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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Declaring War

“The Constitution grants Congress the sole power to declare war…. Congress approved its last formal declaration of war during World War II. Since that time it has agreed to resolutions authorizing the use of military force and continues to shape U.S. military policy through appropriations and oversight.”1

Since 1942
our government has decided that
“war”
no longer need be declared.
War is bad.
We are not at war.
We merely “authorize the use of military force.”

And, oh, what force we have authorized!
We, the strongest military on earth,
with nearly 800 bases in over 70 countries2
who spend more on our military than the next 9 nations combined.3

How many millions of
bombs have been dropped
lands leveled
lives tortured, trammeled, taken
in our non-wars?

We are at war.
We have always been at war,
even if we don’t declare it as war
or if we declare it as war on an abstraction.

We are at war.
Not against terrorism
because war is terrorism
and our empire was built on terrorism
and terrorism begets terrorism.

We are at war
with nations,
with humans,
with life itself.

This is not a new war.
It is an escalation of an old war.
And I do not rest assured
by Congress’
oversight.

When you live
in the most powerful country on the planet
whose government designs death with impunity,
it is your duty to speak up for those who
do not live.

It is our duty
to call it what it is
and
declare war.

References

  1. https://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/history/h_multi_sections_and_teasers/WarDeclarationsbyCongress.htm
  2. http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21704817-presence-american-troops-foreign-soil-growing-more-controversial-go-home
  3. https://www.sipri.org/research/armament-and-disarmament/arms-transfers-and-military-spending/military-expenditure

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.

NATO Airstrike Killed 8 Afghan Civilians Yesterday

Eight Afghan civilians—a mother, father, and six children—were killed by a NATO air strike yesterday.

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.

Ignorance is Bliss

Especially when the truth is:

Your government is lying to you.
Your government is stealing from you.
Your government is the most powerful terrorist organization to ever exist.
You are an accomplice to the murder of millions of innocent lives.
Without these deaths, you would not have your comfortable life.
Yes, that is blood money multiplying in your bank account,
an indirect transfer of responsibility for a proportional amount
of the pain and suffering endured by those whose lives were sacrificed
at the altar of man’s most brutal quest for Empire.

Living in the belly of the beast, there’s no reprieve from this.

I know the truth.
So I can never know of bliss.