A Meme Triggers a Memory, and I am Lost:
Understanding Pain and Collective Care
I have a very vivid memory of the moment that I began to understand the suffering that exists in the world. One night between the 16th and 19th of December of 1998 I was sat on the floor of the front room of my house playing with a model fighter jet, my book of plane specifications open in front of me as bombs rained down on Baghdad. The whole thing played out in front of me on television and for a while I flew along and pretended to bomb cardboard box towers and vuvuzela skyscrapers. After a few hours I started thinking about where people lived in Baghdad. At the age of 8 I had this horrifying realisation that people were being hurt and that was, if not directly, the objective of the very real version of my game.
Obviously I didn’t begin to process any of this in real terms until after 9/11, most likely about when Green Day put out American Idiot. Even then my ideas were simple. Stop killing people = good. This lockdown, and the outpouring of community support that has followed, have given me time to think even more about a theme that has almost consumed me for the past decade. For now, I’m managing, but eventually I guess I should do something.
Given the precarious nature of wellbeing in the surprisingly chaotic world of confinement, I’m avoiding going down a deeply depressing rabbit hole. However, I have a few things to ask of you:
As we help each other the best we can, I urge you to remember what the United States, Britain, and their allies have done to fragment the foreign counterparts of communities and institutions we are now praising. We have destroyed schools and hospitals, weddings, factories, and this is ‘American’. So much so that an eight year old boy witnessing the death of thousands thought it appropriate to make a game of a bombing done on shaky intelligence toward perhaps malicious political ends. Desert Fox is one out of a long list of political games with very real consequences. It is imperative that we do everything we can to make amends.
Now that you’ve come down to my level, I’ll share my tools. The shovel that I am using to dig myself out of this profoundly sad rut is hope.
I hope that the outpouring of humanity that we’re witnessing throughout the Covid-19 crisis doesn’t stop at our borders. I hope it doesn’t drift from our memory as journalists leave hospitals and supermarkets. I hope that this is the beginning of an age of doing right by the rest of the world. It has to usher in an era of truth and reconciliation, or we’re lost.
- : Danbury, Connecticut USA
- : Almería, Spain
- : 29
- : Teacher