Several Days After Watching “The Pianist”

Images
burned into my retinas

rage and sorrow
still splintering within my rib cage

a dizziness whizzing between grey matter
diving the depths of
human
depravity
and
resilience

limbs heavy with the burden to break
the cycle of centuries

a dry mouth and fingers
weary of words

ears ringing an echo of
Moonlight Sonata

haunted.

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On the murder of and by NYPD

There is nothing that can “justify” murder, there are only things that can *explain* it. Cause-and-effect operates outside of morality. Which is not to say that murder (or any human action) can be boiled down to a single cause but rather that a confluence of circumstances can be understood to have a certain potential to lead to a specific outcome, not unlike the way we understand the physical sciences. For example, different plants grow in different areas of the earth, they require a specific set of ecological circumstances in order to thrive, and changes to the environment consequently change the way plants grow, evolve, or die.

Human behavior is of course more complex, but I believe it still operates under the same basic laws of nature. By extension, I would argue that when you live in society dominated by a tiny minority of wealthy individuals who use murder, torture, exploitation, oppression, deception, etc. as a way to maintain their rule, you can expect to reap all sorts of unhealthy outcomes, including a police force that murders with impunity and individuals who see no other recourse than to murder back.

I do not believe we should seek to justify either side of this cycle of violence; rather, we should seek to expose the underlying causes of violence and move forward with the project of transforming this society into one that is capable of producing good rather than evil. Your individual morality does not change the inherent immorality upon which our current society is based. Only collective action can do that.

Embody

I feel truth in my bones
at the base
of my being.
It boils in the marrow
and bends in the base pairs
of my DNA.
It dances in the vessels
that carry my heartbeat
along an ancient river
of brilliant blue blood.

But it’s only acknowledged
when it spills red
or black-and-white.

External validation.
Human interpretation.

Truth throbs on the tip of my tongue
every second of the day
but only once in a while
does it escape from my lips
onto the contrived soundwaves
projected through my breath.

I can see it in the patterns
branded on my fingertips,
though sometimes it feels like
I’m smothering those swirls
beneath the pounding of frantic keystrokes
desperate to transmit.

There is truth.
There is mind.
There is body
as conduit.

For Gaza

I wept
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.

I wept
as we marched through the streets in protest
and I contemplated the abbreviated life
(twenty-two years)
behind the name I wore around my neck
(Abdelrahman Jamal al-Zamli)
in a noose of remembrance.

I wept
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.

I wept
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.

I wept
and I weep
and I lose sleep
in disbelief at this
avoidable void of humanity.

The Verdict

The jury has spoken.
But what has she said?

She has said that we are a nation of Laws
and that according to those Laws
George Zimmerman is
not guilty.

And thus
she has reminded us that
Law ≠ Justice.

Law is meant to be a tool of Justice.
But when instead it is used as a tool of Tyranny—
when laws are used to exonerate killers
when laws are used to sanctify killing
when laws are used to spy, torture, oppress, and exploit

Then we,
the civilized masses of people being brutalized by this uncivilization
have a duty
to ourselves, to each other, to life itself
to not respect these unjust laws
to instead expose them, resist them, defy them, belie them
to fight until true justice is served.

Because if George Zimmerman is not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin,
then we are.

We as a society are guilty.

Guilty of creating a world where George Zimmermans exist,
where they exist and flourish and get away with murder
every single day.
Guilty of allowing our world to be governed by sociopaths
who pillage the earth and crush human souls
in a parasitic quest for power.
Guilty of betraying our own freedom,
by adoring the chains that keep us bound to our oppressors
and divided from one another.

This is the real verdict,
the one woven in between the delusional lines of the court’s determination
the one hovering above the anguish in the courtroom and on the streets
the one staring us in the face at every crossroad that we refuse to see.

We are guilty.
Sentenced to life in prison.
Of our own volition.

Because we accept this fate
every day that we live our lives
without naming injustice for what it is
without fighting against it with all we have.

Our silence.
Our apathy.
Our ignorance.
Our compliance.
All accessories to our collective murder-suicide.

This is what the jury said today.

©Stavroula Harissis

Freedom: To Oppress and Exploit?

“Not freedom for all, not equality for all, but a fight against the oppressors and exploiters, the abolition of every possible oppression and exploitation–that is our slogan.” -V. I. Lenin

Everyone believes in “freedom” but how many people actually think critically about what that word means? I doubt anyone would advocate ABSOLUTE freedom of the individual, because that would have to include the freedom to murder and rape, which most people agree is unacceptable. But where then do you draw the line?

It was once acceptable to “own” people as property, as slaves. We now see this as abhorrent. Will we eventually realize that the capitalist system of wage slavery is also abhorrent? Should individual human beings have the “freedom” to “own” the resources we ALL need to survive, and to withhold those resources from people based on their ability to “pay” with a currency they “earn” by selling their labor? Is that the highest form of “freedom” our species can envision or attain? I certainly hope not.