When Nobody Listens
“What was the dream about,” she asked gently.
“It was so simple, really. The whole family was in the living room, talking, laughing, sharing stories. The television was in one corner of the room, but no one was listening.”
“Repeat those last words again.”
“No one was…” My voice cracked. “Listening.”
Nobody ever listens. It became my acceptance speech to life. You dress a certain way for social gatherings. You say all the right things and don’t offer disagreement to opinions. Don’t ever offer disagreement to opinions. So many words laid still and turning to bile from silence.
“Do you know what’s wrong with our economy?” Asked the young man in front of me after a lively discussion surrounding the collapsed real estate market. “The economy in Florida and California are suffering because there are no jobs to be had. The Mexicans have taken them all. Think about it. If we send the Mexicans back home, there will be more jobs for everyone.”
I stifled the answer that I knew would have him climbing down my throat to rip out the voice of dissent. I would have told him, if I thought he might listen, that I believe in Nationalized borders and that we would benefit better by trade agreements and open borders than by separatist thinking and closed policies. He wouldn’t have listened. He was waiting eagerly for a response so he could elaborate more on his hatred. I ignored him.
I’ve met his kind before. There was an argument I used to try and present to the closed borders argument. “My children were born in Mexico. They’re half Mexican.”
“No, that’s different,” they would insist. “Your children were raised in America and they were raised by you. They are natural citizens.”
Technically, Mexico is part of America. Technically, the children are not natural citizens but naturalized ones. Their three and five year old photos look like mug shots on their immigration papers. They have a choice. Although the United States doesn’t recognize dual citizenship, Mexico does. At any time during their lives, they could return to Mexico and claim their citizenship. Technically, even their mother’s status as a compulsory citizen of the United States is questionable. I was born while Alaska was still a territory. Technically, my citizenship is territorial.
For identity purposes, I like to believe I belong to the Republic of Alaska. That is, I feel a close alliance with the environmental aspects, cultural influence and social definitions of my birth place. An entire country separates us from the United States; one of the largest countries in the world. Although our transient population consists mainly of military stationed or job related temporary Continental United States residents, the stable core of generational Alaskan families are a blended mix of European, early United States homesteaders, Japanese, Russian and Alaska’s First People.
Our history is different. The initial exposure of white settlement began with the Russians. They colonized Alaska and claimed its territory under the expansion of Christian rule domination instituted by Peter the Great. Their first industry was the fur trade. The initial legislation for purchase of Alaska was not motivated by the speculation for profit. In fact, when the bill was finally pushed through by William Seward, it was called, “Seward’s folly.” The igniting force was a concern that the Russian Orthodox religion, with its separate seat away from Roman Catholic origins ( which, by the way, all Protestant and Western Bible clutching branches have as a great grandfather) was becoming too powerful a force in the Northern hemisphere and creeping dangerously close to the collective United States. The Monroe Doctrine fueled the fire to save the “heathens” from Constantinople’s corrupt views.
Within one year after its purchase of seven million, two hundred thousand dollars in 1867, The U.S. federal government had doubled its investment through natural resource development; primarily furs and gold. William Seward, who eventually established his place as an anti-slavery activist even though he wasn’t completely looked upon favorably by the Lincoln administration as a Whig gone too liberal, was saved from obscurity because even his opponents had to give way and admit the United States had made a wise investment. To this day, we still have Russian villages. We still have the influence of Russian Orthodox religion within our society. Although the groundwork is as disturbing and filled with as many injustices as any invading culture, as a community, it hasn’t harmed us. We have absorbed it and it has added to our diversity and enriched us.
As a citizen of the Alaskan Republic, my first priority is to the well-being of its indigenous and generational inhabitants. I want the Constituents of my domicile to clearly comprehend the value of their resources within a global economy. I don’t wish to see them sell themselves into slavery for the privilege of resource development. As a citizen with a global consciousness, I’m aware of what Alaska has to offer and how much of a factor it could be in stabilizing the U.S. economy. Realistically, I’m sure we will be exploited.
My oldest brother was talking to me the other day about how my parents’ house and estate were ready to go on the market. This was a decision I had been opposed of from the start, as my parents’ real wishes had been to keep the estate intact, but I had learned a long time ago that my voice didn’t count. The deed was done. A loan had been drawn to improve the condition of the estate and raise its value. My brother wasn’t quite satisfied with the appraisal and said he was going to raise the asking price considerably.
I answered that I would be cautious and watch the economy closely right now as it could follow the depression of the real estate bubble in the Continental U.S., especially as the cost of living was rapidly outstripping the earning wage, or it could open up to more resource development and experience another boom, similar to the pipeline era.
He cut me short, telling me I knew nothing about real estate or the economy. “Alaska is not going to go broke,” he told me with certainty. He went on to point out he had already purchased one house and sold, and now was purchasing another.
I tried to tell him that he had bought and sold a house during affluent times and these were not affluent times, but he wasn’t listening. I reflected as he stormed off, however, that he could be right. Several large gold mines have recently gone into operation after years of dormancy. Pebbles Mine continues to make its plans for the Bristol Bay despite the growing protests over its exploitation. The global summit could decide to use metals as a world currency value, in which case, Alaska would probably experience another boom.
For my own satisfaction, I decided to investigate some of the topics for the global summit. There was considerable address to placing a value on one of the world’s natural resources, but it wasn’t gold or other metals. It was water. According to the report issued at the 2009 Davos World Economic Forum, we are headed toward water bankruptcy. In the United States, a large number of the plants, reservoirs and water pipelines were built fifty to a hundred years ago. More ominously, most of the water aquifers and surface ground water use are contaminated or drying up from years of overuse.
The report states that Americans pay too little for their water. They waste it. They use it to maintain lush lawns, and run it freely from the tap. It lists many ways that water could be saved and programs that could be initiated for more efficient water recovery, but the contention was clear that it would probably not be a voluntary effort that would cause America to begin conserving water. It would have to pay and pay well before it could appreciate the value of this commodity. It seemed kind of cold, kind of cruel. It seemed it was probably necessary when we live in a world where no one is listening.
by Karla Fetrow
“I had a dream,” I told the psychologist frankly, “and I don’t know why it disturbed me, but I sat straight up in bed, sweating and trembling this morning.”