Friday, February 6, 2015

Moath al-Kasasbeh

Some days are shit. I slept as much as I could to get over my cold. It didn't work. I ended up trying to cancel an appointment ...

I know you don't want to hear what I have to say about my day. A man was burned alive and it was displayed on the Internet. What could I possibly say that is worse than that? Mine are pedestrian woes, walking the dog in endless rain, waiting too long for my prescription, playing my little game on my phone at stop lights, loading laundry and dishes, laundry and dishes, and laundry.

So different for this man, burning against terror while someone planned his video.

I didn't watch the footage. Did you? Could you sit through the whole thing? I didn't even want to hear the description on the radio. Yet I paused in my car to listen before I went out through the rain to get mechanical pencils and sheet protectors for Nick's binder. My life, pedestrian, ordinary, monotone. I thought about this man. Did he have a family? Who was he? Why was he chosen for this barbaric act? What was the purpose of it? How could there be purpose in this?

Against my trivial existence, this man's story ends in chaos, Dante's Inferno, humanity's depravity? What was the reason? Could any reason justify this act? Will this act change my life?

Yes, hopefully it will. First of all, I want to know the man's name.

The man's name was Moath al-Kasasbeh. I want to try to remember his name.

Next, I want to know about this man's family. His father, Safi al-Kasasbeh pleaded for his return, not knowing that his son had already been executed. This father begged, saying that his boy was a modest and religious Muslim who prayed, a boy who memorized the Quran. His father said he was never harmful to anyone. Moath al-Kasasbeh was among eight children. He was from Jordan. He flew planes. He prayed. Moath al-Kasasbeh was only twenty-seven years old.

A man loves his son, calls him precious. That is what I want to change me, that voice, the voice of the father, Safi al-Kasasbeh, talking about his precious, precious son. That is worthy of my attention. That is worthy of change to my plain life.

Third, I must think about pain, evil, and why such a thing can ever happen. I can't imagine being so angry as to plucking someone out of the sky, torturing him this way, and boasting about it by putting footage of it on the Internet. How do you grow from being an innocent child to being capable of this heinous act? These are inconceivable acts that humanity does to humanity, sometimes in the name of righteousness or religion. There is nothing righteous about this act, nothing sacred or religious or justified. Nothing.

There is such evil in our human souls. Could any depth of fury would make me do something like this? Is every human capable of such an act? What would it take? That knowledge should change me.

It's important to ask what could cure this kind of fury? Could anything? Or are we all so fucked as to forever repeat our violence, one generation after another, one culture clashing with another, all the hatred of all the different types of people, women, men, Black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Native American, immigrant, gay, straight, Republican, Democrat. Why do we fear and revile the other? Contemplating that should change me.

And last, I need to change by standing with the father, Safi al-Kasasbeh in his grief. I am a mother. I can try to understand the pain that Safi al-Kasasbeh is enduring. He has a larger family now. We have all lost our beautiful, precious son.

I am Charlie. I am a teacher in Sandy Hook. I am a Jew in a concentration camp. I am a mother in a Japanese internment camp. I am a Cherokee on the Trail of Tears. I am a Chinese immigrant being used up to lay railroad. I am an Irish immigrant bringing my family away from the potato famine toward discrimination and hatred. I am a Muslim who lost her precious son.

Can we be this man's family? Can we stand with Safi al-Kasasbeh and mourn his loss? Can we celebrate his son's short life and the boy's peaceful nature? Can we pray for his family, for his soul?

Can we remember Moath al-Kasasbeh? Can we? I can at least pause for a moment in the sweetness of my life, and try.

Thank you for listening, jb

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