I woke up too early this morning, partly because I’ve been skipping my chiropractor, partly because I ditched my cleaning lady to pay for horse boarding, partly because I have story chomping at my brain and it wanted to tell me about the next transition at 3AM. So at five I gave up, got up, made coffee, got ready to start my day an hour and a half early. I did my usual spin across the internet, poking at news sites and blogs, and the next thing I know, I wind up looking at this. And this.
This is one of the scores of signs being held in peaceful demonstrations in Libya in response to the attack on the US Embassy. Apparently Libyans, especially in Benghazi, are coming out in droves to stand in the street and hold up signs saying, “This violence is not who we are.”
I think my favorites are the misspelled signs, the ones with English so broken you have to work to comprehend what they’re saying. They make me cry the hardest, because to me they say, I need to speak to you, I know you can’t understand my language, let me try very hard to use yours. The imperfection breaks me. This is humanity. This is who we are. These are real people, people who aren’t caught up in lies and hate and words, but who understand that sometimes to speak to hearts words must be employed.
The trigger, as far as I can surmise, for this incident is some fucked-up movie we the US, moronic collection of egomaniacs that we are, produced on our shores, but that’s just the flint that blew the powder in a room chock-full. The whole world is angry. We have angry Christians convinced Islam is the devil and should be burned. We have angry Islamists hating everything Western. We have politicians and news media who, when a tragedy like this happens, fixate on who said what about whom at what time and how can we make this the news item for the next few days, how can we exploit this, how can we spin the blood and anger into something we can use. People with power and voice and influence, precious few doing more than a gloss on what’s really happening and how it should stop.
Enter the Libyans and their signs.
I think they make me cry because this is how I feel. Signs do so little, but in a world spinning so crazily, all of us watching each other behind glass with so little means to reach out and console one another and make the connections that can stop this kind of thing–what else do we have, but signs in a square? I can write this blog post and maybe, if I’m lucky, a Libyan will see it. I could stand in my own square with a sign. I could charge a flight to Libya and do…what, exactly? And what would the people there do if they came here? Say sorry? I’d say it too. Sorry my country is full of idiots who think you’re murderers and lunatics because of your religion, even though the main religion of my country actually has a worse history. Sorry that even when my country helps yours, probably not enough as it was, it’s political and people carry on. Sorry that I don’t know what to say. Sorry you have assholes and idiots too. Sorry, sorry, sorry.
We elect leaders to do the jobs for us we cannot all do, and yet so few leaders ever even come close. We do our best to make safe and strong societies, but there will always be assholes and fools. There will always be hate and violence, so long as there are people in the world.
This morning the Libyans reminded me that while all that may be true, with humans also come love and hope. They stood in their city squares and touched a woman in her bathrobe in Iowa.
Shukran, Libya. Allah taskon fii hatha albayt.