Tuesday, July 12, 2011
"My war gone by, I miss it so": Violent death revisited
Where was I during the Bosnian War? How come I didn't know anything about what actually went on during the breakdown of the former Yugoslavia? Was it because I was busy dealing with raising children and working in a law office and teaching at juvenile hall? Or because the internet hadn't been available back in 1992? Nope, those are all lame excuses. There is no excuse, no excuse at all for not following international politics. Whatever happens to anyone anywhere in the whole wide world will always come back to bite everyone else on this planet in the [bottom], so it's humongously important to be on top of all world affairs.
But not to worry. Almost 20 years later, I'm finally catching up on what really happened during the Bosnian War. Better late than never. I'm currently reading Anthony Lloyd's excellent book on the subject, "My War Gone By, I Miss it So".
According to Lloyd, who was a British war correspondent during that whole sad affair, this terrible war in the former Yugoslavia basically began when bad guys at the top started hate campaigns among various segments of the Yugoslav population so that said bad guys could get everyone there hatin' on everyone else and then seize all the money and power. Just like what's happening in America today, ya think? Duh.
Anyway, Lloyd got so hooked on the resultant adrenalin-rush war mentality that comes from constantly living on battlefields that when the war was over he then spiraled down into deep depression. That sounds familiar too. Apparently 17 returning American veterans a day attempt to commit suicide after coming home from the brutal resource wars in Afghanistan, Iraq. etc.
But the most horrifying thing about Lloyd's book is its description of the wanton and vicious violence that took place in the former Yugoslavia -- among people who had actually known each other all their lives and had even been friendly before the war. Vicious hate campaigns waged by the bad guys had successfully turned neighbor against neighbor. Old school chums began torturing and killing each other. People who had lived side by side all their lives suddenly began massacring their former friends' sons, hacking ears off their neighbors' daughters' dead bodies and gang-raping their former acquaintances' wives. That kind of thing. Stupid brutality. Violent deaths. Locally grown. Hate campaigns gone too far. Be careful what you wish for.
And speaking of violence, I always wanted to have a peaceful death at home in my bed -- not getting blown up by a land mine or taken out by a sniper or bleeding to death after having been tortured or having been raped and left for dead in a burning building or getting hit by a drone or.... You get the picture.
However if one IS forced to face such a violent death, how does one still manage to escort oneself over the threshold into Heaven? I have the answer to that one. As you die, alone and terrified, you simply take both of your hands (if they haven't been already blown off yet) and give yourself one big last goodbye hug.
According to Anthony Lloyd's account of it, the Bosnian War was a nightmare. Let's fight hard to make sure that nothing like that ever happens here too. Let's purge our government of all power-thirsty hate-spewing blood-lusting war mongers now -- while we still have our arms left to hug with. And before the currently-unimaginable actually happens and America becomes just one more senseless Bosnia too.
PS: I'm still studying up on the Japanese healing art of Jin Shin Jyutsu. And at first it looks very complex -- but when you break it down into its essence, basically it consists of giving yourself hugs and holding your own hand if there's no one else there to do it for you.
So now you know that you will never have to be afraid of death -- either peaceful or otherwise -- because you can always hold your own hand and escort YOURSELF through the Pearly Gates. Or if you can't hold your hands for some reason, then just play footsie with yourself. Or if you can't move anything below your neck, then just put your tongue on the roof of your mouth and hug your tonsils. Or whatever.
My point here is to never be afraid of death because you always have yourself to keep yourself company when death comes. And chances are that you will be good (enough) company too.
PPS: When I was a war correspondent in Iraq, I had the pleasure of meeting David Pratt, a Scottish journalist who had also reported on the Bosnian war and as a veteran journalist was gracious enough to help me find my way as a newbie. "No, the DFac is over that way, Jane."
Being a war correspondent can be addictive. I would still love to be one -- but can't afford it any more. Being a war correspondent is pricy these days. In any case, here's a wonderful article written by Pratt that tells us a bit about that kind of life: http://www.heraldscotland.com/mobile/comment/david-pratt/war-reporting-what-it-s-really-like-1.1107478
"I once watched a man dying in agony," wrote Pratt. "It was in Afghanistan, I was crouching behind a low wall during a mortar attack and he lay in front of me, eyes bulging like those of a dying hen, his left leg trailing from a string of tendon in a puddle of blood and muck. I will never forget the look on his face. That was 17 years ago. More recently, in Libya last March, I found myself lying behind another tiny wall, once again waiting for a bombardment, wondering whether this time I too might end up like that Afghan man. On both occasions, as on many others in between, I distinctly remember asking myself: what the hell am I doing here?"
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