October 29, 2008
This week for my event analysis I decided to turn off my phone to shed light on the war going on in the Congo. My cell-phone-silence coincided perfectly with the motions of the readings for this Wednesday. All of the readings this week have related to a form of silence or non-action exactly the kind of thing that is going on in the Congo. In Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Hills like White Elephants” the man and the woman are discussing the right action to take in their situation. The woman instead of speaking up for what she wants withdraws herself from the situation and focuses on something else. This is also the case in Emily Dickinson Poem “I heard a Fly Buzz—when I died”, the speaker is focusing on the fly not on dying. In another poem by Emily Dickinson; “I could not stop for Death-“the speaker also deals with the denial of death. “Tell all the truth but tell it slant- -“another poem by Dickinson the truth is distorted like the death poems. In Dickinson last poem “Success is Counted Sweetest” the speaker reflects on how the world views things as better from the outside. All the readings from today can relate to my Congo cell-out because they all show what is going on today in America; of ignoring the Congo, belittle the Congo war, and forgetting to focus on the actual people in the Congo.
For the Congo cell- out my message was; “hey this is Kelly. My phone will be turned off from 12:00pm- 6:00pm to shed light on the brutal war happening in the Congo. I can turn my phone back on at 6:00. The people in the Congo can not. I have a voice.” The people who left me a message that day, did not respond to my message. They responded as though my answer machine was normal. This at fist surprised me, and then I read the readings for class on Wednesday. I found the readings especially Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Hills like Elephants” and Emily Dickinson’s poem “I heard a fly buzz—when I died” shared that same kind of reaction. In both of this writings the characters are dealing with a life changing event (one being death), yet both characters are ignoring the event because it is too hard for them to grasp. People tend to ignore things that are unpleasant and focus on other things; for the characters it was hills that looked like elephants and a fly. Why would we as Americans focus on a war going on in The Congo?
This thought led me to that next set of poems I read by Emily Dickinson. The first was “Because I would not stop for Death—.” In this poem the speaker again will not even think about death, death must come to her. I think there a point in life when we all realize death is coming to us. Maybe that is why we care about the Congo because we share some something with them, pain, suffering, and our own immortally. The second poem was “Tell all the truth but tell it slant- -“ because even though we share all those things with the people in the Congo, we do not want to know those things. We want to be lied to yet still know the truth. This is exactly what the speaker is saying in the poem tell me the truth but in a twisted way. The find poem I looked at was “Success is Counted Sweetest—“ because in the poem the speaker is saying success always feels better for those who don’t have it. Even though we feel for the people in the Congo, we will never experience what they feel. I can always turn my cell on at the end of the day. Success is already sweet for me.
Not all Americans know about the Congo because not all Americans want to face death. The poems today shade light on the fact the people tend to run from uncomfortable situations. As a Jesuit institute, we are taught not to run from death but to help those in need. We are taught action and service to form a community above all.