Crappy Holidays

To Those Who’ll Get Coal
& Little Else to Cheer About

Many are piling up about how bad 2016 was. We agree. Almost nothing has gone our way, the world became considerably worst, even if some disagree, and unless our brains are fooling us, we’ve lost too many great humans, who used to make this place more bearable.
These are all good but arguable points, though. To millions, this wasn’t just a bad year, but their worse. Our kind thoughts to those broken hearts, to whom a cheerful season tastes like a bitter joke. For they survived not to feel any better but to endure even more of the same.
It’s our condition to mourn and grieve; to lose what we love most, and hold on to what murders our soul. We let go when we’d love to hang on to, and look after what will finally stab us. But there’s payback due even to the afflicted: when we pass away, our troubles are over.
We leave lovers and children behind; a legacy of shattered dreams and failed hopes. But as they cry, we settle; we no longer care even as they may despair. To ashes, as they say, our bodies, clothes, and deeds. But to the left over, misery is the keeper of another day.
There are many whose absence will make us scream. But to others, tomorrow comes out of screams. We may dutifully memorialize our dead, while they have the living wounded to care about. While we lay to rest and say goodbye to dear ones, to those still standing, we may offer are our deepest sentiments.

TO ALEPPO CIVILIANS & DUMPSTER FAMILIES
As we make plans and shop and get happily drunk for the holidays, civilians in Aleppo, Syria, face carnage, ethnic cleansing, random sniper fire, and air raids by government forces, many countries and assorted  militias, plus mercenaries, out waging war to make a buck or two.
Think 2016 was bad? Over 12,000 have already been killed in the country this year, and the survivors wonder whether they’ll be next, just as your sweet niece wonders if she’ll get a brand new phone, or you’ll finally get something decent this time around.
Of course, your family could be one of thousands making a living, and actually residing, in urban garbage heaps around the world. From Cambodia to India, from Brazil to the Philippines, they breathe and, often die, picking through our dejects. Merry, merry, merry.

TO REFUGEE KIDS & VICTIMS OF HATRED
Last year, it was the photo of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, face down on a Turkish beach, that went viral. Now it was the bloodied but alive 5-year-old Mahmoud Raslan. Both Syrian boys unwittingly became symbols of our era’s biggest wound: the fate of millions of refugees.
They could’ve come from anywhere, as the state of permanent war keeps spreading to ever wider swaths of the world. While hawks and weapon makers profit, boys, girls, their families, relatives, friends and neighbors, flee or perish in the crossfire. Once in a while, an image floods our screens. But mostly, they shout but no one hears.
Meanwhile, hate is a booming business in the U.S., and like the Aleppo kids, the 49 shot dead at the Orlando nightclub in June didn’t deserve to stand in from all others still victimized for following their lot in life. To the ones they’ve left behind, this is a season in hell.

TO DEAD WHILE BLACK & FUTURE UNDER ATTACK
The police won’t keep track but over 200 black people were shot dead by cops in 2016. Most were unarmed, whose deaths won’t be vindicated in the court of law. Perhaps in a few years we’ll know how many more could’ve been killed too, if President Obama wasn’t in charge.
It may not seem so but the needle did move forward, and awareness has increased; not even a white supremacist-supported president will prevent the march to justice. We may suffer (more)
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Empire of Only One

When You Build in Solitude
That Which Will Outlast You

No man is an island, wrote John Donne, in what’s now a big, fat cliché. Yet, there’s David Glasheen, living alone on a island for 23 years. And Jadav Payeng, who planted a whole forest on his own. Or Justo Gallego, who built a cathedral by hand.
Then, there’s a man who’s surely envious of the solitude all three find comfort on. Accused of bilking people of their money, his victims found a way of placing his face all over the world, as a casualty of various acts of terrorism, even as he wasn’t near any of them.
Undue exposure as an act of revenge is certainly a modern phenomenon, with social media, and news report manipulation, replacing the shame of standing naked in the public square of Donne‘s times. But each man plays an unwitting, and extreme, role in contemporary society’s drama.
While Glasheen has just about enough of all of us, Payeng has dedicated his life to leaving us a legacy. As Gallego was erecting his monument to devotion, others devised a devilish prank as the only alternative to denounce and get something back out of a con man.

TO WALK OUT OF IT ALL
Not that many would’ve noticed, or cared about it, but when the stock market crashed, on October of 1987, the world lost a few millionaires. Most got quickly back in the saddle, as financiers are won to do. Australian businessman Glasheen took the hint to drop out, and instead, moved to a desert island.
But his is no epic tale, all heart-warming quotes of inspiration and non-conformism. For starters, like most hermits, he’s not very fond of the likes of us. Which is a feeling that comes in handy if  (more)
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Half-Man of Orlando

Not To Be Forgotten (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Of Lives Lost But
Never Extinguished

Every single one of those 49 people shot down in Orlando, Florida, last week, is now worthier remembering than their killer. And so are the other 53 injured. Any of them has now a meaningful story, to be told for generations. But not the shooter.
In fact, when, and if, we’ll manage to finally put aside the hurt and pain of the brutal massacre at the Pulse gay club, all we’ll have to inspire us it’ll be those lives cut short way too early; even their normality surpasses the murderer’s misguided path.
There’s an eerily prescient passage in Virginia Woolf‘s novel about a person who changes sex, Orlando: ‘Nothing can be more arrogant, though nothing is commoner, than to assume that of Gods there is only one, and of religions none but the speaker’s.’
Its deep insight into the nature of belief throws a surprising light on the known life of Omar Mateen and others like him. The fact that comes from a book with such a contemporary subject, despite having been published in 1928, may be more than pure happenstance.
On the other hand, Mateen’s not so well known life may be the other possible motif for the horrific crimes: self-hatred for the fact that he was likely a closet gay man himself. Visits to the club along the years as well as his digital track on gay date apps have attested to that.
The most important revelation, or rather, reaffirmation in the shooting’s aftermath, though, was the abundant grief and solidarity on display all over the world, even at places not exactly considered friendly to gays, such as Russia and the Bible Belt America.
The same world that doesn’t need us to write another digression about pain, or worn out protests against gun availability in the U.S. Thus the post below, which seems appropriate now, because it was written long ago and with absolutely no clear purpose than to express a feeling.
As such, it stands as our humble memorializing of such a tragedy, without even speculating whether it’ll do its part to soothe broken hearts. It’s a meditation on what always winds up happening to deranged killers like this one: utter, complete, and absolute oblivion.

The Shortcomer

A diminutive man is well aware of his stunted existence among giants. Yet, like the tiny droplet that hovers for a moment before the wave crashes back into the sea, he pretends to own the whole vast ocean by reflection. For an instant, all waters exist within his confines.
It’s not up to this half-creature the full arch of a liquid narrative, starting by the infinitesimal grain to its grand end (more)
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