A Week in Reflection

bb-wirThere was a time, when I was much younger, when I was afraid to fly.

No more.

I’m not sure why the change, but since a few decades ago, no longer do I sit white-knuckled in the belly of those big mechanical birds as they defy gravity. Perhaps it’s something to do with my attitude to death. I’m no nihilist, but I don’t necessarily view death in a negative light. My death, that is. The death of others is quite another matter.

The morning after MH17 was shot down, I flew long-haul. I thought not of plane crashes but of the shocking consequences of war, its terrible futility and the immense trauma and devastation that it invariably causes to human lives; of those people left behind, forever suffering the reality of the obliteration of their loved ones. And how this suffering so often leads to an ongoing cycle of violence.

In my hotel room, on the BBC News channel, night after night, images of the crash site alternated with sickening images of Gaza. How to make sense of the human that strolls casually amongst the mutilated dead, picking through aircraft wreckage and strewn personal belongings as if he were evaluating fruit at the local market. And of the human that bombs sleeping children as if crop-spraying pests. How do we get to this?

A week later, on my way to Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport for my flight home, my hosts, who insisted on accompanying me in the taxi to the airport, chatted with the taxi-driver in Vietnamese. I heard the word “Malaysia” and asked if they were talking about plane crashes. They were. And they expressed their alarm that there had been three in one week. I thanked them for their tact, and we all laughed.

Once boarded, I started reading The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh, and thoughts of the taxi conversation were forgotten as the book caused me to reflect on how human memory and the subconscious mind work both for and against us in life: the need for revenge versus the need for peace; how we dehumanize “the other side” to make ourselves feel better about what we do and about humanity as a whole; and how memories play a role in our undoing.

Eventually I slept but was bedeviled by catastrophic dreams – we ditched in the South China Sea, a flotilla of boats waiting to rescue us; we made an emergency landing in a busy city street, the fuel-laden left wing barely missing an advertising bollard; I rescued long-dead loved ones from a burning wreckage in a field of sunflowers..
.. the subconscious mind doing its best to exert control over that over which we have little.

Despite our best efforts, accidents happen; death happens.

But war does not just happen; it is made by humans, the likes of you and me.

bb-wir2

 

 

WPC: Family

You’ve probably heard about elephants mourning their dead, but what about cockatoos?

I often pass this family of cockies on my way to work. They’re usually feeding on seeds on the verge, playfully whirling and wheeling, and creating general cacophonous havoc.

bb-fm0But yesterday, they were crowded around on the road; I drove back to see what they were up to: it was a heartbreaking scene.

bb-fm1They were very quiet except for a few plaintive squeaks and squawks.bb-fm3aOne kept on nudging the lifeless form on the road.

bb-fm4aI wonder if they feel grief.

1For more entries to this week’s challenge, see The Daily Post.

Previous WPC Family theme

Creosote

Is the scent

of an ancestor’s skull kicked
down a bush runway -
an elephant remembers

bones and dust,

the echo of hyena
comedy nights, jaws
on buffalo bones

chalk and dust,

a tall silhouette beyond the runway -
a blind man – inhales the dusk
for ghost-lions
before crossing to light
the camp fire

blood and dust

in the dark, leopards
gaze at embers
of an ancient story

fate throws the bones,
a plane flies

into a hillside

flesh and blood,
bones and dust,

and creosote.

Divine Dementia

So many days
we are beyond bereft

at some ancient
god’s puzzled mumbles
beneath the night lamp,

his tremulous finger-fumbles
with jigsaw fragments
of our lives,

his fearful look of surprise
at the countless missing pieces
of his Master Plan,

unaware of the devil dog
chewing at his feet.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/nyregion/gunman-kills-20-children-at-school-in-connecticut-28-dead-in-all.html?hp&_r=0

http://jmgoyder.com/2012/12/15/children/

http://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/an-unblossomed-bloom/

http://thelaughinghousewife.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/no-humour-today/

http://susandanielspoetry.com/2012/12/14/body-bags/

Don Ritchie – R.I.P.

Don Ritchie, The Angel of The Gap, has passed away

Repost

Angel of The Gap

He looks out at the sparkling sea

and drinks his morning cup of tea

But there’s a shadow to his left,

the darkness of a soul distressed

He knows now he must move with haste

to stop a life from going to waste

“This time, this one, perhaps,” he thinks,

“maybe, I ‘ll pull back from the brink”

The Angel of  The Gap, at dawn,

heads out once more across his lawn

to offer balm, a light to see

a way out from their misery,

to coax them not to end it all

and save them from that fatal fall

http://www.smh.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-1yoat

Never be afraid to speak to those who you feel are in need.

Always remember the power of the simple smile, a helping hand, a listening ear and a kind word.”

Don Ritchie, OAM