In the shadows of Paris -Beirut – Baghdad – the expressions of shock and awe expressed in the media interviews continues to drive the madness of our time. The ordering of thoughts and feelings and the response develop as the experience of life over time.
A pastime of my late pre-teen youth was to go on the hunt to kill. We had been sanctioned and encouraged in this prescribed task to eliminate the prairie gophers in the fields. Such activity was aimed at reducing injury to the “Purebred cattle” if and when the possibility became the reality of breaking legs by the treasured cattle inadvertently stepping in the gopher’s burrows. Our first weapons at the beginning was a binder twine rope snare, placed carefully around the opening of the tunnel entrance. Laying prone a few feet away, with the string wound gently around our sweaty palms we waited quietly. Watching listening to the squeaks, waiting till two shiny black dots were above ground beyond the snare were scanning the horizon. The red-tailed hawks squealed in mimicry from the air as they watched the scene laid out below. With a grabbing reach to yank the cord swiftly. One could sense when a noose wrapped a little body on the other end of the line. The next and final act began as the wild – fling – thump – dance ritual until the lifeless body twitched no more. Loosen the noose and leaving hawk something to eat we would move to another burrow.
When the wind was blowing across the plains, seemingly the wait from setting the snare before the grasping noose did its’ job was longer than a windless day. Heavy buckets of water were carried or drug to the killing fields. The water was often splashing from the buckets on our sun tanned legs, yet we were dried quickly in the wind. The water – boarding flush drove the demons of terror reluctantly to the surface. The fling – thump – bump dance ritual continued daily usually until the Easter holidays were over. Where we the vile soldiers of the Ceasars in a drama chosen to eliminate the innocent? As the annual hunters gathered over the years, the tools of the battle changed. BB-Gun Rifles; then single shot 22’s. As hunters, our accuracy improved to the point of trying to kill two Gophers with one bullet. The hunting success was measured by how many assassinations of parent gophers occurred.
This socialization and accepted matter of killing informed my being at a young age. My shooting accuracy was noted while in Switzerland on a Sunday afternoon at the community range practicing with the citizen militia. They found it strange how the long haired hippy laying prone on the grass could hit the “bullseye” on so many consecutive shots.
My life marched onward in time. After my European – “out walking around the region in search of meaning and purpose” tour. A vivid memory of leaving Munich in Germany the day before the “massacre” of athletes at the 1972 Olympic games remains a ghost of my past. A few weeks later following the England Scotland – roots tour found me in Paris. In the evenings with my shoulder length flowing black hair, I found myself a silent bystander on the streets as many people of color (primarily of possible Mediterranean – North African descent) were asked by storm – troopers clad police to produce identification. The manner of such demands still echo in conflict zones where races are afraid of each other. Protected by my white European privilege I was involved in a traumatic event that I did not know at the time its significance as a bystander. Unable to say anything, watching the invalidation and belittling of innocent youth, by police thugs and their dogs.
November is a month of mourning and depression in my life from the impacts of the stories of war shared by my father and his comrades of their survival in WWII violent war. How do their memories and stories haunt the generations that follow? Residential School programs that we now view as genocide programs leave reminders throughout our Canadian culture. Many amongst our daily lives have been wounded and broken in ways that are not visible to the untrained eye. Perhaps each of us, carry an unconscious and forgotten wound. Such wound informs our perspective on life and how we live our lives as we come to believe or do what we need to do. Grace and humility are helping me to realize being human is not easy – nor the ghosts of the past and outlook for the future makes up the kaleidoscopic images we dance and move into the future on. Are these the dances in the shadows of the condors, like the red-tailed hawks of my childhood, waiting for our self-destruction as we can not change the dance? The more life I live reminds me such stories have been told before to previous generations.
Do I continue to wander aimlessly on any path not know where I am going such as Alice in Lewis Carroll – Alice in Wonderland, or living in the age of the end of carbon based fuel like Ishmael in Moby Dick? Was my Great – Grandfather the character of the Dairy Farmer in Thomas Hardy – Tess of the D’urbervilles? Are we only repeating the lessons of what has been passed on to us in the days and years that came before or are we only repeating constant stories that still are alive and well in our midst?
I appreciate the works of James Hollis – Hauntings which I picked up on recommendation of a friend who has died, in body a few months back. I write this narrative based on my experiential learning of living – loving – following a call like Samuel. Is such the calling of the prophetic voices through my great – grandmother Elizabeth Treasure?? Was she part of the Diaspora that moved across Europe as part of the family of Abraham and his descendants.
How does my experiences of killing living things – keep me detached or not from the lives of those who scramble the earth in search of peace and abundance? Is my recognition of such murder come as an “apathetic response to suffering What difference can I generate that will end the madness of war? Could my own insignificant words be heard in the midst of carnage and violence? Am I a silent fan no longer screaming at a hockey or football game – or rock concert, or just a broken man on a Halifax peer ?
As you read this I am open to comments as to my own state of reality because until I ask someone else what they perceive will I ever know if I am who I am. Thanks for indulging my quest.