Just saw an enormous sculpture under the arch in Washington Square park. It is a wire cage with a cut-out image suggesting “person.” The vagary of the image says man or woman and child and grandparent and all of us, collectively indistinguishable in increasing numbers, everywhere.
Homelessness is a kind of jail, a world of fences which keep you out and move you on. First, I laughed at the image like a 60s “shmoo.” Then, after friend Caryn said it looks like a jail, I began to feel the horror of being a caged-in human. Feeling the torture of these people stimulates my fear of suffering a similar fate. I sought an excuse: those refugees must have been bad or stupid. I and my family/religion/political affiliation are smart and safe. I and we turn their eyes away and say not me.
Ai Weiwei has created a film about refugees in many countries he calls Human Flow. He and his father were routed and put away in distant Chinese camp as intellectuals. Readers and thinkers are felt to be dangerous to tyrants. They might not fall for the “leader’s” political hype. Following Dad’s orders in order to not seem a rebel, Ai Weiwei destroyed his father’s enormous library. But still he and son were arrested. Eventually, Ai Weiwei was released and left the country. When he returned to visit a sick father, he was attacked and held for a while.
Why have we fallen into empire building lawless taking/predatory behavior on the defenseless who have something we want? The Israelis evict the Palestinians and locked in Ghaza, increasingly without water and power. They will die of starvation, cholera. Puerto Rico, a recently flooded US territory, is not helped by its US owners; accused of poor planning after being unable to control their economy including outside trading due to the Jones Act. Everything has to be loaded and then shipped from the US which greatly increases prices.
FEMA said it is only there to give advice after showering food and water into flooded Texas. We can’t forget that the Puerto Rican population is largely brown and black. Texas is largely white if you ignore (the original owners), the Mexicans. After most of the Puerto Rican natives are dead or gone to the US, expensive sea-side hotels will rise.
Empire builders, often using drones attack hospitals and schools and water purification plants, etc., illegal actions according to the rules of war but who enforces them? Obama chose one day each week to create a kill list. Also, illegal. The refugees of Yemen are attacked by the Saudi’s using US weapons. The winner countries want to move their stolen oil through another’s country’s fields on way to the sea. They want to take that country’s minerals and ….
Invaded countries are treated like a gigantic super market. Plunderers erase the debt for what they take with bullets.
Now we celebrate Columbus Day but Columbus and his crew never touched our shores. It’s a kind of farce, celebrating a historic event that didn’t happen. Columbus and his crew settled in Hispaniola, where they made slaves of the friendly Taino, the Araeaks and Lucayans. They saw a little gold jewelry and wanted all of it.
They forced Indians to dig in gold mines until dead. There was a lot of suicide. Attracted to violence, they ripped babies from mother’s wounds and threw them in the air to catch them on swords, cut off hands and hung them around the neck to warn other miners to be bring up more gold. brought killer dogs that fed on children. The population went from 3 million to perhaps 500.
The Massachusetts governor celebrated Thanksgiving after killing 700 native men women and children celebrating the festival of green corn in their villages. We now celebrate Thanksgiving under a false memory. The Indians taught the largely city dwellers how to farm and once that population knew how to survive, the killing began.
Those who espouse violence create a world of refugees. What is to keep the broom of greed from sweeping us away? We speak of killing to keep us safe from so-called terrorists, how many created by our actions? Our violence creates a tidal wave of homeless wanderers as well as people moved to fight back. We all can shoot. We can only stem the tide of homelessness, fear and hate by being friends. That is Ai Weiwei’s message. Can there be any other?