She awoke to total blackness and silence. She blinked her eyes, or thought she did, but the darkness was so total that it made no difference. She tried to call out, but no sound came from her mouth. With growing panic, she realized that she couldn’t see anything, couldn’t hear anything, couldn’t feel her own body. Worse, she couldn’t remember how she got into this state. She couldn’t remember her own name, or anything about her life before this moment.
Was this a strange dream? Dreams usually had sights and sounds. She was always someone in her dreams. Maybe she was the victim of a horrible accident that left her blind, deaf, paralyzed and amnesiatic. She mentally corrected that to “amnestic”.
Or maybe she was dead, and this was the afterlife. Rather than a heaven of light and angelic voices, rather than a hell of fires and the wailing of the damned, there was just nothingness. But she was conscious. That made nothingness into an especially fiendish hell–she was conscious enough to mourn her own nonexistence. She couldn’t remember her life, but she felt the loss of it.
Maybe she had killed herself, wanting oblivion, and this was
her ironic eternal punishment—to be given what she thought she wanted.
“To die, to sleep; To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there
The World In Ruins: 2001 – 2004
It’s been a long time since the beginning of the Iraq War. 15 years? Anyway, at the time the war started, I was in such a downer mood. All this violence unleashed. It was launched by a superpower that was trying to remake the Middle East in its own image, in response to a shocking terrorist attack that had nothing to do with Iraq. The war brought all the simmering hatreds of a region to a boil: Sunnis versus Shiites, Arabs versus Israelis, Muslims versus Christians. Anti-Jewish, Anti-Muslim, Anti-American, Anti-Arab, almost all the combinations of anti- with something else seemed at play. War seemed to be everywhere, and a hundred thousand or more innocent civilians were killed, and hundreds of thousands more were turned into refugees as their homes became battlefields.
That year, I was very despondent about the world. The Christmas cards I sent out were very bleak and nearly wordless. Just a picture of doves and the word “Peace”.
Healing the World
At that time, I was thinking what would it take to heal this bloodied world. The US can launch a war against Iraq without much pangs of conscience, and Al Qaeda can blow up buildings in New York City because other people’s lives from halfway around the world seem like abstractions to them. They don’t seem real. We don’t think of people on the other side as being fully-realized humans that we can have disagreements with and still respect as neighbors. Obviously, it’s impossible for a world of 7 billion people to all feel like neighbors and friends.
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