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Jason Robert Mizula
I Love That Dirty Water…
If we're going to become overwhelmed with grief and sadness about what happened at the Boston marathon, while the corporate news stations are propagating fear, teaching us to be suspicious of our neighbor, accept more security cameras all over our cities, and less and less freedom... let the real fear be over the fact that we have been socialized to care only about victims when they share our language and culture, when they look like us, when they share our national identity... and to not care about the countless victims of violence and terror the world over, and those living through far greater violence on a daily basis, often as a result of our own government's actions 'on our behalf'.
If we're going to cry over the loss of innocent lives, of people we never knew, let's ask ourselves why we aren't crying every single day, when a cafe explodes in Baghdad, when a village is leveled by a drone in Yemen, or a school is mistaken for a 'terrorist' headquarters in Pakistan, and wiped off the map. With reports coming out that three people were killed in the bombings in Boston, let’s not forget that we’re losing an average of 22 veterans of our armed forces every single day to suicide, and one active member of our military to suicide every single day.
We may have been shielded from violence for the majority of our lives by the white picket fence and the rest of the American dream ideology. In reality, we live in an extremely violent and unhealthy world, and our government is one of the greatest purveyors of this violence. It has largely been kept out of sight and out of mind, besides September 11th 2001, when the death of 3,000 of our fellow humans shook Americans to their core. Out of that day of violence and terror, grew twelve years of non-stop violence and terror, all supposedly in the name of democracy, of freedom, of peace.
Other than being used to propagate fear in the American public, to train us to say something when we ‘see something’, other than being used as the excuse to begin ‘preemptive’ wars around the globe, and strip countless freedoms that took generations upon generations to secure, we have been living in a bubble, living in a world of illusion, in a world largely free of the violence and terror that has a stranglehold on countless millions of our fellow humans. This is sad, any loss of life is sad. This also hits close to home, with the city of Boston being my home for the past five years, and my home city all my life.
I didn’t know the people killed, and as far as I know, I didn’t know any of the people wounded. I also didn’t know any of the innocent civilians killed or wounded by inhumane violence and terror today in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Yemen, in Syria, in Libya, in Uganda, in the Congo, or any of the innocent civilians killed or wounded by landmines scattered across South East Asia, from the wars of a different generation. I didn’t know any of the victims of domestic violence across America and across the world, I didn’t know any of the victims of gun violence in Chicago, or Los Angeles, or in Mexico, and other parts of Central and South America. I didn’t know any of the people killed or wounded by violence and terror today anywhere in the world, but my emotions didn’t change when I heard that this violence had made its way to Boston.
I didn’t throw my worldview out the window when I heard that violence had reached the presumed safety of the Boston Marathon. I won’t shed any more tears for the innocent lives lost in Boston today, than I do every single day for the innocent lives lost all over the world. We are all connected. We are all one. And until we see this, until we can see that all of humanity is interconnected, and your pain and suffering is my pain and suffering, your joy and happiness is my joy and happiness, when my supposed ‘enemy’ is killed, humanity is weaker for it, until we view the daily deaths of countless Afghan, Pakistani, Yemeni (etc) civilians by our armed drones, the same as we would the deaths of the people at the Boston marathon, and ultimately, the same as the death of our family members, we will never evolve as a species and experience our full potential as human beings.
It shouldn’t matter the city or town that you live in. Someone going to sleep tonight in Cleveland, shouldn’t be thinking, ‘at least it didn’t happen here’. Someone going to sleep tonight in Paris, shouldn’t be thinking ‘at least it wasn’t here.’ Someone going to sleep tonight in Bethlehem shouldn’t be thinking ‘at least it wasn’t me’. Someone going to sleep tonight in Baghdad shouldn’t be thinking, ‘serves them right’. Likewise, we shouldn’t feel that way when we see or hear about violence south of the border, or all across the Middle East, or throughout Africa, or in the housing projects on the edge of town. We are all connected, and when something like this happens in Boston, Cleveland should feel our pain. Paris should feel our pain. Bethlehem should feel our pain. Baghdad should feel our pain.
And as part of humanity, we should and must feel their pain.
When we are indifferent, and sometimes often celebratory to the news of bombs dropping over foreign cities, we shouldn’t expect anything less from the people of those cities when it happens here, though we deserve their solidarity, as they deserve ours. Boston is certainly not new to violence. The ‘city on a hill’ was founded on blood-soaked indigenous land. The parts of the city shackled with extreme poverty, drugs, and the violence that often accompanies it, live with violence on a daily basis. It’s nothing new, but the reason why so many of us are shocked in these situations is, not that it happened, but how it happened, where it happened, and to whom it happened.
People with the luxury to train for and run marathons, are often from more privileged segments of our society, and not exposed to this sort of violence. For a number of the runners from war-torn countries however, this sort of violence is far too familiar. When this sort of violence happens, wherever it happens, we need to feel the pain of the victims, to share in their suffering, their loss, their hurt.
From the far reaches of space, the planet earth looks like a tiny dot. That tiny dot is all of us. Just as our bodies have billions of different things making them run, so too does the earth. We are one, with each other, with the oceans, with the mountains, with the deserts, with the trees, with the sun and the moon and the stars. When you break your toe, your entire body is impacted by it, and doesn’t function the same way that it did before. Instead of thinking of people in whatever country it might be, as ‘Other’, let's instead see them as different parts of the same body that we all share.
What happened at the Boston marathon is sad, and my heart goes out to my native city, but let’s not allow ourselves to shed tears selectively. Let’s not allow ourselves to become enraged when it happens close to home, yet remain indifferent when it happens anywhere else in the world. My heart goes out to the victims in Boston, and to their loved ones, the same as it does to the innocent people being blown to bits as I write this, by our own tax dollars, in OUR name. My heart also goes out to the 22 veterans that will kill themselves today, perhaps for many of the reasons that I’ve mentioned. They got to see humanity, and their hearts ache for it. Their hearts ache because they have learned a hard lesson that we are all indeed one, that we are all humanity, and humanity is all of us, and they see the socialized indifference of their fellow Americans, the alligator tears shed when there is a school shooting, or a bombing in a Western city such as Boston, but the human beings that they crossed paths with aren’t even acknowledged. They see their friends and neighbors living in a world of illusion, in relative peace in a violent world.
Let’s pray for the dead and wounded in Boston, but let’s not forget the dead and wounded from the far more destructive bombings in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Baghdad, and everywhere else throughout the world, throughout the ages, where senseless acts of violence have shed innocent blood. What happened in Boston is terrorism. What we are doing all over the world with our predator drones is terrorism. Our nation’s prison industry is terrorism.
How we treat our poor, our disabled, our sick, our elderly, is terrorism.
The fact that the average number of veteran suicides has steadily increased over the past few years, and the mountains of red tape are getting thicker, that these men and women are feeling evermore hopeless, and the government that our tax dollars fund sits idly by, using band aids where delicate surgery is needed, looking at the symptoms and never the root causes, this is, in my eyes, nothing short of terrorism. The bombings in Boston are sure to have a lengthy life in our national news cycle, reminding us how we felt in the fall of 2001, reminding us that we need to live in fear, that we need to buy more guns and install bigger locks on our doors. Reminding us to say something, when we ‘see something’.
No good tragedy goes unexploited; we will see countless victims, countless residents of Boston, countless ‘man on the street’ interviews, calling for ‘justice’. We will be distracted to the point that our government will most likely try to do something that some of us might otherwise notice. My heart goes out to North Korea. My heart goes out to Iran. My heart goes out to Arabs, who have made for a great scapegoat this past decade. My heart goes out to the Muslim mother shopping at the Whole Foods next to Government Center, afraid once again to wear her hijab. And to the Arab man who will once again be painted as a 'potential threat to our national security' simply for coming from the 'wrong' line of ancestors, at the wrong time in history.
How would we react if it was a neo-nazi, or a member of the tea party, or an anarchist that grew out of the occupy Wall Street movement? Why do we feel different when the newsman says that the suspect was speaking Arabic? Why have we bought into more than a decade of propaganda? and, why did they have to remind us? Why now, is there a renewed need of American patriotism? Are Army recruitment numbers down? Do we have our sights set on dark-skinned Muslims in yet another resource-rich country, so we need to renew fear and hatred towards people who look like them? Did the FBI know about this? Did they plan it and provide funding for it? And if they didn't know about it, are all of the billions that we throw at DHS, DOD, the CIA and FBI, and in militarizing our local police departments, and all the freedom and liberties that we have happily handed over to big brother in the name of security, is all that worth it?
Boston could have installed security cameras every 10 feet, they could have been monitoring the phone calls and emails of everyone in New England, and this would have still happened. Things like this will always happen, no matter how much freedom is taken from us. No matter how many countries we invade and occupy, no matter how much time TSA takes to molest 9 year olds and 90 year olds. The threat isn't some sinister brown man praising Allah, the threat is fear. Will we succumb to fear? Will we give in? Will we believe what we're told to believe?
We will no doubt be led to view the Boston Police department as heroes, forgetting how they treated non-violent protesters, just a little over a year ago, forgetting how they used violence and intimidation and fear to control the non-violent masses. I will never forget the elbow that I took to the face by one Boston cop, and the over thirty hours that I spent behind bars during the two times I was arrested for civil disobedience, rather, for naively thinking that the 1st amendment actually meant something. These men and women aren’t heroes, by their actions in October and December 2011, the majority of the ones that I encountered are cowardly, armed thugs.
I will never forget the decorated Vietnam vet that I saw tackled to the ground, left dazed and bloodied. It wasn't a firefighter that tackled him, that's for sure. The heroes, as with 9/11, are the fire department and the EMS, not the police. Regular, everyday people... the 'common man' like peace activist and Gold Star father Carlos Arredondo, rushing to the rescue in a split second. We take care of each other, it’s our job as humans, and nobody exemplifies this more so than Carlos, someone who saw two sons become casualties of war.
Let’s try not to forget the TRUTH in situations like this. Let’s try not to, for a second time, buy into their fear mongering and color codes and their terror threat warnings. Let's try not to forget how the Boston police department and DHS treated a group of non-violent protesters in the fall of 2011. Let’s not start thinking that they're our friends. Let’s not act any differently when we leave home tomorrow, than we did today. Let’s shed tears and morn, but for the whole of humanity, not for a few people. The few are indeed the whole.
In the words of Led Zeppelin, ‘All are one and one is all. My heart breaks a little bit more today with the loss of life in Boston, since the whole of humanity just got a little weaker. Let’s rise up, let’s not cower in fear. People died today in Boston, hopefully through this tragic loss we can grow, and regain some of our humanity. If we shed tears today, let’s shed them in solidarity with the rest of humanity, mourning their own losses all over the world. Let's not forget the words of FDR, 'The only thing we have to fear is fear itself'.
I will leave you with the words of the late, great Bill Hicks "The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it's very brightly colored, and it's very loud, and it's fun for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, "Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?" And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, "Hey, don't worry; don't be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride." And we … kill those people. "Shut him up! I've got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real." It's just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok … But it doesn't matter, because it's just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace."
I have never read words of truth explaining humanity in it's purest form along with the polarization to it's most horrendous form written so that those who do not understand that when they kill their brothers and sisters that they are only killing themselves may have their closed minds opened, their sleeping being awakened and realize our life flows from the same well spring and our true purpose shares the same goals. Thanks for writing this.
In reply to this post by Activist
Well said man, although it IS a little hard not to think that even though most will have no clue about the "whys", safe in their core belief that "they" hate us for our freedoms, the American people have brought this upon themselves.
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