Sunday, May 05, 2013


Yesterday was the anniversary of the Kent State shooting in which Allison Krause was killed. Allison had graduated from my high school the year before I started there. I didn't know her but many people who did were still there. Shock and grief filled the halls. A huge fight broke out around the flag pole because some students had lowered the flag to half mast and others were trying to raise it again.
The word straight was used to describe people who went along with established social structures. The rest of us were hippies. I remember wandering into the battle and being hit by accident but after too much time in an MFA program I question whether my memories have been twisted by the need for drama. I do have a few very clear memories. I remember a young man, a hippie, with a wild Afro in blue jeans and a t-shirt and I remember another young man with short blond hair and a button up shirt. He was a football player who was dating a cheerleader. In any other school he would have ruled. In fact he may have been a prom king. Hippies didn't go to the prom.
In many ways that day shaped who I became. My belief in my country and its institutions was crushed. If the national guard could shoot an unarmed student at the college in which she was an honor student how could they be trusted? You didn't have to know Allison for her death to have that effect. You didn't even need to be a student at her high school. You were part of a generation. And we no longer believed.
Of course the blond kid was also part of my generation. I wonder what happened to him.
There's a Facebook group for my high school and there was some talk about Allison yesterday. Three other students were shot and killed that day. Three other high school student bodies. As a generation we are credited with lots of social awareness. But I'm not sure anymore. What did we do?
I'm reading Twilight of the Elites It's great thinking but as I was reading last night I was thinking about Allison and a fight around a flag pole. I feel like we're still having that same fight around that same flag. Things feel so broken.
I have genuine affection for Obama. I'd vote for him again if I could. Drones. Guantanamo. Education policy. Yeah. I know. But I stopped believing in institutions a long time ago. I don't think there's much good that will come from inside the Beltway. I guess I just feel better with someone who at least articulates values that I share.  
There's a very good thing happening in my life but I'm dealing with a lot of self recrimination as well. Questioning how and why I got where I am. Feeling wrong. But I remember that day. I remember that young woman who I never ever knew. I remember feeling like I was waking up. And many of the values developed during that time are the ones I still hold dear.
We weren't the first generation to want social justice.
I know we won't be the last.