Friday, May 14, 2004

gouge away

so i watched the video of nick berg being beheaded. i am not sure why, other than the usual desire to prove i'm the toughest one in the room. he was from pennsylvania, my state of origin. i was curious, in my usual cat-like way, as well.

i can't say i regret it, but it left a mark on me. it was only in a little 2X3 browser window, and was thankfully fuzzy enough in spots to spare some details. but it was horrific all the same. it took a seemingly interminable amount of time for the grisly deed to be done. i guess i won't say any more. if you want to see it, go here. but i don't recommend doing so.

it didn't make me physically ill so much as more heartsick than ever. the computer i watched it on thankfully didn't have sound, but i know from reading accounts of the clip that he is screaming and his five assassins are screaming "allah is great" even louder. it made me really ponder the evils religion has visited upon this planet. it seems like belief in god or some other existence beyond this one should not be so terrible. but once people start organizing around it, things get weird and destructively fucked-up ... fast.

maybe religion "works" because it provides humans with another legitimate way to damage each other. (you know, like marriage.) this 21st-century crusade has me dangerously close to concluding that people exist only to destroy each other. maybe we are some kinda experiment gone horribly awry -- i wouldn't doubt it for a second. because somehow, as much as we slaughter each other in alarming numbers on a daily fucking basis, we are reproducing ourselves into oblivion even faster. (like i said -- humanity: born to kill.)

my misanthropic tendencies are not nearly as pronounced as they have ever been, and i actually don't like feeling this way about humanity. i want to say that people are basically good, and in small groups are kind to each other and whatnot, and so they have some redeeming qualities, but i am beginning to feel that the human norm is pain. any relationship that manages to endure without savaging the souls of all involved is a rare thing of beauty indeed. mostly, you get people suffering the known for fear of the unknown, enduring the cuts that chip away at their beings ... even when they think they are used to it. or they pretend it isn't happening. a very popular choice.

macro and micro, physically and spiritually, we are murdering each other as good as we can. not just slaying but hacking off limbs and finding new creative ways to torment one another to death. on battlefields and in bedrooms, tv screens and street corners, people rip each other apart. sometimes without saying a single word. is it the war that infects everything, the collective scent of bloody vengeance forced into our nostrils? or does the war only underscore the same old ancient urges, still somehow imprinted in our DNA, hurtling us toward destination: oblivion, despite our removal from the actual fray.

maybe that's why i watched poor nick berg get his head hacked off. i wanted to bear witness somehow. this war is so far away -- like they've all been, more or less -- and yet it is killing us here, to say nothing of the people in whose country it's actually taking place. in vastly different ways, of course, but the souls of two nations are at stake. iraqi hatred solidifies into even more entrenched desires to destroy us infidels forever ... american self-righteousness stops at nothing, not even aping its trumped-up enemy, to assert our interests there (while conveniently destroying the infidels as well). i see the self-righteousness all the time, whenever someone in the bush administration opens his/her mouth. it never ceases to amaze me, how they still flog the patriotism thing (although i see more bumper stickers all the time: "dissent is patriotic"; i love that) and even the "playing divisive politics" thing.

on the other hand, the hatred was fairly breathtaking for an entirely other reason. the video was strangely mundane to a point; the five masked terrorists stood for a long time, one of them reading a statement, with berg kneeling in front of them in his orange jumpsuit (so eerily reminiscent of american jail togs), before anything happened. then ... well, some hours after watching the clip i found myself wondering about the men who did it. what kind of a person does that, butchers a man so resolutely? the truth is, any kind of person. a monster, sure, in a certain way. but monsters are human, too. maybe we're all monsters ... everyone has the ability to destroy someone. a lot of us use it.

but of course i don't believe i'm a monster, although i often don't think i'm a very good person. many would disagree -- but some wouldn't. i'm sure most people, even the monsters, don't think they're horrible either. probably that's even true: most of the time, people aren't monsters. but we do seem to be in no short supply of folks who are happy to cause or orchestrate suffering on all manner of catastrophic levels. i mean, i adore the utopian fantasy of star trek. a world without money or strife -- great! but lately i don't see how destruction can ever be removed from the basic human equation. we are savages to the core.

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