What is happening is not what is happening

What is happening is not what is happening

I sometimes remember a “insumiso” (a resistant against the compulsory military service in the Spanish Army and the alternative punishment of a supposed-to-be social service in the 1980s to the 2000s) I met a thousand years ago, when I was an “insumiso” myself too. This guy drove a car to Bosnia in the middle of the war. We are talking about the early 90s, with Europeans horrified or stunned by the first war and the first genocide on European soil since the German Nazis lost the war in 1945 but won the peace three quarters of an hour later. 27 hours driving, four “insumisos” in that car.

For the return trip, three stayed in Bosnia to help and the driver brought back one deserter from each army (a Serb, a Bosnian and a Croat) with the passports of the “insumisos” in their pockets, and they arrived in Barcelona without any major setbacks.

My memory is what it is (fragmented and with shattered indexes) but I would swear that the person who told me this story told me many more.

For example, he told me about a very notorious case that cost the life of a member of the Spanish army. A lieutenant, they said. In the stories, soldiers become sergeants and suddenly they are lieutenants and then they wear pink sashes and their chests are full of medals. What the story says is that he was unloading boxes of medicines from a truck and a Serbian sniper put a bullet through his neck. The one on the other side of that last box was an “insumiso”, but they didn’t tell us that on the news. For whatever reason.

Those are stories that must be kept alive because otherwise only the story they created in the last half hour will remain, as we now see what they are doing with legitimate defense, the ethical army, smart bombs, while they will continue to tiptoe around the enormous effectiveness in killing that we have achieved and the proportion of civilian victims vs. military victims of conflicts, more crazy and more unbalanced than ever.

Due to life circumstances, I have friends who have been in the military and who have seen a lot of war. Life sometimes… Only idiots and those who make money from war like military solutions. Anyone who has seen war knows that there are many things worse than dying and in war you find them all.

Armies are not firefighters or rescuers, their role is not to maintain public order or extract people from the rubble. They can do all that because they have two hands and two feet, but it is not their function.

It is always easier to know what it is rather than what it is not. And why should I try if Joseph Fasano tells it so well in his poem “The Healers”:

You can hear them
moving among the ruins,
hear them by their silence in the noisy crowds.
You can see them, opening
their little bags, opening
the shrapneled hearts of strangers,
crouching before the body of a child
to lean down and whisper her a story,
a story in which what’s happening
is not what’s happening.
They mend; they stitch; they carry.
They work; they weep; they lose.
And when nothing can be done
among the rubble,
they kneel there as the fires fall around them
and they cradle the face
of the dying,
the life that is trying
to speak to them,
the life that whispers, listen,
and they do.

The always accurate Ruper Ordorika sang in 1998, in the midst of those endless years of lead, that there was no way to know which was the correct path (“Lerro zuzena non”):

I don’t want to live like a wounded deer.
Who knows where the right path is.
Check this out,
It seems that there is no right path.
I can’t continue in a world
in which everything is convoluted.
I was not born a hero.
I was not born a victim.
How many losses are acceptable? how many?
Does being able to fight make you right?
I can not say it.
I can’t stay silent
I don’t want to live like a wounded deer.
I was not born a hero.
I was not born a victim.

This apathy and this daze we are in is not new. Are screens and immediacy even worse for this stupor in which we splash around like pigs in a pond? Are we afraid at this point of being alone and not being able to get on the train of the just wars? Of all the possible just wars, do we have to choose precisely the ones they are pointing out to us? Who is pointing and with what? Who is sitting behind smiling? But don’t we know very well that those who are smiling cannot be good news?

I have done my best to translate Joseph and Ruper. I may have twisted the words to fit into what I want them to say. Or maybe that was the original meaning. It would not be the first time that twisted words are put in front of us and we are told that what is happening is not what is happening.

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