Tuesday 17 November 2015

Processing Tragedy

Because of the design of social media, it's so easy to get caught up in the notion
 that it is our duty to articulate response to everything we see.

No longer can we seem to fight the urge to add our two cents, when a topic for debate is dangled so tantalisingly before us. Yet, the fact we seem to forget about so many of these things we're so inclined to weigh in on:

"It's not about you."

This week has seen such great tragedy, and even greater social conflict in lieu of it. Bizarre one upmanship of 'who cares the most', every Facebook friend unveiling their individual press releases for their own personal brands of politics, cyber wars waging between people campaigning for the same cause but not articulating it 'correctly'.

And the painful irony is that none of this is about us, sitting on our laptops on our sofas, preaching the rights and the justices of those who are dying everyday, those who have already lost their lives... but there's no greater unity than fear. 

And I'm trying to remember this vulnerability when I see endless people react so heartlessly, so callously, so wrongly, some even finding any way to relate these tragedies back to their own untouched lives. What is the appropriate human response for something so inhuman?

Everybody is afraid.

I've tried to refrain from uttering anything about this situation, because I believe any words I could find, echoed endlessly by people in my same position, just mean so little. Instead of polluting the world with more identical phrases, I've stayed silent. Just watching, listening and trying to process, just like everybody else.

But the sheer horror of such a devastating thievery of life is inescapable, and I feel so many sentiments bubbling under the surface that I don't know what to do with. Nowhere I say them will these words be of any use but they are spilling out of me in disjointed sentences anyway.

So I'll say my one thing, in a condensed form which requires intense consideration and purpose behind every word. This is equally for the living as it is for the dead. It is for the departed souls who are so afraid and so lost, and those who wish they knew where their loved ones had gone. And yeah, even for the people who this situation is nothing about, like me, it's a reassurance, so desperately sought, too.

It's what I like to think happens after death, the moment of darkness between lights, as one life comes to a close, and death guides you to your next.

And in the words of writer Stephen Burt:

"It would not be the first time a poet had written the poem that he wanted to hear."


Come forward now, child, and follow my voice.
The echoes of fresh history have delivered you to me, 
and it’s okay to cry because you do not understand why.

Look backward now, child, do you know what you see?
Watch the supernova of your eternity fuse into completion, 
but take not sorrow from the last of your abandoning form.

Step toward me now, child, the dark is no home for you. 
See how your fingertips fade and footsteps melt,
as you come closer, come further from all of your Before.

This afterward, child, a dark of injustice, but a void that I fill. 
And as your shadows shed and features fall,
I will carry you into the night, if only to show you the dawn.

Look onward now, child, as post-present becomes past. 
See how the dim light grows from the shade where you fell, 
hear the revolutionary hum which guides feet to fresh earth.

For like passing between rooms in the shadows, I am the moment between the lights.

And duty calls for my return, child, as new hands find purchase, on the second switch.