Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What keeps me up at night

What am I afraid of? I'm afraid that a small boy will stab a police officer in the eyes with a pair of scissors, and nothing will ever be the same.

Night. A demonstration, or a riot? Fire and fear, anger. It’s about food, about water, about hygienic conditions, about safety. It’s about desperation.

(On our own continent, North America, where These Things just don’t happen? People don’t riot in the streets for food. We have food banks and social assistance, don’t we?)

And yet, tonight, here are Women, Men and Children crowded together, a single beast howling for fairness, crying out in anguish for Lack.  Women, Men and Children, real and makeshift weapons brandished high, surging forward together:  a Force, a Wave,  rising to break against the Wall of Enforcement inevitably blocking its path.

Enforcement braces. Waits.

Wave smashes Wall! Spatters fly left and right, crowd crushing forward in a beautiful liquid flow, a choreographed dance of forward, full-stop, arch and FLY back. An inside-out waterfall, from above. A taste of hell from within.

Cracks, shots, screams, thuds, shouts, growls, roars; one tumultuous Roar of raw human violence. Teeth bared, the animals rise to their nature.  No spectacle in the Universe can match it (thanks be).

A grand human battle, as in days of old, when knights and villagers fought, quite literally, Tooth and Nail for their very survival. As in days of now, in countries far away where they can be safely ignored. And today, where we didn’t expect it and certainly don’t want it. Here. Somehow, it must be the fault of the Instigators. So Power whispers in our ears, as we witness from what we hope remains a safe distance.

In the end, of course, vicious Power must win by any means necessary, because anything less accepts defeat. Power cannot compute Defeat. Power is single-minded.

But what happens next?

Devon, nine, small for his age, hungry and ready to fight. Devon watches a big, ugly cop slam his Little-Tough-as-Nails-Mama with a club. Devon hears the crack of her skull and he sees the fluorescent glow of her spirit fly from her open mouth and dissipate into the night as her body slumps forward, bloody hair in her face.

Devon’s rage defies gravity. He flies through the air, latches his legs around that cop’s chest with the grip of a cobra. Scissors raised.

And what happens next?

What else could happen? Devon stabs the cop in the eyes. Again, and again. Power, that fairweather weasel, sees his Champion falter and just jumps ship; Devon’s gaping Hate beckons and Power lustily fills the void. Now the man’s high-pitched anguished screams pump Devon like energy. Now he wants to hurt, he wants to kill, he needs to take this life.

And next?

Hands, fists, boots, pain, pain, pain, pain, can’t breath, can’t see, can’t think, can’t move, can’t…

Eight cops beat Devon to death in the space of a minute. Eleven other cops see only their brethren gone wild on a child, and rush forward to stop it. Cop Brawl pulls in seven more officers before the crowd surrounds them. In under five minutes, reinforcements find twenty-six cops being torn to pieces by hundreds of people, regular people fighting each other for the privilege of giving their hate free expression. Nine of those cops are already dead.

And next, of course…

Someone opens fire.

Days and thousands dead before Power satisfies his immediate longings. Of course, he is never satisfied.

We know how to prevent it. We have the resources to prevent it. Finding the Will...I have my hopeful days and I have my days of dark visions and no faith that the amazing beauty of individual humans can ever be translated into the larger social systems.

Then again, 1,000 years is a long time. Never say never...right?