Jul 19, 2014

298 humans, unspecified nationality, died in a plane crash on board of MH17 of the Malaysian Airline

The news of the Malaysian airplane MH17 crash, which might have been caused by a missile thrown by Russian rebels in Ukraine, has affected me really hard these couple of days. I haven't been affected personally, but it still hit me hard. 

I did live for a year in the Netherlands, and only a month ago I embarked on a plane on the same airport these 298 people embarked on, even if in a different airline and route, and I can't stop thinking about the last moments of terror of the children and adults, and the pilot and personnel. Maybe someone or many saw the missile approach if that's what really happened and they realized they were about to die. 

I hate flying. I never flew before the 9/11, so I'm a post 9/11 flyer, and I always get on board of a plane thinking that there's 50% chance that I will die, and I don't think rationally about the statistics suggesting otherwise. The truth is that in a period of a few months two Malaysian airplanes have crashed. The first one is still a mystery. The second one, there's so far some kind of evidence or at least beliefs that it was shot down by Ukrainian rebels who probably thought it was a Ukrainian military aircraft. Either way if I'm not mistaken 600 people have died on a plane crash from the same airline in a period of a few months, and the idea of getting on a plane again after that terrifies me. But I have to get on a plane, either to get back to school if I will be able to, or to at least get the rest of my stuff from my apartment there. 

Either way, yesterday I woke up in a world which is not the world I thought was half safe. After 9/11, all the Western world was affected and we all felt unsafe. To be fair I live in the Balkans and after experiencing and hearing stories from fellow 12 year olds about the ethnic cleansic efforts of the Serbian army towards the Kosovo civilians during the Kosovo war, I did understand that war was not only on my history books, and the world I was born into was not the safe world I thought it was. I've known the world has been unsafe, but life goes on, and you can't keep thinking about these things constantly. It's not healthy.

I'm scared. I'm scared and terrified about the people in Gaza who are dying. I'm scared and terrified about the people in Syria. I'm scared about the people in Ukraine. I'm scared about the people in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Middle East who keep dying because of suicide bombers. I'm scared of gay men and women in Uganda and other countries with severe laws against homosexuality, and women in general being thrown to jail or stoned to death in countries where human and women's rights are constantly violated. And I'm scared for all of us who hop on a plane to go to our homes, schools, vacation, or AIDS conferences in Melbourne (108 people on that plane were AIDS researchers and activists from the Netherlands who had done so much against AIDS, going to a conference in Australia, and they died). I'm scared about me and our fellow humans, and frankly I don't feel so well adjusted to just go back to living my life every time I hear all these awful things in the news. To be able to continue my work when I become so numb, I put on an episode of something (yesterday was Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, the more awful the news, the more stupid the tv show has to be to get rid of the numbness). But that doesn't take this fear I have away. 

I have problems of my own. We my get foreclosed because we went bankrupt and we couldn't afford to pay the extreme loans on the house and business anymore. I need to neuter my dog because he cannot be kept in the house wild as he is and it terrifies me that I have to do something like that to him. I have to drop out of school this year because I don't have the money anymore to pay for the rest of my tuition, and nothing I do can help me. All I can do is to continue to work and hopefully save money to go back in one or two years. My family has been going through depression, and anxiety and possibly PTSD after my dad was robbed out of everything he had and also other people's money, under arm point 6 years ago, and my mother suffered a stroke 5 years ago, and after all the attempts to get our lives back we couldn't and went bankrupt, and now we, or my dad owes money to so many people. Living under all this pressure and anxiety for so many years has made me the positive thinker, a weak person who is scared, all the time. But the fear I have now at this moment, is not about my family, and is not about myself, it is about everything.

I know that there's inequality in the world, starvation, wars, genocide, massive rape, violation of basic human rights, hunger, and all these things have existed for as long as I have lived...they're not new to me. So why do I feel affected by the suffering of other people now more than any other time? Is it because my family is suffering so I am able to empathize more with other people's pain? I don't think so. In the last 6 years since we've been struggling so much to keep living and solve our problems, I've actually been more selfish. I've been unable to connect with other people because I always think they can't understand what I'm going through, and I'm jealous of how normal and ok their lives are. I had become selfish to a point that I didn't really care about other people's suffering because my own and my family's was too much to take already. But now, I don't know if it is because I'm hormonal, or because I'm at the edge of what I can take, or because of the last tragedy of those people who departed from the same airport I did a month ago, or because I've been thinking so much about how I can now and later contribute to changing the world to restore equality and change the system without violence and murderous revolutions, and I have so clear in my mind the idea of this beautiful Utopia that I'm 100% sure it's possible, juxtaposed with the reality of the hell we're all living in, or because the environmental danger we face now is so eminent, or because the threats of a European war don't look imaginary anymore, or because of what is happening in Gaza, or because I've felt the discrimination of being a non-European (Non EU member) in a European (EU member) country for a year, or because after working for two years almost 80 hours a week, either working or studying, I have finally some free time to think, or because of all of these things, now I feel numbed, scared, pushed against the wall and faced with the reality of the hell I and we live in, and I feel pain for me, my family, and my fellow humans.

One thing I'm unable to understand is the media and politicians taking the latest tragedy and transforming the 298 deaths headline into "At least one American person is dead", or "66 Malaysian" or "200 Dutch people" and these many English, and these many Australian, or Israeli?, I really don't want to actually go into the real numbers right now. I'm unable to understand how one can select just a number of "their" people and ignore the rest out of their emotional speech. Aren't we all humans? Aren't all of those people who died humans? Why is important what nationality they were? There were innocent people and children who were travelling to their destination and lost their lives in the most horrible way possible (at least in my mind as I'm truly phobic when it comes to flying).

To me this rhetoric can be explained only in one way. It's best to separate who our people are from the rest, so then when we eventually, or maybe another day have to go into war with them, because so say the leaders and the military and the warmongering corporations, we don't have to see them as people, because they're not us. This rhetoric of separating the people of our country in this tragedy from the rest, is just another method the media and governments and as I call them "the powers that be" perpetrate this separatism between us and them. We need to be separate so that we don't see the people of Gaza as humans, and the people of Syria as humans, and the next people we will bomb as humans. As long as they're not us is ok.

And that's why I have been so affected lately. After the World Cup where nations hate nations because of a stupid football or soccer game, we become so patriotic and nationalist, and our group identities are strengthened to create this separatism needed to keep us fighting against eachother instead of fighting against the powers that be, I was able to break away from the idiocy of this groupthink early and understand how wrong this separatism is. Because as much as I love my family more than anything, or as much as I love myself more anything, and as much as I have been socialized to put the people of my country first, the truth is that my life and the lives of those closest to me are equally important to everyone else's. I'm not saying I'm fully able to empathize with everyone else equally. I'm not saying I'm innocent and I don't separate myself from those that I don't know or who don't share my versions of identity. What I'm saying is that I'm making a huge effort to feel all the pain of those who aren't me or like me, because I'm afraid to live in this world that the powers that be have created for us. I need to be strong and love the people who don't look or talk like me, before I end up hating them to satisfy some rich mogul's desire to become even richer beyond normalcy and comprehension. I want to evolve and think about the world and strangers more, and stop thinking about my self. It's the only way I will be able to survive. It's the only way I will be able to avoid becoming the one eyed monster I've become. 

Lately I have this feeling that extremism is rising more and more. Inequality is rising and it feels in the air as if there's some plan for a large conflict. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, and I'm not a crazy person either (most of the time) but I do feel that radicalism is rising in nations in Europe, and the Middle East and in the US, and in Africa and it feels as if people are becoming more belligerent, and hate is spreading. Is there a plan? History suggests that there's always a plan the powers that be have to control the world and change the map as they wish. Is there an actual plan to have a large conflict, a world war right now, or am I so blind to see, that already there is a large war right now? Either way I know that the only way I can protect myself and the people I don't know but love from this imaginary conflict of the future, or current conflict of the present is by protecting myself from hate.

There's a moment I love from the movie V from Vendetta and it's Valerie's letter and it inspires me more than anything. It's a letter about love. I think that the only way we can protect ourselves from those who want to harm us to perpetrate their agendas is by refusing to hate The Other, and by loving the people around us, especially those who are most unlike us. Therefore, I do care about the 298 people who died in that plane, regardless of their nationality, and I refuse to hate anyone for this tragedy, especially those who become responsible by association, scapegoats of another war, another conflict to give power to those who want it. I refuse to hate. I refuse to separate my love. I refuse your rhetoric of US versus Them.

"I hope that - whoever you are - you escape this place. I hope that the world turns, and that things get better.

But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that even though I do not know you, and even though I may not meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you: I love you.

With all my heart.I love you.

Valerie"

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