated or not present. But really, that's about the extent of it as far as public politics. I've never gone out and protested anything. I do have thoughts and opinions, but I tend to try to live what I think in a quiet way, through how I vote and where we send charitable donations, for instance.

When I saw the announcement on Mr. X Stitch about Hanne Bang's new project (either of those links will take you to an explanation), I knew I'd participate. I suppose it's a political statement, but that wasn't my first thought. What I thought was, That is a simple fact of truth.

I have boys. (I know women serve too, but if this country ever re-institutes the draft, I doubt it will include women.) I have boys who race through the house shooting bad guys and tackling each other and pretending to kill. I also have a boy who carefully catches insects in the house and puts them outside; who has broken down over a dead butterfly at the beach; who, that same day, when hundreds of comb jellies had washed up on shore, not only tried to save them but went and told some other kids to stop throwing them around like that! He wants to know why people go to war, why can't they work out their arguments, why do people have to die? (I've told him that a career in the military would not be a good choice for him. He is, at heart, a pacifist.)

I don't know. I can't say no wars are justified, because, well, we live in a world that spawned Hitler. I do wonder why it has to get that far, so often. I have no good answers for my kids. I thought about these things as I stitched, and I thought about how the language of war has infiltrated our language, how we say This means war! or declare a war against this or that or the other. And how that means that someone is going to win, and someone is going to lose, and there is no in-between or room for negotiation, because in a war, someone has to die. Someone has to lose, if we're saying it's war.

So I'm sending my embroidered handkerchief off to Denmark, where hopefully it will be joined with lots more from all over the world and displayed as a reminder of this simple truth. And I'm paying attention to how often I unwittingly use or even think language that sets up that dichotomy of winner and loser because that, at least, is something over which I have control.

The craft-minded details: I ironed a piece of freezer paper to the back of the handkerchief to make it easier to write on (hat doffed to my sister for telling me about that trick), then wrote the phrase in my own handwriting using a washable fabric marker. (I peeled the freezer paper off when I was done writing.) When I finished the embroidery, I sprayed the handkerchief with water to remove the marker. The handkerchief came from my father-in-law.


Donna Lee said...

It reminds me of the old poster (remember Spencer's in the malls with all the blacklights and posters?) that said

What if they gave a war and nobody came?

I think if the draft is reinstated, everyone should be included. Men and Women. I'd rather see it never reinstated but I have strong feelings about equal rights meaning equal responsibilites.

Kim Hambric said...

Wow. What a post.

I am thinking about your boys and about boys in general. About how the desire for war, for competition is innate in most. I'm thinking about how accepted this is in society.

I do think you are right in that if there is a war, women will not be drafted. I admire those women that serve. I admire the men that serve. I do wonder however, the different reasons that men and women have for serving in the military. No doubt there are many that do it for the need to do it -- the need to express the violence inside. For these people, the words "someone has to die," is justification enough.

Anyway . . . just some light thinking for a Monday afternoon.

Heck of a hanky!

Bells said...

Powerful Amy. Well done.