This was a huge moment.
Illinois is home to another set of family. Before I left I asked mumsie to send me all the contact info for my fams in the US so I could see them when we stopped in their city and I was really looking forward to chatting with my uncle Oscar in Chicago. He works for an organization here that advocates for the rights of the hispanic population in the US. He tells me they are the largest foreign-born population and that all of the hispanic people, including the US-born population, make up 17% of the buying power in the US. I mostly just listened as he had a lot of really awesome things to say. We spoke about personal responsibility and how difficult it is to have some people understand that what is bad for one is bad for all, and vise-versa (in the most general of ways). We talked about the power dynamic in the US and the racial issues here. He explained to me how he see's his work as a military strategy, although he is not militaristic. We started talking about how to organize a community and he blew my mind when he said that the biggest obstacle to getting people involved was the absence of a utopia. People are being told two conflicting ideas about the way life works - first that you need to educate yourself in a prescribed way in order to secure a future (and the huge debt load that comes with it), and second that you need to be content with where you are. You can achieve the dream if you work hard enough because all of the same opportunities exist for everyone equally, but you should be content with your place in society if you don't achieve the dream. Sorry. These are conflicting ideas and dreams are being crushed under the weight of this conflict. If people aren't allowed to dream for themselves, to imagine what a utopia looks like for them, then what are we left with? Here is an interesting thought - what if someones utopia looks like all white people? Are they allowed to dream that AND express it openly? The answer to me is yes because at least then there can be a conversation about it. In our current time there is no way we will all agree with each
other, but if the conversation isn't there then more problems develop. The lines between us get larger and so do the problems. He reenforced a lot of ideas about how I want to approach being a part of a community organization, and I'm happy to know that I have a source of support AND information within my own family. He is inspiring. I have found a new role-model. I have been looking for one for a while, someone who lives currently and is engaged in this kind of work. I'm filled with emotion to know he is within my family.
I just mentioned lines. Every time I cross the border into the US I am smacked in the face with a sense of urgency and stress, and part of my personal trip is to figure out why that is and work past those feelings because I have the 'us vs. them' mentality when it comes to Canada's relationship to the US. I started thinking about why that may be. The media plays a huge role in influencing my thoughts towards a community and it's something I encounter everyday when people discover where I live in Winnipeg. Turns out I have been manipulated too! I have never agreed with borders, or sports teams, religions, political systems or anything else that uses it's power to divide people. These are imaginary lines we create and although they fill people with a sense of pride, the price of that pride is the gross entitlement to feel superior to someone else. I've always thought that I have it better in Canada, and in many ways I do, but that doesn't make me better then people in the US and it doesn't mean that everyone here is gun-loving, christ-worshipping capitalist working to destroy the world. This is where the issue of personal responsibility comes in. If I am not being given the entire picture, if I am only being shown what someone wants to show me, then it is my responsibility, as a member of the global society, to seek of the information I require to develop an opinion on the matter based on as many perspectives as possible. Otherwise, I am ignorant. Ignorance leads to conflict and division. Well, sometimes knowledge can do the same too. In learning about others, I also learn about myself which in turn gives me strength that I can share with others. What a wonderful cycle.
Our show in Chicago was pretty great. I loved how excited my aunt Mayra was to see me play. My cousins were there too and we had a grand old time. My great aunt made us so much food. I love seeing her. She is a stubborn old woman but we get along because somewhere along the way we became able to speak to each other honestly. I can tell her when she is being crotchety and she lets me know when I'm being a dumbass. I thought we had more time in Chicago, but we had to zip over to the next show in Centralia, IL. It's a small town and we were to play a benefit concert for a young women who was in a car accident. Her parents were telling me that the helicopter ride alone was 40, 000$ and that their total bill for her was reaching 100, 000$. That is completely unreasonable. It isn't a choice for a parent, I would imagine, but to have to burden yourself with that kind of debt load surely must affect your relationship with the person who needs treatment. It would take a lot of strength and love to not let it do that. I was hesitant to play that show because there was no pay and we had no merch to sell, but after thinking about my privilege, I thought I was being a dick and so we put on an awesome show for her and her friends. We had a wonderful time.
Here are the last two days in pictures.
Turns out we're invited to a baby shower at the place we're staying at in St. Louis. The guys from Clockwork have put us up and their parents are being super amazing. THERE IS SO MUCH PULLED PORK HERE. Expect to see many pictures of dirty shirts as I am my mothers son.