Sunday, July 24, 2011

Living in the Bubble

Most of the time, I live in a bubble. That’s how I stay sane, how I stay alive. This week, I found myself outside the bubble and it’s frightening out there. I couldn’t last long outside the bubble. I’m working on getting back inside.

I was reading David Eggers What Is the What, about the life of Sudanese Achak Deng, who was one of the Lost Boys. The back of the book promises it is “unexpectedly funny,” but I did not find an ounce of humor in the first 100 pages, during which this poor child of about seven years old experiences every horror imaginable and then some from the time the fundamentalist religious fanatics of the North first raided and destroyed the town of his birth in South Sudan, killing his family. I stopped reading yesterday at about 100 pages. I know that I should bear witness for this poor soul. But I can’t bear another word of his excruciating story. I returned it to the library. I never reached the unexpectedly funny part.

Ron and I are watching the Ken Burns series about the history of Jazz music. It’s a fabulous odyssey, and indeed has many funny moments as well as terrific music. Jazz (or “Jass” as it was first called, named after the jasmine perfume of the whores who frequented the New Orleans music halls where “Jass” was born) evolved in tandem with the evolution of America. It would be impossible to talk about the history of Jazz without talking about the history of America. The other day, when the images of lynchings began to appear on the screen, I covered my eyes and asked Ron to let me know when they were done. At least a full minute went by before the assault was over and I was able to watch again.

This week’s Time Magazine reports a famine in Somalia, and contains photos of starving children. Images of malnourished African children are rooted in my brain from when I was a child. African children have been dying of starvation for a long time. So have American children.

The newspapers this morning report the shooting of more than 80 youngsters at a summer camp in Oslo; slain by a psychopathic fundamentalist religious fanatic. This week there was also a shooting in Santa Rosa by a mentally ill jealous boyfriend. He killed an off-duty police officer, who was someone’s beloved father, son, husband. friend. Even the local newspaper reports a fatal shooting at Lake Mendocino, which was caused by a quarrel over drugs.

What is wrong with us humans? Causing each other such pain. Traumatizing children. Creating generation after generation of damaged, mentally ill, and lost souls, who continue to perpetrate violence and harm. Why are we so violent? I’m having a bad week, a sad week, a week out of the bubble to grieve for the failures of humankind. Let me back into the bubble. Let me back into my fortunate, insulated life. I can’t take it out here.

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