Friday, August 22, 2014

Death and War

With the deaths from ebola in Africa soaring and so much else painful happening in the world today I’m not sure why I have been hit so hard by the news of the beheading of American journalist Jim Foley. It consumes my waking hours. I imagine I am him, and try to speculate how Id have the courage to face the inevitable, as he did. And with such grace.
What does it feel like to know you are about to be beheaded? At what point does one finally give up hoping for a miracle reprieve? A minute before death? An hour before? A day before?  As terrorists  demand higher and higher ransoms, and sometimes succeed, it seems this vicious practice of torture and kidnapping just accelerates. 

In psychology we call it transference and counter transference, that is when the patient so identifies with the therapist that feelings are merged. I think back to when I was a senior in a country high school, the editor of the tiny school newspaper. I thought I was pretty big stuff. I had vague dreams of being a photo journalist and travelling the world writing stories of far off places and things. I kept these dreams to myself even though I entered the University of Washington in 1948 as a Journalism Major. That dream lasted less than two weeks, as I realized I could never compete with the other 749 freshmen who had elected the same major. Flunking out of school was not my passion. 

Yesterday and today I weigh two thousand pounds. My legs drag., even on the treadmill. Whether I’m shampooing my skinny locks, reading a book for pleasure instead of the one assigned for Book Club, having an ultra sound of my heart as I did yesterday or attending a board meeting where as usual I express too many of my liberal opinions, I can’t seem to shake my obsession. Old as I am, I think of death often, and almost playfully imagine it coming with a gentle ending of the breath followed by quiet oblivion rather than such a violent insult to the already tortured body of an innocent human being as it was for Jim Foley. 

For many years I wrote a Christmas letter ending with 
“and my hope for the new year is one without war”.  Finally discouraged with that, I, an atheist, tried to be a Quaker in my heart, committed to a personal life of peace. I’m afraid I’m pretty much a failure at that, as well. Right now I’m filled with anger and retribution. 

Wednesday afternoon I attended the orientation session here for the new classes to be offered by the Organization for Lifelong Learning from Sonoma State. I may or may not take the one on the First World War. The fine lecturer promised that session six would be on lessons learned to prevent future wars. Hah! 

Sometimes I imagine a world in which testosterone were a hormone exuding peace, and all men (as well as women) would be born with an innate drive against violence. Wishful thinking, Bonnie, wishful thinking. And so I add this protesting  voice once more. What can we do to end war? 

Two weeks of dwelling on death in my blog seems over the top. Next week I promise to be upbeat! 

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