Notes from the Trenches

The ghost of a steam train echoes down my track
It's at the moment bound for nowhere
Just going round and round
Playground kids and creaking swings
Lost laughter in the breeze
I could go on for hours and I probably will
But I'd sooner put some joy back
In this town called malice.
The Jam, "Town Called Malice"

The Village of Eville

Once upon a long lost time, the beauty of life was that we could lead seemingly disconnected lives and remain pretty much oblivious to the evils and ills around the world, except when said ills occasioned and slandered our own idyllic communities.

Before podcasting and RSS feeds and the World Wide Internet and 24/7 TV and radio and telefaxes and wires and foreign affairs newspaper reporting, we could live our small lives with little or no regard to the bigger world around us. I mean, really. We could eat dinner peacefully, without having to see genocide footage, such as the 1994 Rwandan crisis and then having to murmur sympathetically, "how awful" before going back to our steak and potato feasts. If you have yet to see Hotel Rwanda, from which I just lifted the wryest and singularly most powerful quote in the film, or even Blood Diamond, machete open your worldview and make yourself watch these necessary evil flicks that tell haunting tales out of Africa.

Now as much as ignorance is not a justification for oblivious living, it is bliss insofar as its antithesis, knowledge, inevitably entails sorrow and discontent. The more we know, the more we feel compelled to act, even in the face of powerlessness. The more we know, the more we realize how little we know. The more we know, the more we're exposed to the insidiousness of evil. Pundits now label it axis, but the truth of the matter is, we can no more locate and eradicate the central spine of evil than we can pinpoint it's yang, which is good, so pervasive are both.

Guns Before Butter
All this talk of blood and iron
Its the cause of all my shaking
The fatherlands no place to die for
It makes me want to run out shaking
I hear some talk of guns and butter
Thats something we can do without
If men are only blood and iron
O doktor doktor, whats in my shirt?
Gang of Four, "Guns Before Butter"

It's too bad Yale didn't teach GWB about how to use a compass and identify an axis and for that matter, how to play a decent game of chess, at some point during his college years ~ it could have saved this late, great nation a tidy 8 trillion dollars (or 1.6 trillion, if the real costs are to be tallied).

But what's a little loose change, when the big dollars are made for oil slick politicians in 'insider' trading? And for that matter, what are a few scattered skulls and bones between nations and alumni, who apparently learned everything they needed to know about the preservation of secrecy and stealth in university? This above all, to thine own clan be true.

And so it is guns before butter. $200 billion more guns, if you please.

When I heard his little B**sh*t soundbite yesterday, in which he compared the Democratic attempts to pass budget proposals for health care and education ('pet projects' of the Democrats is how he worded it) as "acting like a teenager with a new credit card," I wondered for not an entirely small moment if there really was an axis of evil, and if we were just too busy, distracted and fearfully looking "out there" to plainly see what was in front of our noses the whole time.

Said pissing match reminded me of politics in Pakistan in the 90s, when Sharif's govt. would blame Bhutto's govt., etc, etc., to the extent that the endless row between the two political factions meant no public spending on any projects because inevitably, said projects always happened to be "pet projects" of the other party.

So it's only a little ironic that Bush dares admonish Musharaff for declaring a state of national emergency and continuing to run his quasi-military dictatorship under the auspices of democracy. Only a little. Mostly, it's just sad.

Recent polls suggest that I'm not the only pessimist pissing in the wind. We're all sick and tired ~ well OK, except granny in traffic yesterday who was sporting so many Bush/Cheney and soldier ribbons on her car, it was a wonder she wasn't driving a bloody red campaign caboose (the little engine that couldn't). Unfortunately, most of us, granny included, don't have adequate coverage to cure our sick and tired ailments.

Another recent survey cites 46% of Americans perceive the nation to be in recession. The remaining 51% of the population have their heads up their asses. Heads, they win (or is it their favorite dancing star or Idol that wins? - I get confused these days), tails, we're all losing. Big time.

I'm not even sure history will be any kinder to Holy Hub and I than it will be in glossing over Mr. Bushevik's revolution.

Make it or break it, 07....that we dared buy a house in the United States, regardless of the fact that we chose the stablest of all e-ville markets or so a recent Top 10 list claims - in the penultimate days before the dollar, stock and housing markets tanked.....what the flaming red firetruck were we thinking, over. Oh well, perhaps the tattered scrapbooks and future generations of Schmidts will be kind to us. They will say that we were Redneck Albertans who had the brawn and brass to grasp the big Texas bull by the horns but oops, we slipped and inadvertently made a grab south instead. Schmidt happens, dontcha know.

Axis Malum
And so it would seem evil is all around us, disguised in the unlikeliest places. It hides unsuspectingly between the letters in pleasantville and evangelist, it rubs slant rhyming shoulders with civil, and it dresses up in medieval costume as the party might dictate.

And sometimes, I'll admit, when it mocks most outrageously, I don't feel very Gandhian and non-violent ~ just the opposite. It rears its ugly head and I want nothing more than an eye for an eye, a death for a death.

We're being bombarded in the media lately with what a shapeshifter that Axis of Evil can be - it's everywhere.

Does it posit itself within the stepfather and his friend, who allegedly raped and murdered the nine-year old Missouri girl earlier this month? How can that be so, for they are spineless and their lives should now be deemed worthless. Or perhaps it is connected to the satellite rod that sits atop OJ Simpson's house and empowers him to tower above all laws - right, wrong and otherwise? Or perchance it is alchemic and Frankensteinian and only comes to life in chemical marriage to unfortunate gals named Laci or Stacy Peterson.

I'm not so sure. Today marks the 10th anniversary of the senseless murder (the most oxy of moronic word pairings, I realize) of Reena Virk. Tears gloss my eyes every time I think about this and I'm left grappling with whether evil really does mean "the absence of good," and if justice has a timezone.

On my udder blog, I've latched onto an Anne Frank quote, which I will paste here in its entirety. Anne's world, suffice to say, was neither ignorant nor blissful. She lived long enough to look evil in the eye and then shift her gaze to the idealistic landscape beyond.

"It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever-approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again. . . ."
~ Anne Frank ~

Some make call her utopian outlook, in the face of genocidal slaughter, juvenile, naive; even delusional. Indeed, many claim religion is the ultimate delusion, like an invisible latchhook in the sky that we cling blindly to in times of extreme adversity. And yet I call it brave.

Ignorance is bliss but in the age we live in, it's near extinct. My 10-year old son has begun reading Jane Yolen's Briar Rose, a teen folk tale about the Holocaust and the fine line between Beauty and Ugliness.

Some may claim he's much too young for this book, and they're probably right. But I let him watch Troy last year, so the least I can do is have him read the best re-telling of Sleeping Beauty I know. And considering that our entire filter for the world is apparently firmly affixed by age 9, I'm, arguably, a year too late in having him read this mythical Holocaust book.

Suffice to say, if you have not read this book, you haven't read. Run to your bookstore or your library and read it. Read it and weep, for it is as powerful a narrative of why beautiful poppies dare grow and dance in the wind on battlefields, and why the soft and sometimes too-Frank voices of girls named Anne will always ring louder and more victorious than the Sieg Heil's of misguided fascist armies.

Perhaps there is an ultimate beauty that will triumph over all this worldly ugliness and evil. Perhaps when the curtains close on Act however many thousand or million or infinity we're in now, that tattered ugly, evil drape will finally lift and we will get to see the real show. Until then, the show must go on, even when we wish nothing more than to tune it out.

"History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."
Karl Marx

1 comment:

Natalie said...

Evil is everywhere no matter your zip code.
I just got off the phone with one of (the two) my employees who experienced being robbed at gunpoint a few weeks ago. She called to tell me how she was feeling and that she'd called the provided hotline to speak to a professional counselor. She's not over it and isn't getting over it and she's driving herself crazy in shoulda, woulda, coulda's. We spoke for an hour about how she's feeling and I offered as much advice and listening as possible. I'm still shaken by it and I didn't have a gun stuck in my face.
We talked about a current trend here in ABQ of guys carjacking women, in broad daylight, while they are filling their cars with gas. Scary.
We spoke about the knifing murder that occurred at a store sbux store not two miles from us. This is the same store I trained at and it happened a week after we were robbed. I actually knew the customers (more like I knew their drinks) and remembered what trouble makers they were. That staff witnessed a 19 year old woman get stabbed and bleed to death right in their doorway.
Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India... etc...
Driving the I-40 at 7:30AM.
A Subway shop here on the NW side of town robbed at gunpoint, by the same guy, three times in two weeks.
We watched Blood Diamond and Last King of Scotland, back to back, in the same night.
It's enough to make me want to start a business from home and do all of my transacting via the internet.
But then there's been a huge rash of home invasions by a bunch of "Intervention' wannabees; just looking for a way to crash into your garage or take your life for twenty bucks.
Where can we feel safe and ignore the world? Nowhere.
I'm thinkin' that's because we can no longer ignore it and call it someone else's problem.
Drugs and alcohol... touch all of our lives either by the drama of familial stains or through the violence begetting deal.
The world has gone to hell in a handbasket and we're busy watching reality shows... as if "reality" shows were the better alternative.