Last night in the Rizzuto household: two boys age 13 and 11 wandering around in the kitchen, suddenly hear strains of a new song on the radio in the back room. They run in, yelling, “I love this song!” “This is a great song!” “I know all the words!” They then proceed to dance around, singing:
“And to discriminate only generates hate
And if you hatin you’re bound to get irate
Yeah madness is what you demonstrate
And that’s exactly how anger works and operates
You gotta have love just to set it straight
Take control of your mind and meditate
Let your soul gravitate to the love y’all”
(Where Is The Love?, Black Eyed Peas)
Of course, then they began smashing into each other, and wrestling, and ending up in a happy heap on the floor because they are boys after all.
Thank you, Black Eyed Peas for lyrics that are much more inspiring and apparently as catchy as “lovely lady lumps.”
And thank you, New York City for another anecdote from the lives of these boys: Last year, my sons were really engaged in the presidential election, staying up late to watch the debates, following the issues and considering what was important to them in the platforms. They were, and still are, big Obama fans. When I asked them if it was important to him that he was African American, they said, “Yes.” (Hey, they are also multiracial with Hawaiian roots and are big shave ice fans, so I wasn’t sure.) When I asked why, they said, “Because we need an African American president.” When I asked, what portion of the United States do you think is black?” they said: “Fifty percent.” I said, “What portion do you think is Hispanic?” and they said, “Twenty-five percent.” Which leaves less than a quarter of the country to the Caucasians. J This is, of course, the mix of kids in their very good Brooklyn public schools.
I like this part of this world we are living in. Let your soul gravitate to the love.
“This wasn’t a game or an exercise or a movie; these were real soldiers with real blood and real families waiting back home. What had I done wrong?”
(Craig M. Mullaney, The Unforgiving Minute)
When war is not felt, it cannot be avoided. If I learned anything from the survivors of Hiroshima, it is this. After the atomic bomb was dropped, the world was treated to visions of power (the mushroom cloud) and might (the devastated landscape). Pictures and video of what happened to the people – of what a living creature looks like without a face – these were confiscated because of their potentially incendiary nature. In other words, if we could see them, then we might feel them. And if we had to grapple with, and even take responsibility for, such suffering, we might lose our taste for war.
This is why the narratives from the “well-written war” are so important (New York Times, 2/7/10). If our veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are willing to speak from their nightmares and publicly wrestle their ghosts, we should be listening. These men and women risked their lives; they risked limbs, senses, “ability.” If they no longer believe in a war they would have died for, we need to know what they thought war was, and what turned out not to be true. We owe it to them to understand this. We owe it to our children to feel it.
It seems to me the answer is in the word: absurd.
“The civil affairs officer, Lt Jackson, stares
at his missing hands, which make
no sense to him, no sense at all, to wave
these absurd stumps held in the air
where just a moment before he’d blown bubbles
out the Humvee window…”
(Brian Turner, Here, Bullet)
And so, it begins…
A gorgeous new website created by Christian Peet. An artistic and sensitive collaborator, an inspiring poet, and a nice person too. Peruse the many faces of Christian on his website, and check out his essential literary journal, Tarpaulin Sky.