September 15, 2003
Chris Pforr: former physical therapist at Skagit Valley Hospital and author of 'Hey I'm Outa Here'.
A STREETBUZZ INTERVIEW
"Consider: Are we going to survive 10 more years?"
STREETBUZZ: So, the word on the street is that you're leaving the country.
CHRIS PFORR: Yeah, I quit my job, sold my house, I'm putting all my stuff into a 10x10 storage locker and hitting the road.
STREETBUZZ: OK, so what's up with that?
CHRIS PFORR: Well, it's like I said in my book, I feel this big sense of dread. You know, during 2001 I lived in the Philippines, that was great but then I came back home in 2002 'cuz I figured I'm an American and I should really live in my own country. Try to make it a better place, right? So what's my country been up to since then? Well, we've been buying SUV's at a furious rate; we've adopted a new national security policy that says we can attack anybody we want, any time we want, if they piss us off or don't give us our oil that happens to be lying underneath their country; and then we follow that up with this war against Iraq based on total lies. The war was about oil, about our need to militarize the Persian Gulf in order to ensure the steady flow of petroleum. We're pissing everybody off, and it's clear to me that we're eventually going to pay a price for that. I don't wanna be here when it's time to pay the piper.
STREETBUZZ: What are you suggesting might happen?
CHRIS PFORR: OK, here's an example. Last week in Fallujah, Iraq, those GI's killed the 9 Iraqi policemen in a "friendly fire" incident. The reports are conflicting, it's not really clear what started it, but what is clear is the reaction on the ground. Abdula Abdul Janabi, the imam of the mosque there, said afterwards that "This makes people's hearts boil with fire." That's a pretty heavy statement. Those people do not view us as liberators of their country; they are PISSED!
Contrary to what the Administration was saying before the war, it's now apparent that Iraq was not working with Al-Qaeda, was not sponsoring terrorism, and Saddam had nothing whatsoever to do with the 9/11 attacks. But as many people are commenting, Iraq is indeed now, after the war, becoming a breeding ground for international terrorism. And we are responsible for that happening, it is a direct result of this stupid war and occupation. For sure there are angry young men all over Iraq, and probably all over the Muslim world, sitting around devising strategies for fucking us up. This will be WTC times 10. And no Homeland Security Department is going to stop all of them. We are cooking our own goose.
STREETBUZZ: But surely there's no easy way out now. The United States can't just pack up the humvees and M-1 tanks and soldiers, and leave. What's your solution?
CHRIS PFORR: Solution? Who says there's a solution? Well, there are at least two issues here, first what do we do with Iraq now that it's "ours", and then what do we do about everything else? About Iraq, I don't have any great ideas, except turn it over to the UN, and hope that somehow even at this late moment that the international community can salvage something out of the situation. Iraq is really a huge disaster now, it's going to be a huge international problem for decades, and a very expensive problem too. What's gonna happen? If we really let the Iraqis determine their own future, it obviously won't be a democracy at least in the short term, probably either a dictatorship or more likely an islamic state, but who knows? What do we expect, anyway? The US was a key supporter of Saddam during the 1980's while he was fighting a war with our enemy Iran and consolidating his dictatorship by exterminating the internal opposition. I'm sure he killed all the Iraqi Thomas Jeffersons, and probably with our blessings too. What now? Ya got me.
Then regarding the bigger picture, isn't it kinda hopeless? We, that is the USA, are pretty much the world's biggest drug addict. We are addicted to our role as world superpower, and addicted to consuming these astounding quantities of petroleum, which incidentally doesn't really belong to us, we just siphon it out of other people's wells. Drug addicts will do anything for a fix, right? At this point we'll do anything to maintain our power and assure our oil supplies, and that's a pretty dangerous situation, for us and for the world. So what we need to do here is begin weaning ourselves off the power trip, and use less petroleum. What are the chances of that happening?
STREETBUZZ: You're not very optimistic.
CHRIS PFORR: I'm not well read, but one of my favorite quotes is from Antonio Gramsci: "Pessimism of the mind, optimism of the will." I've got the pessimism down, I wish I could do better with the optimism part.
STREETBUZZ: So you're leaving. What are your plans?
CHRIS PFORR: Well, I hope to get out of here next week, if I can get through the rest of my departure list and finally buy an airplane ticket. Then, let's see, OK, my first stop is definitely the Philippines.
STREETBUZZ: Something about a woman, rumor has it.
CHRIS PFORR: Ana Flores Monceda. Four foot ten, 80 pounds, I met her at National Bookstore at the mall where she was working. She lives in Cebu, where I was over there, and we've been doing this email thing for a year and a half, well almost two years now. So I'll go over and see her and I hope we'll figure out what we're gonna do.
STREETBUZZ: Such as?
CHRIS PFORR: Such as, do I have enough guts to get married? That's what's on the table. I don't know. I always do this. Start off all hot and bothered, then get cold feet and freak out. I'm a major commitment-phobe, I admit I'm a total fuck-up. But this woman, she has really got me hooked, she is really really great. I want to be with her. But being apart for so long, it's not real, it's been a virtual relationship. We gotta see how we do in person again. And then there's the whole context. I'm fifty-two, she's twenty-five; I'm a rich American, she's a poor Filipina. Is that reality?
But maybe the crux of it is the kid thing. She's from the Philippines, so no surprise her thing is to have a family. She wants four kids: two boys and two girls. My max would be one, I think any more than that now is unethical to the earth. But bringing kids into the world at this point? That scares the shit out of me. What kind of future is there for them to look forward to? "Hey, welcome to the planet, oh and by the way, there won't be any oxygen left in 30 years, so could you fix that while you're in high school?" What do we have to offer new members of our species?
STREETBUZZ: How about your friends here in the US? What do they think about all this?
CHRIS PFORR: Well, I feel really really lucky to have my friends. Everybody is being very supportive. You know, when I tell people I'm leaving, I'm always expecting them to be like, "Why are you leaving? Stick around." But it's amazing how many people have said "Wow, take me with you! I wanna leave too." Many, or even most of my friends, feel the same sense of dread too, about the larger world that is. For sure, many of them are very involved trying to stop the madness, some are very dedicated activists. Tonite I was comparing notes with my friend Bea, and we were agreeing that there are so many intelligent, caring people who see what's going on and are resisting. How is it possible that these evil, evil bastards running the country have so much control? How do we stop 'em?
Well, personally I don't see a solution. I've been an activist for twenty years and to my eyes the doomsday clock is at about a quarter to twelve. As the phrase goes, love it or leave it, and I'm voting with my feet.
STREETBUZZ: Well, good luck on your journey. May you find what you're looking for.
CHRIS PFORR: Thank you. For you and all my friends, I'm saying I'll have that grass shack on the beach with the coconuts all ready for when you decide to use the escape pod.
A STREETBUZZ INTERVIEW
Chris can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org