FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Massacres

Five hours into the ferry ride from Athens to Santorini, the passenger about four feet from me groaned and then vomited into a shopping bag. Twice.

I’ve told you I have motion sickness. I’ve also told you that my son H arranged this travel adventure.

“Mom, the ferry ride isn’t long—about five or six hours.” We’re ferrying now. (Turns out it’s almost eight hours.) And I realize that an assessment of time’s duration, measured in hours, days, even centuries, often depends on the definition of “about”.

One afternoon, we walked the alleys that separate small houses tucked in the hillside. Winding upward through a maze of passageways, we ascended to see the Acropolis. “Follow the fence,” another tourist directed. There was no fence, only a wall and narrow, cobblestone thruways. Determined, we did it. And once there, we looked down at the city, across at Mt. Likavitos and an area where sea and sky merge.

Next day, we headed to Likavitos, negotiating the seemingly endless steps to the gift shop where we could purchase tickets for the tram that would take us to the mountain’s apex. My friend at home who’s from Greece, had emailed, “Take the funicular to the top.” Instead, we climbed. And climbed. And climbed—for a spectacular view of Athens, this city where so many former affluent areas have been transformed by the economic collapse.

This is the birthplace of democracy, of Socrates, so many philosophers, the cradle of Western Civilization. Its history and antiquities are breathtaking but the solution to Greece’s financial problems, a brutal austerity program, has failed.

Anyway, we’ve left Athens and now, aboard the ferry, V and I are seasick, like the man nearby. A woman is sniffing, her head down, a box of tissue at her fingertips. Someone coughs. H, V, and I look at each other. Ebola in the U.S. is among the top stories, thanks to massive incompetence in Texas.

I don’t blame Thomas Duncan for leaving Liberia, where hospitals are overflowing, where patients are turned away, or packed and stacked, left to die, or walking out the doors because the medical staff has died or fled. I think about the ripples. A man boards a plane, has a couple of layovers, and a virus that splashes and splatters, may then occupy another host. I visualize movie scenes, books—Hot Zone, based on that terrifying book, and Contagion, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, which I didn’t see but know about, maybe, from a trailer. I recall that there’s a lottery for a vaccine. We know if this became the reality—a vaccine in short supply—there could be a lottery, and like elections, a farce. Draw a number or vote, inhale and exhale hope, wait. The filthy wealthy become filthy wealthier while the majority face continued inequality, either running in place or backwards. On and on, fever, chills, blood, sweat, tears, diarrhea, vomit, an invasion that would slam life against death, death against life, like war.

It’s brief, our time on this planet. Events that occurred only 50 years ago may seem ancient. Something that shatters the heart, like the loss of a child or spouse, may feel as if it happened yesterday. May feel always as if it happened yesterday.

For several weeks now, H, V, and I have stared at paintings, sculpture, and ruins. It’s difficult to comprehend one’s lifetime much less thousands of years. And learn from it.

While waiting to enter a museum, we’ve engaged in conversations. “Where are you from?” we’ve been asked many times.” Trish from Australia commented on the U.S.’s foreign policy, its effect on the foreign policies of other countries, shaking her head, an opportunity for me to say that our “representative” government doesn’t hear the people’s voice and that corporate media outlets deliver either entertainment, like celebrity weddings, or frightening narratives to scare us into obedience, like the ISIS beheadings.

The war that was supposed to end war wasn’t so long ago, yet we’re now in the long war, invading seven countries in 13 years, catastrophes that have and will continue to blow back wave after wave of hatred as friends, relatives, countrymen and women of the maimed and dead call for vengeance.

Even more I realize that we’re specks. Some of us are just more fortunate specks. I’m not traveling with a heavy backpack because I’m a refugee, displaced, fleeing war. I may be fleeing something, but it’s not danger. I think about this and have no answers. I used to believe enough of us could do something to effect change, to bring peace. But I’ve looked at depictions of battles, paintings titled Massacre of the Innocents, and I shudder at how violent we are and always have been.

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

More articles by:

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: missybeat@gmail.com

July 19, 2018
Rajai R. Masri
The West’s Potential Symbiotic Contributions to Freeing a Closed Muslim Mind
Jennifer Matsui
The Blue Pill Presidency
Ryan LaMothe
The Moral and Spiritual Bankruptcy of White Evangelicals
Paul Tritschler
Negative Capability: a Force for Change?
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: ‘Social Dialogue’ Reform Frustrations
Rev. William Alberts
A Well-Kept United Methodist Church Secret
Raouf Halaby
Joseph Harsch, Robert Fisk, Franklin Lamb: Three of the Very Best
George Ochenski
He Speaks From Experience: Max Baucus on “Squandered Leadership”
Ted Rall
Right Now, It Looks Like Trump Will Win in 2020
David Swanson
The Intelligence Community Is Neither
Andrew Moss
Chaos or Community in Immigration Policy
Kim Scipes
Where Do We Go From Here? How Do We Get There?
July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail