I try not to read the news. It almost always makes me sad. The other day I took a risk and decided, for the first time in half a year, to see what was rolling through my twitter feed. I picked up this article from Films For Action because I trust their coverage to be meaningful.
And it made me sad. It made me so, very, very sad.
When I was in high school my grandfather took me to the World Expo in Portugal. We passed through England and Normandy on the way home. He took me to the graveyards from WWII. My older sister went deeper into France to see the trench of bayonettes, an eerie sight where the men were literally buried where they stood in the trench by a nearby explosion, only the tips of their bayonettes, now rusted and crumbled, sticking out of the dirt to mark their graves.
As a college student I went to Hiroshima to see the A-bomb museum. There they have on display melted lunchboxes and pieces of building walls where people’s shadows had been burned into the plaster by the blast. Years later I went to Nagasaki. They have on display intercepted communications between the American war generals, the President, and the Japanese.
The Japanese had already surrendered when the decision to bomb Nagasaki was made. The President was not informed of the decision until after he gave his approval, though. Moreover, he didn’t even know he was approving the bombing of a non-military target.
I remember walking out of the Genbaku Dome in Hiroshima and sobbing. In a courtyard they have a statue of a young girl holding up an origami crane and I sat in the shade next to it and just cried. My heart ached for those people. I read a story about a young boy, maybe he was ten years old, and he was carrying his dead little sister on his back because he didn’t know where to bury her. How can anyone cause such pain? How can anyone with a straight face say that such merciless carnage is necessary? Worth the price? They’re not the ones who have to pay the price!
When I read about the things that people are doing today, I despair. They are murdering the poor and the helpless, and for what? For more power? For more money? For more oil? What could possibly be so important that hundreds of thousands should be sentenced to death? And not just any death, a sly and cunning death of externally fueled civil war. Not only are these people robbed of their lives, but we are robbing them of their spirit and their hope. I can think of no greater evil.
There is a part of me that wants to reach out and hold these people. Every terrorist and every terrorized. There is a part of me who wants to kiss each boy with a gun on his eyelids and tell him that it’s ok to stop fighting. When I heard that the boy who conspired to destroy the legs of all those runners in the Boston Marathon — a crime also clearly intended to steal from people their joy and their spirit — had lost his own brother in stray fire as he tried to escape the police, the part of me that had been angry suddenly became very sad. How lonely he must feel. How confused and overwhelmed. In that moment when he realized his brother would never be with him again, did he regret his actions? In those days following, alone in who knows what prison, hated by all around him, did he despair?
Each and every one of us is a human capable of anger and fear and desperation. It doesn’t matter why we are angry or what we are afraid of, our feeling is the same. And all I can think when I hear of yet another military maneuver in the middle east somewhere is that the only way to have peace is to stop breeding violence. Why doesn’t anyone realize this?
Sometimes I think my heart will explode from all the love and the pain and the fear and the desperation and the sadness. And above all, perhaps from my own impotence to do anything about any of it.