Trump’s Bone Walls

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This post is dedicated to Donald Trump and the many walls he attempts to build between us and within which he resides. An excerpt from my post-apocalyptic book The Bone Wall, it’s an oral history told by a disabled woman named Shy who keeps the stories of the People.

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“In ancient days,” Shy begins, “old books told of gods and angels, devils and deceivers, of the making and breaking of the world.” Her small hands glide though the air as she talks, as if she would paint for us a picture of the words she perceives. She appears not to blink, the light voice of a child smoothly echoing an ancient tale imprinted in her memory long ago. “Prophesies came to pass, books burned to ash, gods and devils long ago dead.” She pauses to swivel her misshapen head, her eyes goggling at Riverwalkers and descendants alike.
*
In the beginning, the greatest of gods created into the formless and empty void, the heavens and earth. Of his eyes, he made the sun and moon, which he set among the white stars that he might behold his creation by light of day and dark of night.
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He toiled to set the clay to spin, the sky to blue and storm. Of his blood, he spilled the rain to carve the rivers and sate the sea. Of his body, he sowed the seeds of life and from his flesh burst a fecund world of plant and tree, laying over the land between the seas a verdant green. He gazed upon the work of his hands and saw it was good.
*
With his breath, he breathed life into the waters of the sea and set it teeming. Breathed life into the winged birds of the sky. Molded with his fingers and breathed into the living creatures that roam the land, each according to their own natures. He gazed upon the work of his heart and saw it was good.
*
And of his thought, he created man in his likeness and woman that he might live in companionship. To them he gave the seed-bearing plants and fruit-bearing trees. To them he granted mastery over the fishes in the seas and birds in the sky and every wild creature that crawls and runs upon the land, that they might shepherd this new world. He gazed upon the work of his dreams and saw it was good.
*
Thus in seven days the heavens and the earth were fashioned in all their vast array.
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In the beginning of the end, what was done would be undone.
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For man in his covetousness forsook the gifts of the great god and bowed to the deceivers who feared not to speak evil of grace and charity, believing themselves their own deceivings. They with feigned words made man a slave of his desires, promised him liberty, when they themselves were the servants of corruption.
*
In pride and greed, man closed his eyes to the shelter of the sky, thus the sun was set to scorch with fire and the moon to chill with ice. In gluttony and sloth, man poured his foul in the rivers and springs of water that flowed to the sea, and every living thing in the sea died and the land dried. In envy and lust, man scourged the life of the fields and forests, and disease broke out on man and beast; thus the land was plunged into plague.
*
In wrath and fear, the deceivers shouted their righteousness into the air. Forsaken and astray, zealous with false beliefs and dread to hope, man took up sword and shield. Flashes of lightning rent the sky, peals of thunder shook the mountains and the great cities of the nations crumbled. Every island drowned as the seas rose up in mighty tides. From the sky, huge hailstones, fire, and ash fell on the People.
*
Thus in seven days the heavens and the earth were broken in all their vast array.
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The deceivers, laden with plunder, sought to escape the pollutions of their creation. In secret voices, they whispered among them: “Let us build these Gardens and stand walls around them. The glory is ours, for we are the righteous and chosen of God; rewarded with license on every side. Why else be blessed with such bounty, but by God’s desire.”
*
Then in slow procession, one for every ten thousand men entered within the walls. One for every ten thousand women abided within the walls. One for every ten thousand children sheltered within the walls. So they found peace within their walls and security within their strongholds, no violence in their land, nor ruin or destruction within their borders.
*
Beyond the walls, the tens of tens of tens of thousands trembled, for terror and fear lay upon the whole land. The fields went fallow, and beasts bore no calves or lambs. The rivers ran with fire, and seas belched up their foul and bloated bodies. Plagues and pestilence befell man and his descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering wars. And the people came to the Garden walls and begged for entrance.
*
And so said the deceivers onto the gathering hordes: “Mighty God, bless us. Saved are we by our devotion to your laws and renunciation of the wicked. We offer no succor among the righteous but cast the sinful from our gates. We deny the tainted and corrupt safe harbor within our moral ranks. We are the merciless sword of your justice, keepers of the covenant, the Saved.”
*
The people in the parched and broken world rose up in fear and desperation, and descended onto the Garden gates. A great horde of fury marched on the mighty walls, those in back pressing blindly on those at the fore until bodies leapt in screaming pillars of flame. They could not save themselves from the power of the walls; just as fire consumes the forest and sets the mountains ablaze, so were they devoured.
*
Ten-thousand times a thousand men blazed upon the walls. Ten thousand times a thousand women flared upon the walls. Ten thousand times a thousand children perished upon the walls. And the white bones clattered and rattled and formed mountainous bone walls around the Gardens of the deceivers so they would be reminded of their own ruination.

The Power of Fear

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“Fear,” the man said. “Fear has long, fine fingers.”

Grigor Phelan found fear intriguing, full of subtleties, an art form one contemplated because nothing of its shape or color or texture was what it appeared. Fear spanned a spectrum from the subtle edge of respect to unbounded terror, and he was most attracted to what lay in between, in the murky hues of human sentiment. He was charmed by the guises of fear, how it hid itself from its host, how it crouched on the rim of consciousness. Like a child’s kaleidoscope, fear proved changeable, multi-faceted, and often lovely as it turned. It might wear the face of generosity or compassion, decency or loyalty, adoration or threat. It could be manipulated by the most benign of words or actions, or pace like a wolf at the edge of a nightfire, seeking a way in.  (Myths of the Mirror)

***

Few will deny that fear is a powerful force. I wrote the above words as the puppeteers geared up for the invasion of Iraq. Fear was the weapon of choice to convince otherwise rational adults to ignore facts and engage in some shock and awe. The Oxford Research Group estimates that 6,700 civilian men, women, and children died during those 3 weeks of “awe.”

Fear is empowering. We all know that invoking the “other” unites us, fires our collective will, and rallies our troops. How thrilling to identify a monster, threaten to lay it low, and scream our slogans. If you want to unite a people behind you, find a common enemy – a racial or ethnic group, a religion or gender, lifestyle or point of view. All other problems, all other responsibilities, every other option falls away.

Few are impervious to fear’s influence, though some are bolder, braver, and willing to see beyond the lurid illusions. No matter how one felt about Barrack Obama’s policies, it’s hard to deny the remarkable fortitude, dignity, and grace he exhibited while facing eight years of fear-based racism, bigotry, smears, and lies. The baseness of the attacks brought a whole nation to a standstill. They accomplished nothing and served no one, least of all the fearful.

Peace, unity, and progress require hard work. Fear is easy. It does away with the pesky time-consuming need for listening, dialog, collaboration, and compromise. It requires no research, no curiosity, no empathy, no diligence, no ethics, no time, no compassion, no truth. It’s so much easier to lay blame, to hide behind righteousness, to repeat the lies, to say what others want to hear, to feed and fan the flames until it becomes the norm for political discourse and cements walls of cynicism and suspicion in place.

Fear is ravenous. It claims those who wield it and makes them slaves to their own words and actions. Few who have unleashed the monster will risk the backlash should they try stuff it back in its cage. Once the beast is fed, it’s safer to keep feeding. Who would have thought kindness requires such courage.

Today, the US votes. I hope that we as a nation aren’t ensnared in fear’s talons. I hope we can stuff it back behind the bars and elect leaders who will knuckle under and start the tremendously hard work of finding solutions to the massive problems riddling our country and the world. This is serious business with lives at risk, real lives that depend on our leaders to stand up against fear and proceed with, at the very least, mutual respect.

What wonders we could achieve if we believed in the power of love.

My one political post for the year. Thanks for listening ❤

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