Aden was a pleasant memory. And then things changed. Yesterday, March 04, 2016, I happened to note on the BBC news an article about the shootings, the brutality. So very different from my childhood memory of Aden, 1963. Yesterday, nineteen people in an old age home, many of them the caring nuns, were first handcuffed, and then shot in the head. Deliberately. And for me the horror of it, even so far away, continues to resonate. My souvenir of a beaded belt (on which Aden is spelt, kept all these 50 plus years,) hangs on the wall in my studio. It was a memoir of alien innocence. Now it is a memoir of alien sin. And sin, for me, is defined by intentional harm.
Lists of the brutal and bad people in our history are easily made. Hitler. Idi Amin. Pol Pot. Stalin. Among others. It is the intentional infamy behind their crimes that resonates. That, and the sheer amount of people they've affected. Will a Donald Trump be next? A surprising many are against Obama. Yes, history will show the record of a person’s progress. Boadicea. Eva Peron. Hillary Clinton. Alexander. Napoleon. Justin Trudeau. But what of the individual recruit or conscript into an Army that then threatens the family and welfare of all concerned with the inductee for disobedience? And what of individual actions by a single person forced to carry a bomb, a gun, carry out a horrific command? How does time treat that person, and why are so many intentionally harmful acts, evil acts, so readily committed and so easily forgotten? Who forces whom? What small acts do I not do?
Forgotten? Yes, it is now the 8th day of March, 2016. Aden, for me, fell on March 04. Who recalls that ‘bit of news’? Who is there among those I know that are affected by this tragedy of handcuffing and shooting nuns and elders? Who knows of or has ever been to Aden? Who else 'feels' this tragedy?
Forgotten? Yes: “Boudica's husband Prasutagus ruled as a nominally independent ally of Rome and left his kingdom jointly to his daughters and the Roman emperor in his will. However, when he died his will was ignored, and the kingdom was annexed. Boudica was flogged, her daughters raped, and Roman financiers called in their loans.
In AD 60 or 61, when the Roman governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus was campaigning on the island of Anglesey off the northwest coast of Wales, Boudica led the Iceni, the Trinovantes, and others in revolt.” ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boudica
Time smudges on. Other things take our interest. We grow not necessarily indifferent, not really insensitive, not actually ignorant, but we grow accepting and including and absorbing and come to integrate all that happened and happens as part of the deal of living. The deal? Yes, there is nothing perfect, nothing absolute (except taxes and death), and there is nothing guaranteed. You live; ‘you takes yer chances.’ Oversensitivity (particularly in Dabrowskian terms) will cripple you. The daily news is too full of horror and pain and insuperable accounts of grim and gore. We are making history. It won’t ever be a verdant tapestry of paradise. The lion and the lamb and the dragon and the bear will not be friends.
I see through my father’s glasses. He died in 2004. I have the pair of spectacles that were taken off his fallen body and placed on a shelf. And just today, this morning, I fished them out for the first time from my own history and through his view saw my 1963 Aden belt yet again. Clearly. Dad and I were once there, in Aden, then in Egypt, then in... but who really cares? We see through our own eyes. And history, in the end, is the collective visions of mankind. We make of life as we will, until our own end. It’s an individual that must make choices. Now there’s challenge that can appear alien, indeed.