The Circle Game

I’m not in Gaza.  I’m not in Israel. I’m certainly not in Iraq.  Or New Orleans.  But I was in DC on 9/11, and I watched the Pentagon burn for several nights, though I didn’t know anyone who died.  I only saw their families’ and Government’s reactions.  And now I am in Jogjakarta, and I’ve finally seen the altered states we enter into when inexplicable pain transforms our relationship with our environment.  Not to say I’ve never grieved or been close to grievers,  but so many — that’s different and informative.  Yuli tracked down a friend of hers from university, and found she’d lost her mother.  An old woman wanted to take us to the spot where they buried her daughter-in-law carrying her first grandchild six months along. We begged out, but her son was nearby, asking someone, more than two weeks after the fact, “Where’s Nia? When does she come back?”  In the days after the quake he had seemed the most together of that area’s victims.  Another resident shows us where the earth opened up, swallowed a river, and ruined any hope their generations-old kampung now has of surviving on their homeland.

 The convoy drives daily, and they see hundreds of victims everyday.  The majority still smile, trying to shake off their personal disaster and ‘soldier’ on.  They take the shovels and clear the homestead.  They team with others and tear down walls anticipating rebuilding.  They may complain about their invisible government, or how little their children now have, but they smile, and somehow I know their families will recover.

 A significant percentage remain visibly stunned, but still functioning.  They walk their children through the rubble, they sit on salvaged couches, beds and balays by the side of the road a few meters from their tents and uncleared land.  They eat, they stare off into the distance, but they are there.  They, too, may still find a path to recovery.

 But the others.  Grief and shock turning to rage and madness.  In Allah and God a possible answer, and this can only be explained as an act of Allah and God.  There is nothing acceptable on which to vent the grief and rage, of which there is so much.  So I have to wonder what any humans think they can gain from committing acts that fuel such emotions?  I used to hear modern poetry about ending the cycles of hatred and war… once in awhile a politician would actually make it into office having talked about these cycles.  But it’s been a long time since that happened anywhere. Instead we only hear reports of humans creating situations like the one I’m living now, and threats to make more of them.  So much ignorance, all over the world.

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