Buried Alive

Any sense of stability one may have these days is illusory, a fleeting equilibrium between forces spiraling out of control offset by others going down the drain. How long will it hold? The poles are already melting. The global ecosystem is already collapsing. Sometimes it’s best to watch a movie.

I saw a profoundly disturbing one the other night. I won’t disclose the title, but it involved a sociopath who decided to murder an innocent, random person in the most cruel manner he could devise. And what did he imagine would be the most cruel way to kill someone? After some consideration, he concluded that it would be by burying someone alive, alive and awake and aware that they were buried alive, slowly asphyxiating. It was a nightmarish, anxiety-inducing film, but then it was over. The credits rolled.

The next thing I knew I was watching the news. And what did I see? Across the planet, random, innocent people are buried alive, screaming for help, hoping to be discovered and rescued, suffering one of the most cruel deaths imaginable.

Some of these unfortunate people are buried alive more or less unintentionally, in the rubble of buildings collapsed by earthquakes. Some, though, are buried less unintentionally. That is, they are buried somewhat intentionally, in the concrete and glass of bombed-out buildings in Gaza and elsewhere, with ample funding from the United States.

Struggling to breathe, they may have no idea whether or not they will be discovered. Because there is a chance that they will be rescued, however, we might imagine that the sociopaths who are creating these nightmarish conditions, burying people alive, are less horrifying than the villain in the film. That villain, after all, ensured that his victims could not be saved. There was no escape for them. Then again, that character is a work of fiction. He doesn’t exist. It was only a movie. In Gaza, though, the nightmare is real.

Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and adjunct professor. He lives in New York City and can be reached at elliot.sperber@gmail.com and on twitter @elliot_sperber