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Au Revoir

Distracted

by MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE

“The world is mourning the passing of Ariel Sharon.” Yes, that’s what I read, and perhaps my reaction is insensitive, especially since I’ve mourned and still mourn with what feels like an evisceration. But this mourning of Sharon by the world seems strange. After all, he was in a coma eight years. Did the world anticipate his recovery, say somewhere during year nine?

Okay, if that’s offensive, allow me to use the Dennis Rodman defense—alcohol. I’ve had a drink. And a half. Maybe if I’d had a glass of water instead of wine, I wouldn’t have this thought about Sharon. Even war criminals leave loved ones.

And you thought I was so busy matchmaking (interfering) I wasn’t paying attention to corporate media distractions.

Like the Chris Christie stuff.

But first Rodman, still dribbling in. He did blame alcohol for a statement he made about Kenneth Bae, the Korea-American Christian missionary and tour operator detained in North Korea for anti-state crimes. Bae probably WAS proselytizing Christianity. That’s what Christian missionaries do. “Be fruitful and multiply” is more than a Biblical directive to procreate. I write that with less than certainty. Who am I to interpret scripture? Who am I to assume I know what Bae did? My proselytizing is in the realm of romance, matchmaking—recently, international match-breaking. Yes, a Chinese couple.

Back story: little dinner party here at my place. The prospective groom’s fiancée was in the guest bathroom—upset, I was told. I went back to offer comfort. The comfort became advice. Later, the young man’s mother took me aside and said, “You told her not to marry our son?”

I said, “We want out children to be happy. If she isn’t, he won’t be either.” As I was thinking, “What the Grandmother Fletcher have I done?”

But I’ve digressed. Really, it would’ve been generous if Rodman had said something on Bae’s behalf—the man’s in poor health—instead of suggesting that Bae deserved his prison sentence. Rodman blamed drinking and stress for his tantrum and then added, “Kenneth Bae did one thing. If you understand what Kenneth Bae did—do you understand what he did in this country?” When asked to clarify, Rodman didn’t.

Last Saturday, I ran early afternoon. When the sky changed, I turned to go home, although not soon enough. I was drenched. Once inside, I heard a roar, then a siren—tornado warning— and looked at my wall of windows. Grabbing my computer, purse, and phone, I called son H to be sure he was safe, then a friend, and went to the hallway, remaining there for 10 minutes before looking out to see if the gods were still angry.

I thought about sounds, those that deliver fear, war sounds—the BOOM of American exceptionalism’s drone attacks that melt wedding parties or fire power that kills a four-year-old Afghan boy. The sound of grief, the wail of fall-to-the-ground pain.

And I wondered about us, as human beings, that we don’t see or hear the agony of a foreign policy that terrorizes without end. I wondered more about making demands and if they’d be met if enough of us made them.

Back to Christie: One day this week I watched a video in which the permanently dazed and baffled Wolf Blitzer interviewed Mayor Mark Sokolich, the target of the Christie administration’s juvenile delinquency. When Sokolich used the word “heinous” to describe “bridgegate,” I winced. I mean think of this word. It’s the adjective that defines war, Jerry Sandusky’s abuse of children, inhumanity. I wondered how people bombed by US Empire would react to this description of a gigantic traffic snarl or the intent behind it—petty political reprisal.

Okay, time to hit the Google, take the pulse, and of course there are a couple of shootings, so violent is our culture that honors the “service” of young men and women trained to murder in our names. On Monday, a man was shot to death in a movie theater—for text messaging. Here’s what clinical psychologist Jeffrey Merin said:

We don’t have the ability to go someplace and be as safe as we once did. There is no escape. There is nothing more that creates fear and anxiety and panic — two things: a lack of predictability and a lack of control. If there is not an ability to escape an area, that’s a lack of control, and you certainly can’t predict what’s going to happen inside.

(People who live in the countries we explode could easily say the same.)

Tuesday, at a New Mexico middle school two students were shot and a seventh grader is in custody. A 20-gauge, sawed off shotgun doesn’t kill people though. Kids do.

Word count’s telling me I should wrap it up, but there’s so much to write. Because I see this in The New York Times and (GASP) it isn’t a diversion. It’s an example of US greed—the Trans-Pacific Partnership, another trade agreement that imperils the environment and exploits the worker class while further enriching the 1%. Be sure to hit the link to Wikileaks.

And there’s this newsy nothing—Obama will restrict the NSA’s penetration of our privacy. Who’d believe that?

Oh, dear, I’m sidetracked. Because I just noticed more on the Hollande thriller. France’s first lady is hospitalized, has been in the hospital since learning of Francois’s affaire sexuelle with Julie Gayet. My help is needed. Should I ask the Chinese couple to provide a recommendation before I book my flight? If you don’t see me for a while, you’ll know the mission’s in the process of being accomplished. Au revoir.

Missy Comely 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: missybeat@gmail.com.