Sunday, April 13, 2014

peace may not be our natural state


I'm realizing more and more that peace may not be the natural state. Yes: war, conflict, fighting; natural disasters, storms, earthquakes, decay, disease. We human animals delude ourselves with illusions of safety, even as the evidence mounts that we really are anything but safe.
Dark thoughts for a brilliantly sunny Sunday, no?
The suicide of a few weeks ago still percolates in my brain. And my neighbor's domestic violence. On Tuesday, a friend and I, en route to a meeting, came across the scene of an accident. A woman lay on paved tiles, curled up and sobbing. Another woman knelt beside her, bike helmet in hand, bike parked nearby. She had just struck the prone woman with her bike. Blood dripped from the crying woman's head. The cops had been called, also the struck woman's husband. We could do nothing but stand there, apologetic. By the time we left our meeting an hour later, paramedics had come and gone, with nothing left but a damp spot on the tiles.
On Friday, I met another friend for coffee at 9am. When we left the coffee shop about 9.25, a cop car sat outside the Wells Fargo bank next door, lights flashing. Bank robbery, haha, we said. Back at the office, an alert had gone out. Bank robbery at the Wells Fargo. I e-mailed my friend. Holy shit, he e-mailed back. I saw the guy when I was walking to meet you right before 9.
Today on the bus, as we waited for the Fremont Bridge to rise and fall, a young blond guy said loudly, Has anyone been to the Space Needle recently?
No, a few of us murmured.
I was just there. A guy set himself on fire, the young guy said, his voice flat. He didn't die, but--his face. I was right there.
Gasps.
Why'd he do it? I said.
He was saying political stuff, about the government.
Are you okay? another rider said.
He hesitated. I'm okay.
And yet, an hour later, looking at the news--nothing. It seemed believable, but apparently it wasn't true.
*
A good friend has "paci-fist" tattooed on his knuckles, four letters each hand in typewriter font. I love how he plays with the notion of peace through ink violently incorporated into his skin.

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