It angers me that according to the 'officials' there are no victims in this game - no mothers, fathers, daughters or sons. No lovers. Just vague, valueless references to 'collateral damage' or 'targets' in far-away countries like Afghanistan or Iraq. Erasing the essence of humanity.
According to this skewed version of reality there are only dichotomies and difference. Good vs evil. Us vs them. Different landscapes, political, cultural and ideological differences. Places where it's okay to torture and to test new ways to kill. Places where lives just aren't as important, unless those lost are our Anglophone 'brothers and sisters', which are tallied up and reported nightly on our news. You know the stories... "Two Australians were killed in Iraq today" ... not daring to put any faces to the statistics, and not daring to give any statistics that aren't 'ours'. Not reporting the misery. Best left unsaid. Leave unsaid the way the targets are killed, because the means are unspeakable. Let's just talk about 'successful missions' and victory.
But I want to tell you. Because the victim's relatives still have voices. They have been found for us, if we look, if we don't just lazily rely on spoon fed media images, distorting reality to sell news and politics and other shit. We can see them for ourselves, crowding in hospitals, cradling the ones that are managing to live but may yet have no life; fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, bandages, blood and missing limbs, peering into wavering video cameras eager to tell their stories while they have a chance in the hope that someone, somewhere will repeat their story. Trusting that someone will help to restore their humanity. They are on the internet, mediated; we are spared the fetid smells, the sticky feel of blood beneath our feet, the flies, spared the very worst. We can only imagine how it feels, but it is there to see. If we look.
On these days I come home, feeling sullied, dirty, disillusioned, angry. Eyes burning from tears that sneak down my face. Guilty that I am not being a 'good scholar' - dispassionate and objective. Guilty that I am trying to be that person. A myriad of tormented emotions hosted in my mind, my humour in hibernation. Disempowered. Frustrated.
On these days I need to look for small, good things. To remind myself that they still exist. The way the ducks have created a maze in the neighbourhood pond as they wend their way through the weeds. Scribbly gum bark. The smell of my small nephews as they burrow into me for a cuddle. The intentness of my son as he focuses on his latest web device, all eyebrows, elbows and frown. The lingering taste of wine on my tongue. My lover's guttural, enthusiastic roar as his team scores a try in the football. My cat asleep, resting his chin gently on my knee. The smell of my neighbour's dinner wafting with the breeze through my window. The cool, dry evening after weeks of rain. The anticipation of sleep.
Small good things for which I am grateful.
But I still can't shake the sorrow. I can't do enough. If I can do anything at all.