"Stayin Alive!" CPT O-Town strikes the pose. I didn't realize when I took this shot how symbolic the gesture was.
I had two more great pics of Iraqi friends, some made famous by recent documentaries. I just cut them, before publishing. I'd love to show them to you, but can't in good conscience. They're great people. But I can't do anything to jeopardize their lives more than they already are. A District chairman was murdered today, and three of his cohorts on the council were abducted.
"To what end?" I ask myself over and over. I remember the first time I asked myself that question - it was almost ten years ago when I was reading a Time Magazine piece on the civil war in Algeria. There was a picture of a six-year old boy with his throat slit and hung from the drop-bucket in a well. Nazis wanted to kill Jews, but they did it behind closed doors, for the most part. The Khmer Rouge killed people for the crime of being literate. Commies terrorized and labotomized in every corner of the earth. But killing an un-formed child, a mass of clay, a native son - not an "other" - and making a display case of your barbarity with his body - is a new rubicon we've crossed, I feel. Its an assault on hope, and faith in humanity. Every evil we've faced down in our history reached out with its forked tongue to the youth. Evil's not that stupid.
But perhaps this is the unvarnished, unmitigated, un-diluted variety. A rarity? This is the devourer of humankind, and the only place I find reference to it - is in the midlle east. And in - the Bible.
"To what end?" What kind of "new order" can you build on that much wanton cruelty and un-tempered barbarity? What "social order" do you hope to build on the backs of children slaughtered with less conscientiousness than a goat?
It took me awhile to work it out, and I understood why after September 11. When the planes hit those towers, my imagination ran through all kinds of ridiculous scenarios. I simply didn't - COULDN'T - comprehend what I was watching. (Like so many of you, no doubt). Its almost appaling, looking back at my initial impressions. Because I had not grasped the imagination of the killers. I had nothing in my background to aid me in understanding. No wisdom, or experience to aid comprehension. I don't devote any time or thought in my life to the depth of evil and its manifestations. The "Problem of evil" maybe, "serial killers" twisted sociopathy perhaps - but nothing on this scale. Nothing this pure, 200 proof. I think I'd go manic depressive if I did. It was so beneath bearing the thought, so far beneath my appraisal of evil in the world, so beneath contempt.
Its purpose is fear, and the will to power. Its means are atrocity. Its end is supremacy. There are no universal truths, they believe, no transcendant morality - if they can kill, conquer or cow all those who espouse those ideas. It's worked like gangbusters in the Middle-east for well on 1300 years now, and like everything else in our world, in our time, from SARS to Dell Computers to Latin Hip-Hop - its going global. ("Jihadism" is most definitely a pathogen - like AIDS or Avian flu. My intent here is not to liken Zarqawi to "Inspirons", or "Daddy Yankee".)
Sorry, the purpose of this post was not to veer so far off on a tangent. The purpose is to acclaim "friends", and wonder what we'd do without them.
Sunlight, and friends. The human mind is hard-wired to depend on them.