Live And Let Die
A Gay Opinion 11/05/01
by R.A. Melos
I would like to think I'm a good person, or at least I would like to have thought I was a good person before the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C. on Sept 11th., and I was, basically a good person before that day. I actually sort of cared about my fellow human beings. I didn't like to see human beings being cruel toward one another for no reason, or for what I considered lame reasons, and I would speak up in defense of those who were too frightened to speak up for themselves. I would donate money to causes such as Amnesty International, an organization with the goal of freeing the oppressed and helping those in intolerable conditions.
As I said, I was this way before the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks. Now I find myself questioning my humanitarian beliefs, my live and let live attitude. I watch the news with stories on anti-American rallies in countries I never knew existed, and I hear people crying out against the American retaliatory actions currently going on in a country I associated with a breed of dog, because civilians are being killed, and I find my first thought being "so what?"
I don't like thinking "so what?" when we are talking about human lives being ended by war, and more so when those lives are not soldiers but civilians who just happened to be going about their normal lives when they were killed, but then I think of the more than 6000 people in my own country who were going about their normal lives, and who all died in less than one hour. When I think of those civilians who knew nothing of the later unfolded terrorist plot which took their lives, I begin to think "so what" if a few Afghan civilians get killed?
I know this is not a humanitarian train of thought, or a Pagan way of thinking, yet I have these thoughts and they bother me. They bother me because I can't seem to get beyond them, to get to the place where people care about peace and their fellow human beings. I just keep coming back to the place where I think what if I have been on a plane, or in one of those buildings? What if my cousin hadn't had a meeting in the Chase Building that morning instead of the World Trade Center? What if my next-door neighbor's daughter hadn't gotten out of the building before it collapsed?
I've never liked the "what if" game because it mentally takes you to dark places, and I like the light happy places. Sure you can play the "what if" game as in "what if I won the lottery?" Or, "what if I have the power of invisibility?" But the darker version of the "what if" game is where I seem to be ending up lately.
I don't like to think of myself as this uncaring person who is completely self-centered but, when I see people I know afraid to open their mail because they might get anthrax, I tend to drift toward the cynical side of the road. Part of it is because I feel America, and, by the fact I live in America, me, have been thrust into a situation over which not only do I have no control, but I really don't comprehend.
I don't understand the concept of a religious war, but I have no choice other than to recognize it, because by saying "I'm not a part of this war. I'm a Pagan and I don't harbor any ill will toward Muslims," I'm burying my head in the same sand, which cost more than 6000 people their lives. So now I have to go to the darker side of my "what if" game, and face the darker side of my own nature.
I would love to live in a world where we could at least agree to disagree without blowing up a skyscraper full of innocent people, but I don't live in such a world. I live in a world where people are willing to die for a belief. This in itself astounds me, because I don't even like to inconvenience myself by taking a road detour let alone a major life detour such as these terrorists took on Sept. 11th.
More so, I find I no longer like sitting back and allowing others to be in control. Oh I admit, I've always been a bit of the control fanatic, but now I'm much more of a me person; a person who controls their own destiny and who does not like to know someone, anyone, else is at the steering wheel. I've been forced to rearrange the way I look at and live my life, and one of those views is the way I look at the plight of my fellow human beings.
I know homosexuals would be stoned to death in a backward thinking country, and in part of the so-called forward thinking America as well. Although the said stoning would not be condoned in America as they would be in Afghanistan. Is that a reason to let innocent people be killed? Simply because they have a religious belief which greatly differs from my own? No, it isn't.
Yet, I still find it hard to care about the civilians in a war torn country, because my own country wasn't at war when I saw 6000 civilians murdered. I know a healing process must take place, but I'm afraid the healing is far off in a distant future. For the time being I have to take whatever steps I can to have as much control over my own life as possible, and hope for the best outcome considering how I felt toward those in control prior to Sept. 11th.
Oh, I don't hide it, I've never been a fan of Bush, in any sense of the word, but I'm even less a fan of being blown up or poisoned, so as the Wings song goes, "I used to say live and let live." I know this means I'm more of a self-centered person than I wish to be, but if the choice is going to be them or me, "live and let die."
I hope someday soon this feeling within me changes. I hope I feel less betrayed by the life and the world in which I am living. I hope to once again be able to think of myself as a good person who cares about my fellow human beings. I hope for a world of peace, not a world in pieces, but am afraid this is the way things will be for a long time to come.
I wish us all peace, but am feeling very cynical about it at the moment.