Monday, January 16, 2006

The Stroke

I pour myself a tumbler of The Glenlivet Scottish whiskey. The favorite drink of the genocidal generals in Rwanda.

That calamity not so far off as I'd like to push it.

I have never killed a person.
I have never stopped a person from killing.
I have never stopped a person from being killed.

The title "General" is of absolute fascination to me. General, as in "ordinary, everyday, status quo." Military semantics bespeak the unmistakable motive of warmakers. Those who lead others into slaughter are our neighbors. They are the nothing-special-don't-look-twice-it could-be-you type of people. The "General," the face of war.

Though military "mavoevers" are carried out every minute across the planet, the "Generals" are not ordinary, these days especially. So many of the wars they wage are directed against peoples without the coincidence of a standing army. What has become more general, actually, is a resistence to military occupation and "exercises" (don't you just love the language) by those people who really are our neighbors. The new generals.

I wonder what Ariel Sharon drinks. What he eats. What caused his brain to burst that blood vessel? Was it, could it be, that the consciousness of Sabra, Chatilla, of the Nazi-emulating Phalange continually grew to the point of rupture?

I wonder what he drinks?

I wonder if it's taken his brain this long to erupt with the realization that no top-shelf scotch, no fine suit, no shining shoes can push the calamity far enough away.

General.

Everyday.

I have never killed a person.
I have never stopped a person from killing.
Never stopped a person from being killed.

I wonder why, if hundreds of millions of people can make these same baseline claims of human decency, still so many others are slaughtered on the daily?

Why bombs drop on the families on the way to market. Why the Private pushes the button and a bullet breaks through the stained-glass window in the Church of the Nativity on its way to the heart of a young Palestinian man?

One man among billions.

Did he ever kill? Prevent killings?

Did he drink?

Was he general?

And his killer?

I was near him. I helped ferry food to his friends. Everyday I walk the streets and wonder who has walked them before. Who has died there before?

Harry owns Ja-Don's barbershop on Franklin Ave. He gave me a fade two weeks ago. His son was shot and killed this time last year. At 2.oo in the afternoon, in the middle of the street outside of Ja-Don's.

Harry drinks. He cuts hair. He gave his son life. He couldn't prevent his son's killing.

He's general.