“The horror… the horror…”

Demon-in-a-Box-10-21-10_2

Marlon Brando says these words of Joseph Conrad’s, near the dark end of the deeply powerful film Apocalypse Now…

What happened last week in Boston was surely the act of a heart of great darkness.

But an uncomfortable thought still sits with me, even after the death of one, and capture of the other, of the alleged perpetrators… I’m surprised how strongly I’m feeling this – how this Demon In A Box just won’t go away. I want to be filled only with patriotism, and shock, and grief, and – now – some sort of relief. On some level, I am… But not entirely. There is this Demon that will not take its leave of me…

This Demon is the awareness that this kind of thing happens all the time in Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Miserystan, and all over the world. It happens where people gather to pray, and at markets, coffee shops, weddings, funerals, anywhere… Eight-year-old Afghan children are blown to bits in an instant; Pakistani mothers have their arms or legs torn from their bodies by concussive weapons; hundreds of people are killed, or suffer horrendous injuries, with soul-numbing regularity.

And none of them are taken to Mass General, or Brigham and Women’s, or Beth Israel, or any of the other world-class medical facilities that exist in Boston. They simply bleed and die on the streets of their villages… There are no non-stop “special reports,” no massive manhunts, no promises made that those responsible will feel “the full weight of justice.” Their families and loved ones feel only the crushing weight of grief.

And we feel next to nothing.

When this kind of thing happens here, it is an “unspeakable crime against the innocent.” When it happens there, it is “collateral damage” – just another news bite, before dinner. Then, suddenly, we feel the Universe has tilted, and that something has somehow gone horribly “wrong,” when it happens in our front yard, in what has become, for at least a week, our Boston.

It’s horribly wrong when it happens anywhere… That’s the Demon thought that refuses to leave me alone – that the Universe sees no difference between Kabul and Boston, and does not judge the good or evil of any human action on the basis of geography.

This Demon will not let me sit comfortably with the thought that Boston is somehow “different”… That, somehow, bystanders in Boston are more innocent than bystanders in Kabul… And that the perpetrators of such carnage here are more evil than the perpetrators of the same carnage there… Especially if those perpetrators, in some cases, are ourselves.

I think this particular Demon must be my conscience – and today it does not seem willing to be contained.

Carol/Gato

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26 Comments

  1. Carol,
    Nicely put…we talk about this 24-7 when it’s close to home, but I guess that’s how it is in America? The fertilizer factory blew up in Texas during the same time, but that was barely covered. My GF from college lives in Cambridge and that was my only one of 2 connections directly to Boston…they were both OK. I guess what I thought about more was how fragile life is…how it can be changed forever in just a second! And how, thank God, we don’t carry that thought around with us in the forefront of our minds- otherwise how would we ever enjoy the life we have?

    KBella

    Reply
    • Hey, KBella (future Folly Beach citizen),
      This was a hard one to put up… SO not PC! I, too, have friends in Cambridge and Lexington – they’re all fine, but being in city-wide lockdown was awful for all of them. You’re right; we can’t keep this in the front of our heads all the time, but every now and then, we must let it in, and give it a bit of consideration.

      Gato/Carol

      Reply
  2. Deanne

     /  April 20, 2013

    Precisely those same thoughts have been going through my mind Carol. One of these days when we realize that we are all basically one – and what is done to one is done to all…..now wouldn’t that necessitate a huge paradigm shift for the major faith traditions!
    Deanne

    Reply
    • Hi, Deanne – I saw something on TOD today – a photo from Syrian rebels, saying basically what I was saying here: That this happens every day in their home towns.

      Yes; what is done to one is done to all.

      C/Gato

      Reply
  3. Terry Waggle

     /  April 20, 2013

    Carol, How sad that you are so right. I think we feel it so intensely because this is not how America should be but it’s also how the World shouldn’t be. We’ve had a dream, or should I should say many dreams, of equality and justice in our country and hopefully for everyone in every place around the globe. We’re the Pie in the Sky people who have tried to write the book and show the World our dream. There will always be evil in the World is the conclusion I’ve come to. My faith is all I have to fall back on when evil rears its ugly head.
    I too am sad that our attempts to show other countries how to live peaceably turns into bloody battles. We’re not fighting an always recognizable enemy and sometimes the people we think are our friends aren’t. I would rather we led by example and showed the World something so wonderful that they’d be saying, “I gotta get me some of that!”

    Reply
    • Hi, Terry – I’m really moved at how much this has touched so many people. It takes me a long time to get this stuff together… We so often don’t really take responsibility for what we allow to be done in our names. We should, IMHO. Thanks so much for your comments.

      Carol/ Gato

      Reply
  4. Great post. Americans are in denial about this. We ignore the fact that people are getting blown up all over the world, sometimes by our own drones. I love what Deanne said–we are all one, what is done to one is done to all. The world would be a much better place if we understood that and lived life with that in mind.

    Reply
  5. More thanks, mdd… I am really astonished at the replies that are coming in about this. Are only women getting this? I’m waiting for the first guy to weigh in…

    Every Newtown parent knows this pain much more than I can. Dead children are dead children, wherever they are. And every one of their deaths is a wound upon our souls.

    Carol/Gato

    Reply
  6. That Jan

     /  April 20, 2013

    I was thinking much the same, Carol. And then my yoga instructor (OK, I introduce her as my guru…) who is from Boston revealed that her daughter’s friend’s mother lost both of her legs in the explosion by “the finish line”…. I felt a surge of post 9/11 dread and horror again. My guru was wondering how to communicate with her daughter, who kept saying, “Mom, you just don’t realize how terrible it is here.” So then I realized that I don’t even realize how terrible it is anywhere at all. The only thought that keeps me level is the one I saw on the web: there are more good people than bad. There always will be.
    And you are one of them, Carol.

    Reply
    • Hi, That Jan… Yes; your yoga teacher is your guru. i cannot imagine what it is like to lose so much of one’s physical body… The courage it takes to deal with that is beyond my thinking… Or even imagining.

      Yours is the most difficult response I’ve had… And I thank you for sending it. If there’s anything I can do, especially for your daughter’s friend’s mother, please let me know… Maybe many voices can help…

      Carol/Gato

      Reply
  7. As I was calling a friend in Boston to make sure she was OK, I realized I was feeling the same way I did at 9/11: the surreal understanding that something frighteningly bad was happening very close to home, and a clear sense that this is something that happens all over the world all the time. It’s hard to muster flag waving when there is such a weighty counter-balance.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Jen… For this, and for all your beautiful poems. And for reminding me every day or so to just look around myself and see the beauty, and the wonder of our Universe, even as I go to these dark and creepy places…

      Working on Dale’s books helped me to meet my Demons, and know they are not my enemies… They are messengers… I never knew them so well before I worked on that book. And now I love them.

      C/G

      Reply
  8. waialeale

     /  April 21, 2013

    Hi Carol,

    Amen sistah. Once we can get past the numbness, we can all knuckle down and work harder to get this only world of ours in shape to be a better place – everywhere for everyone. Never mind this “American Exceptionalism” stuff. A child bleeding in a street is a child bleeding in a street, Period. An orphan is an orphan. Period. Beyond that, a hungry child is a hungry child. Period. We cannot ignore ignorance wherever we find it.

    Aloha! Namaste. Shalom. Saalam. Peace.

    Auntie Jean

    Reply
    • Dear Auntie Jean – I hope you know how much your support, and that of all the Porch Dwellers I’m honored to know, means to me… HTG, I think of you all when I write this stuff, and I couldn’t do it without you. “Sistah” is the highest accolade I could ever wish to have…

      My dearest Soul Sister in the Universe – her name is Bets – made me do this… And to her I am eternally grateful… She told me there are grandmothers, before I ever knew you were there. They always have been, and you are obviously one of them. And so are M&H, whether they are currently blogging or not. They have thrown out their web, and we are all part of it.

      The spirit in me knows the spirit in you…

      Gato/Carol

      Reply
  9. I’ve got your Demon, and another one too: Plenty of people I know think it’s unpatriotic, “moronic,” or just plain wrong to say anything critical about the official response, or to raise questions about our willingness to obey authority whenever the “T”-word is mentioned. FWIW, I blogged about it here: http://squattersspeakeasy.com/2013/04/20/we-werent-locked-down/

    Women, people of color, poor people — to some degree we’re all used to living with terrorism, whether we call it that or not. Rapists are terrorists in my book: whether we’ve ever been raped or not, we’re aware of the possibility whenever we leave the house. But we leave the house anyway, over and over and over again. 9/11 scared the people who aren’t used to being scared: the affluent white guys who thought they were in control of everything. They freaked out big-time when they realized they weren’t.

    Reply
  10. Angela Liptack

     /  April 21, 2013

    When I create art, part of its purpose is to remind myself of the world as it was created and as we humans have the potential to be in it. I have known some dark places, and none have been as dark as the ones you so eloquently describe that happen daily, around the world–and rarely, but so painfully, in the U.S., in Newtown or Columbine or Boston. A good friend once said that the most important thing we can give people is hope. Those of us who try to capture hope–in a painting, a play, a sonata, a dance–do so because we need to buy a little time away from the dark ourselves. With any luck, if we share our effort, we shine a bit of hope into places that need it. For more on the healing power of beauty in places that need it, see the presentation made by Lily Yeh, artist activist, on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFJkbwFllWY.
    ASL

    Reply
    • Terry Waggle

       /  April 21, 2013

      Angela, That video was so moving, so beautiful. Thank you for sharing it. It’s inspiring to see someone create beauty out of desolation, out of ruined lives. We should all work to plant beauty in the dark places, even if it’s only a playground for inner city kids or a community garden where people can grow good food. This is happening at Kingdom House here in St. Louis. Everyone of us can contribute according to our abilities to make this a better world.

      Reply
  11. lori

     /  April 21, 2013

    Amen Sistar!

    Reply
  12. lori

     /  April 21, 2013

    I shared this with a good friend of mine. He is Syrian. 🙂 i know he will enjoy reading he is not alone in his thoughts.

    Reply
  13. Thank you for speaking this! It touches my heart so deeply. We are all part of the world family and responsible for what is and what will be. In bringing this out we each lend our energy to the changes we want to see! Thanks again for your post!

    Reply
  14. dcg

     /  April 24, 2013

    Good evening, Carol,

    There is clearly something about your posting and every one of the replies from your friends that troubles me. A lot. Not one of you has mentioned the word Islam or the word Muslim. What am I missing? Is it really so hard and so un-PC to pull your heads out of the sand or the clouds and describe with some degree of honesty what is going on here. Is a large portion of the Muslim world not responsible for what happened in Boston a week ago? Look at the media and its coverage of Boston and the world. Is there even one area of killing, of terrorism, of widespread destruction that does not have a connection of some sort with extreme Islam and the Muslim world?

    How can you all manage to avoid raising the issue of jihad and extreme Islam? The world, alas, is not the world that you all would like it to be. Maybe if we could put an end to jihad and Muslim extremists it might be a little better. A lot better, in fact. But all the sweet and flowery postings on this website will never touch what people like those two brothers in Watertown were wedded to doing. You might as well argue that with a little more love and care we could have made civilized decent people out of Mao and Hitler and Stalin and saved the world millions upon millions of killings. Only when you are realistic about the death of an eight-year-old Afghan child or the loss of limbs by a Pakistani mother can you begin to do something about all this.

    But who among you wants to be realistic?

    Reply
    • Hey, dcg – Well… There have been Oklahoma City; Aurora, Colorado; Columbine; Newtown, Connecticut; and Tucson, Arizona, just to mention a few of the better-known slaughters in this country. And not a Muslim to be found, anywhere, connected to any of those incidents, all of which I would describe as acts of terrorism. In all those cases, the perpetrators were young white males. IMHO, one can pretty easily make the case that potential extremists can be identified as easily by age and gender, as they can be by religious faith. In fact, any number of people have taken that position.

      Extreme Christians and extreme “patriots” are every bit as dangerous as extreme Muslims; my point is that extremists of all stripes are treacherous, and always have been. They have burned “witches” alive; picketed the funerals of dead gay soldiers; hung black people from trees; and murdered abortion doctors. And they’ve recently intimidated enough congressmen and women to make sure our good ol’ US of A remains one of the most heavily-armed, and deadliest, nations in the “civilized” world.

      With all due respect, I think recognizing those facts is “realistic.” If the Muslim world has any responsibility for the bombings in Boston, that responsibility is their silence – just as I think our relative silence is at least partially “responsible” when the same kind of things are done in our name, wherever they happen. That was the whole point of this post.

      C/Gato

      Reply
      • Terry Waggle

         /  April 24, 2013

        Carol, I’ve been saying the same thing over and over to anyone who will listen. Some act as if the Muslims invented terrorism and that no Christian would think of visiting such atrocities upon another religious group. You named all the ones I can think of. I can’t believe that Congress has the gall to ignore public sentiment and cozy up to their Sugar Daddies in the NRA. Or actually I can believe it because the NRA has the power and the money to do whatever is in the gun industry’s best interest. Their solution is to push us to the point where every man, woman and child will be totin’ a gun; survival of the fittest.

    • Terry Waggle

       /  April 25, 2013

      Sidney, I just finished eating lunch so didn’t have much stomach for reading this in depth but I’m hanging on to it and I plan to share it with my peeps. I was listening to Laura this morning hyping the library and I felt queasy over that as well. They have a setting where visitors can sit at a desk, receive all the intelligence Dubya got in different situations and decide how to proceed. I guess the only thing missing would be the spoon Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rove used to feed their little man.

      Reply
  15. waialeale

     /  April 28, 2013

    Hi Gato and Friends,

    I have been enjoying your banter over at M&H’s. As an almost Charter Member there from it’s inception, many of the Old Timers already know this about me. But in the interest of full disclosure to some of you I thought I would identify myself more. I am an octogenarian married to another one for 60 years of marital blitz. We’ll get the hang of this marriage thing yet! Takes time. Naturally, I was a child bride.

    I am originally from CO, my husband from NH. We met in TX, were married in CA and made our first home in SC and then started traveling. We have three sons the oldest of two are fraternal twins. The “boys” and their families live in PA and CA. We have three grandkids. Two grandsons are graduating from high school and have both been admitted to prestigious universities. Our beautiful 15 year-old-granddaughter is comin’ up through the ranks. (Proud grandma talking here!)

    I had two careers, sometimes running concurrently. Music first and then research into Physiological Psychology, which encompasses a wide variety of disciplines.

    We have had more than our fair share of advantages starting with being “white” (not counting my Native American Arapahoe Sioux great-grandmother, of whom I am very, very proud.) We both had access to good educations although I must admit we could have studied more and frolicked less. We have also had our share terrible sorrows and made plenty of stupid mistakes. ”C’est la vie”.

    My husband has a laundry list of health problems but they are monitored carefully and are under control. My health is really quite good except for a severe case of spinal stenosis brought on by osteoarthritis. Inoperable. I have it all over; both hands, one hip and both knees. It has slowed me down quite a bit. I can do whatever I want, it just takes me longer. There are plenty of things I don’t want to do anymore anyway. It’s been a while since I did any cartwheels. I get by with Tylenol 2-3 times a day. I need to take frequent breaks for 15-20 minutes at a time so that’s when I get on the computer and chat with my friends or look up stuff.

    After our retirement out here 23 years ago, our passion was Globe Trotting travel. Age and health preclude it now. If I have any agenda at this stage of my life, it is to spread the word about the pitfalls of provincial thinking and the resulting xenophobia. In our travels we have of course encountered some assholes, but by and large the vast, vast majority of people on say, Main Street Bangkok are no different than on Main Street U.S.A. Warm, friendly and caring.

    Aloha! 🙂 Namaste. Shalom. Saalam. Peace.

    Auntie Jean

    Reply

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