I don’t know what it feels like to be marginalised.
I don’t know what its like to be look at sideways on the street.
I haven’t lost my loved ones to war.
But I do feel loss, and grief and sadness and I ache.
As I type, there is a shootout in Mali’s capital, and a hostage situation. This will not garner a social media profile photo flag. This will not garner wall to wall media coverage.
And that is just as painful as the grief and shock I feel for Paris and the unbelievable shock it has witnessed.
A day before Paris, it was Beirut. Four people set out to blow up a popular shopping area of Beirut. Two managed to detonate their bombs, a third got caught in the blast before he could explode his and a fourth got caught my locals before he could do anything.
They nearly lynched him. The police had to shoot into the air to make the crowd to disperse in order to arrest him.
In the hospital a man screamed out to the camera: ‘We are Arabs, and we will never bow our heads!’
Defiant, brave and uncowed. The terrorists failed that day in Beirut, even if the price was high.
Paris; people living good, happy lives cut short by such callousness, a level of brutal inhumanity that I wondered if these people weren’t on drugs, that they did not flinch nor shy away.
It takes some kind of monstrousness to pull a trigger on anyone.
And you know what is so sad – that could be any of us. That monstrousness spawned the #blacklivesmatter movement too remember? And yes, they're similar things if not the same. Fueled by the same kind of ignorance, fueled by the same kind of hate and fear, its just a matter of degrees and its a sad day when we argue those tiny things instead of those big ones.
There is no ‘US’, there is no ‘THEM’ but we decided to make it so, and now we’re paying the cost.
And what is more heart breaking is that Paris is rising from this tragedy with the same resilience that made them resist in the war, that made them overthrow their oppressors in glorious revolution and we are not even so much as learning from their example.
You will not have my hate – said a man who lost his wife.
Do you still trust me? – asked a local Parisian (and many still did).
I will not be manipulated – said a television broadcaster.
But I don’t know, it feels like there’s not enough of these. I am drowning in so much argument and it hurts.
It hurts because we are too busy yelling to stop for a second and just cry.
And I apologise, my writing is erratic and my spelling is probably worse – half my screen is blurry, or maybe that’s my eyesight.
I know we will grow from this, we’ll get better but right now its very black. I sound very confident about my politics and social opinions but I’m not.
I’m sad, I’m sad for the people we lose to the dumbest shit.
If only someone had given those kids a year’s subscription to World of Warcraft. Or invited them to play soccer. Or just taken them to the movies. Or just told them that they mattered, and yeah we do different stuff but what's important is the stuff that makes us the same, like our love for Cristiano Ronaldo.
If only our arguments were over who Kylo Ren is in the new Star Wars movie, I’d take a punch in the throat for spreading the theory about Dark Jar Jar.
We invent words, like US and THEM and by the nature of the fact that we are shaped by our language we create it. So words like ‘INFIDEL’, ‘HOLY WAR’ become real to those who do not understand the terrible and exacting beauty of their own language.
We invent things to fight over, and I’m not even talking about religion.
I see absolutely no difference between Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Rastafarians, Zoroastrians or even Bhuddists. For crying out loud, we can’t even get along with people with a different skin colour than us, or even genitalia for that matter, never mind the complicated existential stuff.
God came to all of us. To some, he became a bearded dude in the sky, to others, an Elephant, or an abstract concept that manifests in different forms depending on what your requirements are.
My mother is a good catholic who taught me a very profound truth:
If god, who is amazing and huge and beautiful and powerful and everywhere and made everything including time and space – then why wouldn’t she reveal himself to everyone in different ways?
To some, it showed its face as a ten armed goddess, to others, a golden eagle, and to others, a kind hearted Jewish dude who allowed himself to get killed in a horrific way by some Italians because he knew that being excellent to each other was far more important than being afraid of death. And to many others, words spoken by an angel to teach us the way forward.
Wouldn’t it be insulting to your god to think that he created billions of people, but only a handful are his chosen ones? What kind of dickhead god is that? Why would he make us if he only made some for himself? Geez god, you’re a racist douche, and wasteful too. All that clay wasted on the untouched, on the heathen. You could have made like, a trillion turtles for all that effort.
Shit, we can’t even get along with non-humans come to think about it.
And I’m equal parts heart-broken and angry, because it’s the same goddamn thing.
Its Richard the Lionheart, Grand Crusader for the Cross of Christ, burning Acre to the ground killing everyone inside, women and children. All for the Christian faith.
Don’t think that because it happened so long ago that its not relevant boys and girls, time is, as Rust says, a flat circle.
ISIS took Aleppo, they burned the ruins of thousands of years. They killed women and they killed children.
Boko Haram has stolen more children than we can ever count.
Catholic bishops and priests raped, tortured and mutilated thousands of people just to get them to confess to unimportant heresies, the office of the Inquisition is still an active office of the Vatican.
We embroidered yellow stars on Jews to point them out to the population, only later to use it as an identifier as to whom should go to the camps.
Now, some brainiac in the US wants to give Syrian refugees special Ids if they come into the country. Hahahah I did Nazi that coming... get it?
Of course you do. How sad is that?
Around 70 years ago. Japanese pilots invoked the spirit of the divine wind and killed their enemies in their thousands. There are Buddhists actively participating in the massacre of the Rohingya people.
There are priests destroying children, safe in the knowledge that the Vatican will protect them.
God blew down the walls of Jericho, God burned cities to the ground... holy cow god, you’re pretty freaking scary when you pick sides in a fight.
You can ‘yeah but...’ all you like, but this smells like human nature to me and then we blamed something so much more gorgeous than ourselves for our stupidity and called it righteous. Same mongrel, different collar and everyone is doing it so if you’re going to point the finger, remember there’s three pointing back.
So here I am, forlorn and disheartened and needing something to hang on to.
And here’s the thing, the only thing we really have is each other. So I have no choice but to hang on to you guys and believe we’re more beautiful than this.
And I have to believe the fairy tales that tell me, time and time again, that good people triumph because there has to be a reason we tell these tales. To light tiny candles in the deep dark.
If we tell them enough, they just might start happening.
So I’ll take the words of a widow and I will only love. And I will take my indignation and turn it into a shield because I will not be manipulated.
And I will be the first to say sorry, even though I haven’t done anything.
I’m sorry that I am often helpless to help. I am sorry that I too am quick to judge. I’m sorry, I forget you’re human too. I’m sorry, I want to give you a hug, but computer screens prevent that. I’m sorry that all my good intentions and love and well wishes sometimes can’t stop the hate or the anger or the loss or the sorrow.
I’m sorry, I don’t have the answers. I’m sorry, I will always be ignorant about something. I’m sorry, I sometimes just wont understand.
But I have to remember these things, so that all my apologies can become steps forward. So maybe I’ll read some history on the internet and find out what everyone was doing back then.
I’ll go to that soup kitchen, or that library and have a bizarre conversation about haunted trains, because I’ll still learn something and I’m sure that guy appreciates telling me all about it.
And I’ll try to walk half a mile in your shoes, especially if they’re Vivienne Westwoods.
And I’ll believe the stories and fairy tales about heroes and good people because maybe if I believe hard enough. They’ll come true. Because even if they’re just fairy tales, I’m still pretending to be a better person than what I normally am.
Because Terry Pratchett, may his magnificent soul rest in peace – was right all along.
And maybe the only good thing I can ever do is spread the word of my own personal prophet to you. Because his words have saved me and my human, stupid, full of holes heart more times than I can count.
THE SUN WOULD NOT HAVE RISEN
‘Really? Then what would have happened?’
A MERE BALL OF FLAMING GAS WOULD HAVE ILLUMINATED THE WORLD
‘Ah’ said Susan dully. ‘Trickery with words. I would have thought you’d have been more literal-minded than that’.
I AM NOTHING IF NOT LITERAL-MINDED. TRICKERY WITH WORDS IS WHERE HUMANS LIVE.
‘All right’, said Susan. ‘I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need... fantasies to make life bearable.’
REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.
‘Toothfairies? Hogfathers? Little-‘
YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.
‘So we can believe the big ones?’
YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.
‘They’re not the same at all!’
YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET – Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME... SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT IS JUDGED.
‘Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what the point-‘
MY POINT EXACTLY
THERE IS A PLACE WHERE TWO GALAXIES HAVE BEEN COLLIDING FOR A MILLION YEARS, said Death, apropos of nothing. DON’T TRY TO TELL ME THAT’S RIGHT.
‘Yes, but people don’t think about that,’ Said Susan.
CORRECT. STARS EXPLODE, WORLDS COLLIDE, THERE’S HARDLY ANYWHERE IN THE UNIVERSE WHERE HUMANS CAN LIVE WITHOUT BEING FROZEN OR FRIED, AND YET YOU BELIEVE THAT A...A BED IS A NORMAL THING. IT IS THE MOST AMAZING TALENT.
OH YES, A VERY SPECIAL KIND OF STUPIDITY. YOU THINK THE WHOLE UNIVERSE IS INSIDE YOUR HEADS.
‘You make us sound mad,’ said Susan.
NO, YOU NEED TO BELIEVE IN THINGS THAT AREN’T TRUE. HOW ELSE CAN THEY BECOME?
I think I’ve had enough of a rant, maybe my venting might help you digest some of your thoughts.
Cancer is a shit and so is blind sightedness and there’s too much loss sometimes. And sometimes it isn't fair but if we don't wear our hearts like armour then we will never become strong.
So lets make new things. Better things, that they may carry the better sides of our nature.
And if you ever need a holler, a virtual hug or a chat buddy, I'm here, wherever that may be.