Nowhere to go

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

STREWN amid fields of sunflower gold are the mangled bodies of victims of the air crash. They lie there misshapen and contorted, blank eyes staring skyward where they came from.

Two hundred ninety-eight dead but when did life escape them? Is it at the moment of the projectiles explosion which tore through their airship and their bodies? Or is it after the free fall, an unheard thud on the ground signaling their release from this mortal coil?

They have not even been named yet; they have been quickly transformed into anonymous pawns, mute chess pieces in the geopolitical game of the East and the West. But there was a young family of four who have left an empty home in their neighborhood never to return. Or young lovers who are frozen in time in a tight horrified embrace, their parents fighting against the image of their violent dismemberment in their current nightmarish waking hours.


A few leagues away are another wasteland of dreams and young innocent lives. Death this time occurs on the ground from the sky. Rockets and shells rain down on their homes, playgrounds, and hospitals in indiscriminate waves of hurt and violence.

Four boys playing on the beach dead in a flash of ordnance and smoke as stunned journalists watched in horror. These people are pounded to the ground in the name of the contested earth where they, perpetrator and victim, commonly sprung. Here, they are named as Palestinians – a name that has come to mean how little humanity is left in our hearts in this world.

How do we get out of here?

No, we can’t because there is nowhere to go. That was the reply of the Palestinian father as he left his war-torn neighborhood with his young child to god-knows-where. That must have been also the silent scream of the passengers as their plane disintegrated 32,000 feet in the air. This is also where we all are in our shared world that is careening toward uncontrolled barbarism.

Imagine that we are all fellow travelers on this pale blue dot floating amid the vast expanse of space. Given the relative size of the multiverse where we are a part of, all of us are practically neighbors in this singular planet we inhabit. And yet we regard each other with so much hatred and scorn to afflict each other with this degree of mindless violence. Sadly, we have also evolved practices of indifference to ignore if not tolerate this scale of suffering in our midst.

A pale blue dot enduring the weight of all this human suffering. The slaves of Africa, the murdered natives of South America, the peasantry under the feudal yoke and the working class and the peoples of the third world victimized by unbridled capitalism and imperialism – these are the stuff that black holes and dark matter are made of. At some point, this earth is going to implode from the weight of all the collected historical anguish we have amassed as a species.

But before that happens, we must also seek to understand. Before the world implodes from all the weight of human suffering, we must know why this has been so. And no, we must not play into the propaganda of those who perpetuate inequality for their own gain. No, we must not shrug this off because this state of affairs is reportedly the end of history. No, just because others flinch before the cold hard truth that this reign of barbarism is systematic and historical.

Let us be courageous enough to see the big picture instead of navel gazing the specificities of these harrowing events. Let us not hind behind the blinders of the dominant discourse of temporality and compromise. All these necessarily require a return to big theory – a kind of understanding that would put a name to this historical suffering whose hallmark is the anguish of most for the benefit of the few. We have nowhere else to go.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 22, 2014.


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