I have been receiving, since last Tuesday, different emails from friends and acquaintances around the world. Some have been radical in their reactions; others bewildered; all shared confusion, horror, and concern. I have remained, mostly, speechless. Silence and meditation seemed the only response I was capable of. My head, like yours, was unable to comprehend the deranged, long-term determination such an act and its planning took; my brain locked into a high vibration of sorrow. Please allow me my small moment to express myself, however ill advised I am to break my own silence, and become absurd trying to articulate the impossible.
I am focusing on the next steps, which may too rapidly occur. What happened, first of all, had been expected, was inevitable; that the terrorists would be so bold, so terrible, so highly determined was the shock. And this is the point from here on in. There is a great mourning for the deaths: for the humans involved, for the peace of our spirits. These "enemies" act from decades of hatred for what the USA and much Western policy stand for. This is not a one off. The military intelligence behind this has lots more in mind, and decades to do it in.
Let me go local to give you a small idea of what's going on out here. My life partner is a French teacher. An educated, Moroccan colleague of hers, a Muslin, began sending her 8 and 10 year olds to local school teaching the Koran. The first day they came home from school they said they would no longer drink Coke, which they used to drink happily, because it was part of the Evil State of the USA. This happened two weeks ago. This is happening everywhere, and has been happening for decades.
There are significant pockets of humanity severely pissed off with America. No surprise. And some of them have declared war big time. We seem to be about to do it back, also big time. Logical. However: now what? We don't know what. That is part of the continuing shock we are in. Washington uses the jargon of WWII; that is even more disturbing. Too many of these leaders don't still seem to get it: this enemy is everywhere: ten here, five hundred there, forty in your backyard, seventy or seven thousand in the mountains of Afghanistan the Russians couldn't touch; more in the schools in Belgium and elsewhere. There is no revenge because there is no rational target. There is only more. More everywhere from anyone. That is why my emotions continue imploding.
Can we not now expect chemical warfare, nuclear possibilities, random violence --not flying in somewhere, but someone standing next to you who decides to let it rip with a human pocketful of nerve gas? We can now expect everything- after watching and watching that plane go into the second tower time after time, hypnotized by its import - that there are no more rules, anything is possible. Anything will now happen. I don't see any "war" being won; I see incidents, both horrible and minor, escalations. We will be bombing shadows. And those shadows will strike back, dying happily in the process. Where's the Big War here? Where do we point the guns? Everywhere? And how exactly do you shoot suicides? How do you take aim at individuals who kill themselves in the killing?
We can't kill the dead twice. We won´t be able to get that feel for revenge many want.
This is not a winner/loser war; there can never be a final Victory declaration. This will go on and go, because with each death, young ones will be signing up to kill the other guy: Muslins and Western folks, all radicalized. Militants on both sides are saying very clearly: death anytime, anywhere.
Where does that leave someone like me? It leaves me with a memory that now means more. I remember attending to a press conference a few years ago here in Brussels I was lucky enough to sneak into; it was with the artist David Hockney when he had a retrospective here. He was asked how he resolved painting beautiful pictures when so many of his friends were dying of aids. Why did he not represent this and the other horrors of modern life in his work? He replied that he had once read that many had attacked Matisse after WWII because he retreated to the South of France to continue painting flowers while the world went to war. Matisse did not join the resistance, did not speak out. He drew flowers. Hockney remarked that he found hope in that; that while untold death and destruction was going on around, someone somewhere was still painting beautiful pictures of flowers. Hockney felt that that matters as much as war. It is where I place myself; it is the place I know best. I cannot kill; but I can still try to add some more beauty. I turn to my writing, inventing more stories that may cause pleasure, dodging the bullets to come, remaining fully engaged in my time. Choosing a path that does not say revenge; one that says Peace. In the face of those who say No, others have to keep saying Yes.
Peace. And thanks for listening, and sharing.