as names were read at the die-in
each one punctuated by the gong
and the alternating surges
of booming rage and crackling sorrow
trembling through the reader’s voice.
as we marched through the streets in protest
and I contemplated the abbreviated life
behind the name I wore around my neck
(Abdelrahman Jamal al-Zamli)
in a noose of remembrance.
as I read the news of more children slaughtered
in an overcrowded refugee shelter
in the middle of the night
in violation of international law
and of all that is good in this world.
as I felt my heart swell and choke my breath
knowing that the depth of my pain
was but a mere papercut
beside the wounds of survivors
gutted by the anguish
of loved ones obliterated before their eyes
and the terror of not knowing
who will be next.
and I weep
and I lose sleep
in disbelief at this
avoidable void of humanity.
Well, the article says it was yesterday, anyway. But it may as well have been any other day of the week or month or year. It’s not like this is anything new or exceptional. Like always, their names are not reported. History has already indexed them as mere tally marks, etched ever closer together on a crowded death toll. What does the tally even mean anymore? It’s hard for indignation to keep up with this level of continuous atrocity. Tragedy has become the norm. What happens to humanity when inhumanity becomes commonplace?
I have cried so many tears for the victims of our wars in the Middle East. But sometimes I feel numb. I see these headlines and it just feels like déjà vu. Didn’t I already cry for these civilians? Because I do not know any of the individuals. Without names or faces or histories, I can only cry for humanity in general. And there is cause to cry for humanity every single day.
Six children were killed in Afghanistan yesterday. Today, I will imagine names and faces for these children, and have my own moment of silence for their loss.