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Thu, 25 Jul 2002 13:11:17
I've been thinking too often lately of death, and I'm sorry if I've overburdened you with my sense of horror, of grief, of shock at the ambient violence that always and everywhere surrounds us. It occurred to me recently that perhaps these sensations are the type of thing that one should keep to oneself.
You've, after all, been in the hospital, and unable to respond to these little elegiac epistles. And the truth is that getting no response from you only made me want to write them more, it became a kind of meditation, wiping my tears into the outlook box of my "monitor" and sending them off like koans in a bottle to the person least likely to read and respond.
What is the proper response to any of this?
How could you or I possibly respond in any way that could have an impact?
Perhaps it's best to ignore it.
Most of America can comfortably tune out the news, for instance, that a 43-year old Rabbi was shot dead today in a West Bank settlement, and that this is understood to be the *first* Palestinian response to Tuesday's attack by an F-16 warplane which fired a one-ton guided missile at the house of Shehada, commander of Hamas's military wing, killing him and 14 others, including one militant, four noncombatant adults and nine children. I think that the shock value of the death of children in that far-off land has been minimized. We EXPECT that there will be more killings in response. We EXPECT that many more children will die. We cannot remember the last day in which someone did not die violently in Palestine or Israel. On with the body count.
And for every murderer jailed, there are two more who go on calmly with their lives, another falsely accused, fifteen people arrested for misdemeanor possession of some substance we have made taboo, and thirty more imprisoned for lack of adequate legal representation, economic casualties.
So what happens to the lost souls, to those murdered casually, whose cases are never resolved, who never even make the front-page news?
What about those who are simply lost?
The tabloids scream that police may soon expect a break in the 1996 murder case of the toddler beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, because John and Patsy are breaking up, but one year from now, who will remember Tionda and Diamond Bradley, the ten and three-year-old girls who went to the playground on July 6, 2001 and never came back? After all, they were just black girls in a poor neighborhood, whose mother should never have left them alone.
And then there are those convenient suicides, such as Clifford J. Baxter, the former Enron executive, who quit after blowing the whistle on his friends and colleagues. Baxter's Mercedes-Benz was found one January morning in Dallas, stopped in the middle of a road. Inside, Baxter had a bullet wound to the head and a revolver at his side. Police confirmed that a suicide note was found with his body. In the note, Baxter wrote that he could not stand the pain of the Enron scandal. The autopsy determined that Clifford had shot himself in the side of the head. That is, though he had fully exonerated himself and helped to launch the investigation that would bring down this major energy concern, the pain was too much. Just as the scandal was breaking, his heart broke too. And a man was quietly buried in Texas. We are to believe what we are told.
Power wants to control us. Power is successful. Nothing succeeds like success.
So what becomes of those souls, Berto?
I promise to stop asking you these questions, which no one wants us to answer.