In one of my posts last year, while still deep in the throes of an anguish induced by heartbreak, I wrote about booby-traps: ones of the heart and mind, and also the very literal ones. We all, as part of the human condition, have experienced the emotional booby-trap. The booby-trap is something you come across unexpectedly, which detonates, triggered by your presence, maiming, terrorizing and causing damage and pain. It could be a simple thing like a song which stirs up unwanted memories and emotions, or a photograph or a specific scent or the mention of a person’s name, or, as is in my case this time, a saved message on your smartphone. This week I came across an email I had sent to LA Woman. Damned if I didn’t still feel…discomfort…when her name came up on my screen, and then as I read the mail, an accompanying barrage of unpleasant emotions and sad, pathetic memories. It irritates me most mightily that she and the events from last year still have the power to cause me pain. Seriously, WTF! It burns the hell out of me that someone or something so negative has that power over me.
When I read the email there was a momentary numbness, then discomfort, and then the afore-mentioned barrage of unpleasant emotions brought on by the sad, pathetic memories of that day. I remember sitting in Dubai Airport, my stop-over on my way back to South Africa. This was after my first visit to the USA, and I remember being in that sort-of surreal, disconnected funk that is brought on by being totally overwhelmed by events and circumstance. I had just spent 4 days with LA Woman in Los Angeles and was returning to South Africa, knowing that my life would never be the same again, that absolutely everything had changed. Everything (but me) was up in the air, so I did what I do when I am in those sort of circumstances: I wrote. I write, it is what I do. And it was this email that I found, and which I detonated.
—— SMS ——
Sent: Apr 10, 2012 14:42
Subject: Baby I want u to know that I love…
Baby I want u to know that I love u sooooo much and this time with u just re-enforced this<3. Please u have no need to feel insecure: that ring is a promise ring and it stands for my promise of my love for u and my intent to come back to u so that we can be together forever<3. Just love me and support me and tell me u love me and I will b there soon my angel<3.
Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom – let your email find you!
Let me tell you about the nature of these devices, and I am referring to booby-traps and landmines now. Their purpose is not to end you, their purpose is to cause chaos and pain, to cripple and maim, to scar and disfigure, to provide on-going damnation. They unsettle and demoralize. Their purpose is for the victim to be a living reminder of their power, of their reach. And now I am talking about the literal device. Having grown up in apartheid South Africa, and having spent almost 3 years in its armed forces, I can boast of a more than passing acquaintance with booby-traps and similar devices, and their handiwork. As children we were made very aware that packages and boxes left unattended were to be avoided and reported immediately. Regular news headlines reminded us as to why; shopping malls, bars, schools were targeted by the ANC in the apartheid era. And this is the problem I have with these so-called freedom fighters of war in any country. I get the thinking behind it, attack the population so they are aware of, and share in your plight, but to me it just seems cowardly. If you are a fighter and a soldier, take on another soldier. Blowing up a child is just wrong and you can try and justify it as much as you want. The United States is now experiencing what South Africa went through in the 70s and 80s; a defenceless public threatened by hidden attackers, booby-traps.
The latest case in point is the Boston Marathon Bombing on April 15 of this year which, killed at least three people and injured more than 140. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the bombers, wrote that his actions were in retaliation for the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, the rationale being, “when you attack one Muslim, you attack all Muslims”. At this point I would like to clarify one thing: I am not targeting ANY religious, political, or race group in this post! I can certainly sympathise with their causes; the uprising against the apartheid regime, resisting American colonialism. BUT if you have a problem with a bully do you go and beat up his sister? If you have a problem with an armed force or a government’s policies take it up with them, don’t blow up so poor schmuck who is just going for a run with his mates or a mother and her children. In my books you are weak and cowardly and do nothing for your cause but bring it dishonour and shame. I will use an example of a situation that I am very familiar with, the war of liberation here in South Africa. I am here to tell you that I was totally against the Nats and what they did to this country with their apartheid ideologies, but I believe that the ANC’s armed struggle did little to overthrow it. It was their political orchestrations which achieved this, most importantly the isolation of the White South African State and the implementation of sanctions against it. To call a man a soldier and a hero of the cause for sneaking into a bar and leaving a bomb in order to blow up some poor schmo who is there having a drink, seeking some solace and respite from his pathetic life, is just ridiculous. Let me tell you about governments, they will sacrifice as many of those schmo’s as you care to blow up without too much due concern. The fact is that the bomber is, in fact, playing right into their hands and granting them more power; a country under direct attack and threatened by an outside source will close ranks and unite! If you want to get to a government, hit them in their pockets and wallets, essentially it’s all about the money! It was all about that in South Africa then, and still is now with ANC politicians looting State coffers. I am certain there is a trail of money to be followed in this situation with the US and Muslim countries. There always is, Michael Moore, he of Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) fame, certainly seems to think so.
So now we have Boston, one of the oldest cities in the USA, home to some of the finest educational institutions in the world and, ironically, setting for several of the keys events in American’s own fight for freedom. Monday in Boston was, in fact, Patriots’ Day, a holiday unique to New England that brings the region’s rich history alive with re-enactments of those afore-mentioned events in the American Revolution: the battles of Lexington and Concord that marked the beginning of the Revolution. It is a school holiday and for the approximately 23,000 runners from around the world, the day caps months spent training, preparing to test their bodies and spirits. Normally when it’s over, as is usual for any large sporting event, I am sure the participants would wander through the streets, proudly wearing medals or celebrating in restaurants and pubs. Not that night though, and I am sure even after months of training to earn a Marathon medal, it would have felt wrong to wear the medal as if there was something to celebrate. Attempted Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, said “If the United States does not get out of Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries controlled by Muslims, we will be attacking [the] U.S.”
The truth is extremists of any religion or political group will find a reason to hate, to kill, to disrupt and bully, no matter what you do. If it wasn’t the US presence in these countries then it would be something else, perhaps Christian religious minority groups or Western books or junk foods that they would find threatening and pledge jihad against. In South Africa, the Afrikaans Calvinistic government found communism and non-White race groups to point their hate at, in Nazi Germany it was the Jew, these days it is the Muslim or the American who is being targeted by groups of extremists. The fact is humans in a group are generally a bad thing, they may start off with the best intentions but they almost always end badly: religions and governments are certainly very good examples of this.
Interestingly (creepily?), I was to run the Boston Marathon with LA Woman’s father this year, he being from there and having run it a number of times himself. I wonder if I had been there what would have happened? What role would I have played in the drama of the bombing? Victim or hero or onlooker? I wonder how her father felt when he witnessed the desecration of this institution of his city of birth and of all his fond memories? I only pray that he wasn’t there in the city and at the race, and is alright, because as I have mentioned, I was really fond of him. The things we humans do to each other!
Me at a school track meeting, running. I run a lot. Whether I’m running toward something or away from it, I’m not too sure. Perhaps it’s both? (see image below)