Monday, July 25, 2005

It turns out that the man the police shot in London was a Brazilian citizen. Since the news of the shooting I have not been able to stop thinking about it. The descriptions of a cornered fox. The immediacy of five shots fired. I hesitate in judging anyone let alone a recently terrorized city on high alert but there is a brutality, an efficient brutality to what happened. Even before we found out he was a Brazilian citizen, you could hear the world inhaling its breath sharply in anticipation.

Strange week, last week. New books about Rwanda are being released. Most shockingly or I should say the most resonant with me is Machete Season, in which journalist Jean Hatzfield interviews Hutus years after the genocide . It brings to mind something that often escapes public discourse, the often more mundane and less alluring and news-worthy details. All I can do is quote an excerpt from the book taken from salon:

Many men insisted that this life -- the one where they woke up and killed people all day -- was a better one. "Man can get used to killing, if he kills on and on," said Alphonse. Fulgence went one step further: "The more we saw people die, the less we thought about their lives, the less we talked about their deaths. And the more we got used to enjoying it."

Both the first event in London and the events in Rwanda and currently in Darfur and in unnamed places all over world stir in me the bewilderment over motivation and the cry for humanity or at least, mercy, sympathy. Some of those answers aren't black and white. They are not even shades recognizable to me but the forcefulness of belief, of anyone's belief that doesn't parallel one's own is often incomprehensible. Then your eyes lower and you slowly enter worlds, different worlds. I use the word mundane and I do not use it lightly. I don't use it as slander or disrespect to the ever watching ghosts. But mundane suggests motivations and actions that people aren't willing to accept because they are, how do you say this.....I don't know how you say it. I don't. How do you create a dialogue based on the fact that men gathered together to kill their neighbors and it became community building and a new, richer way of life? How do you condemn them while struggling to understand, no - to empathize - because then you will truly understand. And then will you really? Can you understand the motivation of a policeman who shoots five rounds into an unarmed civilian because the anger in him and the threat of his daily life (or what else was going on in him?)? He acted in a brutal but human (?) way that many world neighbors could identify with? Did this make him savage?? Across the ocean a ghost is carrying a machete and pointing to the policeman and his country with the distinct African edged sword of a look that says. "Yes?"

I feel I am typing this wholly unprepared for this weight and dialogue. That is all I will say for now. Please forgive me for leaving it hanging like that.


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