Saturday, April 30, 2016

I'm not into numbers. But what's in the human heart?

I'm not into numbers of dead or wounded or maimed or disappeared or repatriated or lost. I'm not into "sides" or who planted which bombs or booby trapped which bus. I'm not into Colombo and I'm not into what somebody out there calls "peace and reconciliation." I'm sure these are terms that are alien to ninety percent of your people because they don't have the vocabulary or the cognitive capacity. Shoveling rice into their faces using their hands as a sort of paddle is the main occupation. I'm not really interested in dates and I couldn't be less interested in politics or political maneuvering. The politicians, the "journalists," and the academics are locked into mind-bogglingly evil vortices of self deception that spreads to the rest of this country on evil tentacles that inject poison slow or fast or numbing or paining depending on what the Big Men want at a given time. Monks too I suppose although that's hearsay. I don't understand Sinhala so I don't know which poison they're spreading. 

It's like lying is the way people communicate and the only goal is to pour on more lies, make the lies thick, mulch the old lies and transmogrify them into new "truths" which nobody cares about anyway as long as mountains of rice are being transformed into mountainous bellies to be nurtured under gigantic knots of the national costume, the male sarong. What is that bulge supposed to portray? Command? Envision? Oh by the way I'm not into so-called peace process because there isn't any. How could there be any hint of process like that when it's the last thing your Big Men want?

I feel bad to write such mean sounding things. But there's some truth in it. Maybe a lot of truth? It's the truth I hear. It's the way interpret what I read and hear. Or. Just my impression. Maybe based on my friend's growing pessimism and disappointment, his saying the other day this country will never heal. My conjecture. But with some truth. If you can say there's truth. Because what is truth? The truth in truth-telling and reconciliation? We're very far from that. The "truth" that people in the "south" are stirred up? Maybe. Or maybe it's their politicians and their "journalists" and their academics who are stirring them up. Because if you keep the pot boiling there is no way anyone inside the pot will look out and say hey we don't need to live this way in the pot. Then there might be change. Or political change that's not based on violence and intimidation and submissiveness, the triplets that are built into the foundations, I hate to say, the very culture of this society. Better to keep them, the people in those sarongs and saris, stirred up like a massive immune system on the lookout, an immune system on the defensive, an immune system convinced of its enemy. Chemically convinced, genetically convinced. Ready to make war. Ready to do anything at any cost because its been convinced. The switches have been turned on one by one by one until the whole complex evil monster is ready to rock. How did you turn on the switches? Easily. By telling lies: The enemy is implacable and the enemy is at hand. The enemy is preparing and the enemy is rattling its swords. The enemy is sworn to crush you so you must crush it. 

But my interest is not in crushing. My interest is in pumping. Of the human heart in the human breast. Let's say for the moment that even politicians and "journalists" and vice chancellors have these pumps called hearts and even use them not only for pumping red blood but to make feelings about their world and the other heart-owners, people that is, in their world. I'm including these people, the Big Men, only to be fair. After all they are part of the human species, capable of what other humans are capable of and of course therefore capable of love and fear and all the rest. But I'm including them here only philosophically, to include rather than exclude them. To admit them to the human species though of course mine is not to admit. They are already card-carrying members of the human race by means of their lineage and DNA. But moving along, what is it in people's hearts?

What is in the heart of a victim? What is in the heart of a perpetrator? What are the feelings and motivations that lead to acts of violence and it seems it's acts of violence more than acts of love our people are prone to, our species that is. But what is in the heart? How is that heart pumping the creative juices that add up to feelings and perceptions and moments and hatreds and loves and protectiveness and longing and missing and hunger for another person or for freedom or for dignity, this hunger aside from the daily hunger of three-times-a-day rice?

What are the motivations for spells of crazy violence or finger pointing or bomb throwing? What's going on in the young man's heart when he's firebombing a house with children asleep in it? Are there hesitations or is his heart just pounding and pumping the poison he's had injected into him like so much synthol and steroids? And his head? Maybe he's too young to really know how to use it. Or maybe it is just directing the muscles of his body to throw the bomb and destroy lives. Or maybe his head and heart are in the same place, the same swimming lane so to speak, and that is the lane of Fear. The lane in which he's convinced, like so many other young men are, that these enemies are potentially much greater than his "group" and need to be vanquished before they bud or burst out into their own violence. So maybe it's this fear thing that unites heads and hearts and brains and muscles and blood and adds up to an inexorable babble of do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. And so. He throws the bomb. 

But maybe did he hear a voice? Was there any hesitation, even a second? A nanosecond? One switch out of a hundred or a hundred and fifty or the thousand switches of hate and illogic and fear and desparateness that got turned off and so set the machinery of throwing just ever so slightly askew? Even for a second? Was there a moment of compassion, the tiniest moment, preached by his religion, the religion he is out to defend by throwing a firebomb and destroying a family or rounding up another youngster he knows is innocent and more a scared than him? I don't know. I'm only guessing. I'm only a foreigner who came here many years, many decades after the pot boiled over. 

But why keep it boiling like a pot that is about to have its milk boiled over in a celebratory time-marking family-oriented way? What does it serve other than those Big Men. But what other way do you have to go? It's the culture and the way things are done and it's what you've been taught. So the lies they tell you, and the lies they teach you how to recite and make communicated to others, these are the milk of human kindness. These are the milk boiling over in the holiday pot. These are the lines of power, the channels of communication. These bits of hate, these drips of poison and fear, are the way you grow and develop as a person, as a man. 

So the illogic of firebombing a young family's house is cut somehow with what you perceive to be a truth. That these people are the poison, the thorn in your side, in your society's side. In your sui-side. They need to be destroyed so society can go forward, so you can keep drinking or absorbing that poison that you think is the milk of life. But. Who told you to do this? Who triggered this or what triggered this? Your heart is a kind heart. Or it may be a kind heart. It is a heart that loves its mother heart and grandmother heart and maybe loved teachers and pets. So there is room in your heart, capacity in your heart, for love, gentle love. But something triggers, something convinces, something prompts, something overwhelms, something unstoppers your own violence, violence that I'm told we all are capable of, and stoppers your also-innate gentleness. Something pushes you over the top. 

Look. Sometimes you want to key a car. You don't like the people in the car. You don't like the car. You're angry about something else. But then. Maybe you think. I've had my car keyed. It is so not nice. So uncool. It makes the person sad when they go to the car to open the door and take their kids to school and they see those mean key scratches. So when you want to do it yourself some brakes come on. Come on! There are consequences to this action. You will make someone else sad, angry, incensed, revengeful. You will create badness by this simple act of badness, and it's not that bad. Only scratching the paint on someone's car door. But it is a small act that carries big meaning, something that sets in motion badness, depression, discomfiture, a feeling of gloom and doom. Don't do it. Keep your hands and your keys in your pocket. Skip it. Go do something else. Look the other way. OK you almost did it but it doesn't make you less of a man so to speak not to carry through. Just give it a miss will you?

Truly it's that moment I'm after. Not the millions of moments of mechanical mass murder, mayhem, massacre. It's the moment of faltering or manning up of a heart. A heartbeat really isn't it? The moment or you could call it turning point when mayhem is averted or imposed, full scale. I think it's more psychological than political. It's more philosophical than physical. It's a moment in the heart, a construct, a crawl space, a cone that leads to a different world, a different fate, a change of time and opinion. So, what is it? Can it be? Or are we helplessly attached brain to heart to act on our fears and mutually destroy? Or unilaterally destroy? Or exhort to destroy?

By the way that's a good question. If you didn't come up with this idea to firebomb a Tamil family's home in Bandarawela in 1981, and I doubt you did. You just weren't that smart. Who gave you the idea? Who planted it? Who exhorted you, pulled you from the garden so to speak? Who extorted you? Who put the fear into you that without you doing this exact thing disaster would surely be meted out? Who did you go into a covenant with, a co-going that by its unity gave you the "strength" to throw that bomb? Who prepared your not-that-smart mind of yours to do this deed? What was their problem? Were they preaching compassion on Poya day and throwing fire and brimstone the other 29 days of the month because those Tamils simply deserved it? Was it a monk? Was it monks? Were they in temple or on tv? Am I too far off in my guess?

Was it the principal of your school? Black hair dyed, strict with the rod, with the ringing of bells, stiff with the rod and the bingeing of bells? Was it your parents, your hardworking father or your hard drinking father or your missing father and your hard working mother? Was it a cousin or a brother like the Boston bomber? The Belgian bomber? The Bandarawela bomber? Who taught you these nasty manners? 

Did you eat that night? Did you eat heartily? Did you wait until you did the deed and then reward yourself with dinner? Did you drink that night? Did you drink enough so that your heart was silenced and for that matter a good part of your not-so-smart brain so that what you did was almost automatic? But just gotta ask, what about that single lonely part that wasn't set on automatic? That hesitated? That posed a question? 

Can you tell this story from your perspective? I'll pretend, even imagine you're still alive. You're probably here in Sri Lanka, I bet you're still out there in Uva Province, because I just don't imagine you were smart enough to go to Colombo and join in the mind boggling making of money and "wealth" in a poor society sucked dry by its politicians and leaders. If there was "something for you" in the firebombing I'm pretty sure it was smallish and temporary. So I'm guessing you're a little younger than me, meaning that you were between 19 and 29 when you threw the firebomb. I'm pretty sure you are Sinhalese because I think it would be pretty rare for one Tamil family to firebomb another in 1981 in Bandarawela. And chances are pretty remote that you'd be a foreigner. Let's rule that one out? So I imagine you're still "out there," probably eating lots of rice, probably too much because now you have "sugar." Probably close to Bandarawela, probably a parent of grown children, probably an uncle or an "uncle." Probably you don't speak English so you won't read this but if any of your Sinhalese nephews is into it he can translate for you or probably one of your nieces. They're a little more studious. 

Then you could find me. You could contact me through my blog. Or your niece or nephew could do that. They're pretty good with Facebook and all that stuff. Then we could have a nice sit down. You could tell me what was in your heart when you threw the firebomb, the Molotov cocktail. You could tell me what's in your heart now, as your life (this one at least) is coming to the short end of the fuse. What would you like to happen when you get ready to enter the next life? Would you like to repent? Would you like to talk to the people you tried to kill? I betcha they'd forgive. Would you like to gain a bit of "merit" before you go? Up to you. I'm just wondering. I'm just a foreigner. I'm into finding some true stories and letting you run with them any way you like. 

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