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Object Permanence


The Empire marches on. Next stop and drop, Syria. Accomplishing missions.

The top stories on Google News this morning (Monday) are chemical weapons in Syria and Miley Cyrus’s gyrations and crotch grabbing as she performed “We Can’t Stop.” We. Can’t. Stop.

We can’t stop is the order of the day from the commander in chief whose weapon of choice is a drone. And while polling indicates most Americans oppose US military involvement in Syria, they support intervention if there’s proof of chemical weapons use. I’ve read the comment sections beneath mainstream articles to take the nation’s pulse and those chemicals are “game changers”. On and on it goes with WMD propaganda. We can’t stop ‘til we get enough. Never enough.

I’m seeing dead people.

I’m seeing the war profiteers direct their maids to dial down the thermostats as the planet boils, dial up during the bitterly cold winter that’s predicted, unconcerned about climate change, oblivious to the poor and middle class. I’m seeing them limo their way to board a private plane to paradise while there’s still some sand left on beachfront property.

I think of Jean Piaget’s concept, object permanence—a term used to describe a child’s ability to understand that things continue to exist even when out of sight or hearing range. And I consider fellow human beings, maimed by explosives, slaughtered, incinerated by drones, out of sight, unseen by us. That we don’t hear the cries of parents, of children, of spouses, agonized, traumatized by state sanctioned violence.

If CNN, MSNBC, or Fox shows an image of war, a viewer can at any time remote to another graphic, perhaps a Miley Cyrus performance or whatever reality show is seasoned to one’s particular perfection. The child with no limbs is forgotten, object impermanence—yes, an object—just another collateral casualty of the American egomaniacal, imperial, security, blood lusting behemoth.

Monday afternoon, here’s John Kerry’s statement on Syria:

What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality. Let me be clear. The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard, it is inexcusable. And despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable.

Ending with: “President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people.”

What’s undeniable is the hypocrisy. That the US even has a code of morality. Please. Let me be clear. The greatest purveyors of moral obscenity are this country’s leadership for whom there is no accountability, for the huge corporations that influence the broken system that we call a political process. For the manufacturing of weapons almost beyond imagination in their heinousness. And perhaps we’re seeing a calculation—a plan to deflect attention from the NSA’s invasive claims on our privacy. Mission accomplished. And we shouldn’t be surprised by any of this. So inured to it we’ve become.

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email:

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail:

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