Parties to Genocide

“Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living
in better conditions.”


One would think that that a certain troubled country seeking absolute security from the possibility of a terrorist attack – by trashing its constitution and giving its president the power to execute at will, breaking its own laws with illegal wars and the use of torture, abandoning all but the pretense of protecting civil liberties and human rights – that such a country would at least have found a modicum of hard-security peace. In fact, of course, like anaphylactic shock, this country’s overreaction to the tragic lashing out of a few individuals driven to desperation by yes, this same country’s previous intrusive overreactions (in supporting dictators, despots, thugs, etc.) has simply ramped up the level of carnage and extremism: all in support of yet higher levels of feedback-howl paranoia.

And all along a real enemy has been attacking the “Homeland” and the world. Meeting very little resistance, its threat and power grow daily. It is an enemy fueled, as the early mujahedin were (and present day extremists are via our oil-gluttony supported Saudi allies), by none other than us. It has hit New York and set it reeling, dried up the Midwest and destroyed our food crops, is in the process of wiping out the great western forests and making already scarce water resources even harder to come by. It is killing life in the oceans and drying up the grasslands. It leaves behind deserts where there was once green. Perhaps if we had called it “Al Qlimate Changea” and allowed the CIA to be advisers to a few propagandistic, self ennobling movies, while the government forked over mega-pork for the massive build up of a Department of Climate Mitigation and Adaptation, we could have gotten the fiscal barons who really seem to run the country on board for a little patriotic resistance.

But to put this in a different way: we were all brought up to think that had we been Germans back in those dark days, we would never have become Nazis, we would never have willingly participated in the Holocaust. We all think, those who have thought about it, that we would never have been one of those Turks murdering Armenians, that we would never have been one of those Red Guards forcing a monk to kill his own Tibetan Buddhist teacher, that we never would have been one of those Hutus hacking their Tutsi neighbors to death with a machete. No, we can confidently feel in our most self-righteous heart of hearts, that we would never have been of that ilk: this despite the fact that we are much worse. We are complicit, now, willingly, knowingly complicit in a genocide and an ecocide orders of magnitude worse than the horrors mentioned. There was an excellent report out not long ago making the case that, “A combined climate-carbon crisis is estimated to claim 100 million lives between now and the end of the next decade.” 100 million lives. Between now and the end of the next decade. And we do nothing. We do worse than nothing. We live in such a way as to make it worse. This despite the fact that we know what to do, and we are capable of doing what needs to be done.

I do not know if our government will ever wean itself of its generals and its death machines. I do not know if its wealthy elites will ever realize that there is very little profit to be made in environmental collapse. I do not know if its religious conservatives will be “born-again” to the need to be pro-life for all life on this small magically interconnected planet. But I do know that the time is now for each of us to stand up, and be counted either as moral, or not.

Sometimes it is hard to marshal words in such a way as to have them do justice to the justice that needs to be done. This is such a time. It is not the paucity of sense-making words that is the problem, it is the plethora of all the words and images and quotidian concerns that make us forget the simple and sensible and essential things, which are also there, clearly explained, but crowded out by the noise of seeming plenty. I would almost, instead of saying even this, say anti-words if I could, words that would soak up all the babble around them, and make a space of silence for real thought to arise again, real thought arising as it does as much from the heart as the head. But that I cannot do. It seems that only tragedy, ever greater levels of tragedy relatively speaking, has that awful magic now.

“Time is a factory where everyone slaves away earning enough love to break their own chains.”