Sunday, November 15, 2015

Rooney Mara. South Sudan's hope survives year-old war. CNN. 15 Dec 2014.

A year ago, war broke out in the world's newest nation, South Sudan
Rooney Mara says war has ravaged nation but its people retain hope
Mara: U.S. is looked to as a nation that could be key in pushing for peace

Editor's note: Actress Rooney Mara is a global ambassador for Oxfam, an international relief and development organization, and has made three trips to South Sudan. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.
(CNN) -- When most people think of South Sudan, if they think of it at all, they imagine poverty and war. They imagine a world and people that are far removed from the everyday life that most of us reading this are lucky enough to enjoy. But that was not my experience in the world's youngest nation.
What I saw on my three trips through South Sudan were people just like you and me. People with desires and needs. People in love. Mothers and fathers. Sisters and brothers. Friends and enemies. People with resilience, determination. But above all -- hope.
A year ago Monday, conflict again erupted in South Sudan. Since then, thousands of people have been killed, nearly 2 million people have been forced to flee their homes, and 6 million South Sudanese -- almost half the country -- have found themselves in desperate need of aid.
Last week, as I traveled through Mingkaman, a small village in South Sudan's Lakes state, with the aid organization Oxfam, I met people whose lives have been turned upside down by conflict over the last year, but who still haven't lost their belief that things can get better.
At a camp for people who had crossed the Nile to escape the violence that destroyed their homes, a middle-aged Dinka man, who was easily 7 feet tall, told me that armed men had stolen all of his cows -- his main source of income. When I offered my sympathy for his loss, he smiled and said, "Don't worry, I will get more cows."
Indeed, much of the story of South Sudan is a story of hope. When the country gained independence in 2011 after more than half a century of war, people danced and cried with joy in the streets as they looked forward to a future of peace and development.

CNN Photos: A nation on the brink of an abyss
Hundreds killed in South Sudan massacre
Kerry pushes for peace in South Sudan

Through the valiant efforts of the South Sudanese people and support from the international community and organizations like Oxfam, things were getting better. New roads were paved, communities without access to clean water saw wells drilled, and violence was drastically reduced. Tens of thousands of young girls were receiving education for the first time. Things were changing for the better.
But then last December, a power struggle between the country's president and vice president turned violent and led to a skirmish between some of their supporters that has wreaked havoc across the country.
Church leaders and civil society groups have appealed for peace and reconciliation. People I met are opposed to -- and terrified by -- what's happening. But as the summer's rains have ended and the roads are once again passable, the fighting has resumed and is likely to get worse in the coming weeks.
Although the conflict has taken on an ethnic tone, people I spoke with were at pains to tell me that this wasn't a conflict between the Dinka and Nuer tribes, who have lived together, worked together, and intermarried for generations. Standing in the midst of rows of newly planted tomatoes, one Dinka man took a break from weeding to tell me that he believed in a peaceful future for South Sudan -- but not without greater action from the international community.
"When you have problems within your family," he told me, "you sometimes can't solve it yourself; you need someone from outside to come in and help you reconcile." His words were echoed by so many South Sudanese I spoke with, who highlighted the special role of the United States in helping the country achieve peace and gain its independence, and asked for America's assistance again now.
As we mark one year since the start of this terrible conflict, we have to do more to support South Sudanese peacemakers and pressure the country's leaders to stop fighting. The resilience of the people of South Sudan can only go so far without a political solution to this conflict.
Even now when I think of South Sudan, I don't think of war. I don't think of poverty and children with AK-47s. All of this exists within the country, but I think of the confident cattle herder who believes he will regain his lost cows, even in the face of such despair. I think of the many pregnant young women I met, who were excited for their future and the future of their children, hoping that it would include peace and a chance for a good education.
But most of all I think about the many incredible people I met who have lost everything they have in the world, but still manage to keep going and keep hoping for peace. It is for those people that the U.S. must act to keep that hope alive.

William James. Letter to Théodore Flournoy. 28 Sep 1909. The Letters of William James, vol. 2. Atlantic Monthly Press. 1920.

  I hope that Freud and his pupils will push their Ideas to their utmost limits, so that we may learn what they are. They can’t fail to throw light on Human Nature, but I confess that he made on me personally the impression of a man obsessed with fixed ideas. [Or arrogant, like Steven Pinker & Richard Dawkins.] I can make nothing in my own case with his dream Theories, and obviously “symbolism” is a most dangerous Method.

Phi-Lip Roth. Portnoy’s Complaint. Paragraphs pertaining to the ritual during bowel movement. Library of America. 2005.

Once a month my father took me with him down to the shvitz bath, there to endeavor to demolish – with the steam, and a rubdown, and a long deep sleep – the pyramid of aggravation he has built himself into during the previous weeks of work. Our street clothes we lock away in the dormitory on the top floor. On rows of iron cots running perpendicular to the lockers, the men who have already been through the ringer down below are flung out beneath white sheets like the fatalities of a violent catastrophe. If it were not for the abrupt thunderclap of a fart, or the snores sporadically shooting up around me like machine-gun fire, I would believe we were in a morgue, and for some strange reason undressing in front of the dead. I do not look at the bodies, but like a mouse hop frantically about on my toes, trying to clear my feet of my undershots before anybody can peek inside, where, to my chagrin, to my bafflement, to my mortification, I always discover in the bottommost seam a pale and wispy brushstroke of my shit. Oh, Doctor, I wipe and I wipe and I wipe, I spend as much time wiping as I do crapping, maybe even more. I use toilet paper like it grew on tress – so says my envious father – I wipe until that little orifice of mine is red as a raspberry; but still, much as I would like to please my mother by dropping into her laundry hamper at the end of each day jockey shorts such as might have encased the asshole of an angel, I deliver forth instead (deliberately, Herr Doctor? – or just inevitably?) the fetid little drawers of a boy.

Bowel Disruption, Example. Flynt Leverett. DN. 13 Jul 2015.

Goodman: The Republican majority is expected to vote against the deal and to try to convince at least 12 Democrats to join their ranks in an attempt to defeat a presidential veto. Flynt Leverett, explain what has to happen in the United States for the U.S. to approve this. What is the voting that will take place.
Leverett: Yes. Both houses of Congress will have 60 days to review the agreement once it’s finalized. I think it is quite possible, if not likely, that a simple majority of members in each house will vote a so-called resolution of disapproval in regard to the agreement. At that point, President Obama has said that he would veto those resolutions of disapproval. And at this point, the White House seems pretty confident that they have the votes, at least in the Senate, and perhaps in the House, as well, to sustain President Obama’s veto. So, they are confident that if you can get to an agreement here in Vienna, that it will ultimately get through the congressional review process and will go into effect. But obviously, during the next—you know, the 60 days following a conclusion of an agreement, the Israelis, the Saudis, their friends and allies in the American political system, others who don’t want to see this agreement go forward are going to be working very hard, trying to turn public opinion against the deal and trying to build congressional support to maximize the vote against the deal. [Fart of Leverett] Public opinion polls would show that Americans are open to supporting this deal, but one of the things I really worry about is that President Obama himself has not really made the strategic case for why doing this deal and for why building a different kind of relationship with Iran is so strongly in America’s interest. He either talks about this as a kind of narrow arms control agreement, but Iran is still this very bad actor, or he talks about it in terms of it being an opportunity for Iran to rejoin the international community, as he puts it. This is not the way to sell this deal to Americans. Americans understand that what the United States has been doing in the Middle East for the last decade and a half has actually been profoundly against American interests. It’s also been very damaging to Middle Easterners. But it has been profoundly damaging to America’s position in this critical part of the world and globally. President Obama has a chance here to begin to turn that around and put U.S. policy toward the Middle East on a more different and more productive trajectory, but he is going to have to make the strategic case—