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11 July 2004

The sorrows of the poor

I seem to get an awful lot of my best leads to links from Pete of WWW of Fat Buddha. Catching up on my blog-reading and blogging, both seriously behind due to work stress, mild depression and a few other things on my mind, I found two links that made a connection in my head, even though they were miles apart to the rest of the world. One links to this excellent WaPo article "Hostile Mission for Recruiters", dateline Keyser W. Virgina. This is in the little poor backwoods community from which most of the members of the "notorious 372nd Military Police Company" (think Abu Ghraib) are recruited. You really should read it. And then let me tell you that I was born about 40 miles from that place, and that even though (fortunately for me) I did not grow up there, nor did I grow up in poverty by any definition, I know these places, and these people, and these are nevertheless my roots in a sense. I am still close enough, as a coal-miner's grand-daughter, to know what I escaped. The other link was about the Welsh town of Blaenavon and its attempted renaissance as a literary shangri-la. My maternal/maternal great-grandmother was born there, and died in the little Western Pennsylvania coal-mining town where I was born. When my parents came to visit me in the UK in October 2001 (yes, you read that right, and wasn't that brave of them?) we visited Blaenavon, searching for our roots down in the Big Pit. My mother and I and DH had never been down a mine. My father had briefly followed his father into the mines in Westmoreland County, PA. I think he stuck it for about a month, and then - guess what? That's right, at the age of 18 he joined the military, saw the world, got the he** outta there. And that's why I was not born an earlier version of either Lynndie England or Jessica Lynch. So, I guess the connection, apart from coal mining, is the sad legacy of poverty - violence, ignorance, little people who can be manipulated by big evil. Cannon fodder for the dictators. And so it goes.

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