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Scripture, Memorials, Lies, Life, and Death Culture

I’m waiting for a call that could be either good or bad news and the longer I wait, the more anxious I become, knowing that the longer I have to wait makes it more likely that the news will not be what I want to hear.  I’ve avoided this particular caring for someone, this caring enough that you engage in exactly this—this worrying and waiting. I should have run when I could’ve although that would have meant choosing solitude.  As a neighbor said about my reluctance to take a chance: “If you want to make an omelet you have to break some eggs.”

I might have answered, “If you want to make love you have to break your heart.”

I’m going to do my usual to rush the clock: listen to music and write. At this moment while writing, I think about people who are much more troubled than I am, because if the specific people I’m considering were worried about what’s bothering me, they also have additional crushing issues gnawing their sanity. I’m thinking about The Talk that black parents must have with their children to keep them safe, safe from racist police officers. I’m thinking about parents of troops deployed to countries the U.S. has invaded. I’m thinking about families who’ve fled countries not because they fear some commitment that might be accompanied by watching the body’s diminishment, but because their lives are in peril, their children’s lives are in peril. I’m thinking about the human beings we call The Other because war wagers hear cha-ching rather than the wail of anguish.

Yesterday I read that Barack Obama consulted scripture when he prepared his tribute to memorialize the officers who were slain in Dallas by a military veteran trained to murder The Other in Afghanistan. Imagine the inconsonance of holding the title of president of the U.S., sifting through scripture one moment for the most appropriate words of comfort, delivering those words to grieving family and friends of the dead, and then on Tuesdays, another sifting, through names and photos—the Kill List. Making a decision to incinerate someone in a drone attack.

I’m thinking, visualizing, pushing away my own small, personal-world angst, to see George Bush. The morning after the officers were killed in Dallas, the former president (who once said it would be easier if he were the dictator) issued a statement: “Laura and I are heartbroken by the heinous acts of violence in our city last night. Murdering the innocent is always evil.” Juxtapose that with this reminder that Bush said God told him to end the tyranny in Iraq and that it was during this ending of tyranny that the tyrant Bush exacted heinous acts of violence, murdering millions of innocents in the carnage he began in Afghanistan after 9/11 with a Terror War based on lies, a crime of mass destruction that continues and has been expanded under the scripture-quoting Obama.

I heard a discussion on NPR yesterday, focusing on the events of the past few weeks. What among the many tragedies was the most important? I answered, speaking to the radio, said they’re connected. The carnage here is the carnage there, a state-sponsored death culture—the distillate of injustice.

He texted. Is being admitted for tests. And it’s too late for me to erect a wall. Give me your tired, your poor, your all, your some. I’m in—in as if there’s no tomorrow, because this is it, life, for now only.

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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

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