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Doing Good

Dispatch from Brooklyn

by MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE

What was I thinking when I agreed to stay in a 13th floor apartment during this month in Brooklyn?

Confession: I dislike … no, that’s minimizing—I’m afraid of heights. I’m trying to overcome this, really trying, to move outside what’s comfortable and challenge the malady of inflexibility that accompanies aging.

There are two balconies. Looking out, up, down, and at the chairs where I could sit if I weren’t a scaredy-cat, I feel breathless, edgy.

I don’t know the husband and wife who call this space home … yet I do. Books are EVERYWHERE, their titles revealing—a glimpse into the psyche. From the entranceway to the living area to the bedrooms, hardbacks and paperbacks populate shelves that line walls. The balconies are bookends.

I spot André Vltchek’s Oceania, The Darker Nations by Vijay Prashad, and Imperial Crusades by Alex Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. It’s friendly here.

Also among the collection are novels, some of which I’ve read and plenty I haven’t. When I walk past, I linger, reaching to touch paper, a jacket, as if I’m in a bookstore—you know, enticed by possibilities, knowledge, adventure. I remove a book and discover another behind it. If only I weren’t pooped. If only I weren’t so pooped by the time I hand over Mr. Pompadour to his eager parents each late afternoon that my mind lacks or just rejects absorbency.

Most of the day, when Mr. Poop-adore’s not napping in his Pack ‘n Play or snug in my arms, he’s riding on my left hip. When he’s zzzzz-ing for an hour or so, I check my computer to see what fresh hell’s raging.

In Gaza, the assault by Israel killed more than 1900 Palestinians, including 437 children. Eighty percent of the dead were civilians. Almost 10,000 were injured.

It’s back to Iraq with the unleashing of airstrikes and now the possibility that ground troops will be required. Oil and blood do mix.

Another warzone is Ferguson, Missouri where an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, was gunned down by a police officer who isn’t being named for his own safety. In 2011, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson was trained in crowd control in … Israel.

Obama made a statement about Brown’s murder, urging discussion “in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.” How can someone with a kill list say this with even a sliver of credibility?

This just in: The organization Anonymous has revealed the police officer’s identity.

Meanwhile, after the latest operation of incremental genocide in Gaza, US politicians are booking flights to Israel to fawn over Benjamin Netanyahu in the interest of vertical career leaps. Gov. Andrew Cuomo received a pat on the back from Netanyahu who said, “I thank you for coming to Israel and standing on the right side of the moral divide.” In an inspired photo op, Cuomo prayed at the Western Wall. The darling of Progressives, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who fled when asked her opinion of Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza, will join a delegation to Israel after the midterm elections.

On Wednesday, Hillary Clinton went to Martha’s Vineyard for a tug of “hugging it out” with Obama. She’s recently criticized his lack of aggression during global crises, saying foreign policy has to go beyond “don’t do stupid stuff.” She’s jabbing. How vile they are. How utterly vile, rope-a-dope-ing for the win.

So, here I am with my son, daughter-in-law, and the baby, and living amid a sea of books in this city I love, too tired to do anything at night except watch really bad Netflix. And I mean really bad. Some character in a really bad series with really bad dialogue quoted W. H. Auden: “Those to whom evil is done do evil in return.” I lay in bed, thinking about Mr. Pomp-amore and all the children, all the little children of the world, and of Auden’s construct. Then, this: Those to whom good is done do good in return. The distillate shouldn’t be what’s received, consideration of the homecoming. We must do good solely because it’s right.

Have to close. Mr. Poop-adore’s waking. Don’t tell him I’m kind of acrophobic. He thinks his grandma’s kickass.

Missy Beattie can be reached at missybeat@gmail.com.