Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why I write

I know you think I feed my Internet addiction with Amazon wish lists chock full of delectable perfumes and femme fatale shoes. Well, you're right, but that's not the half of it. The Internet brings me everything I find fascinating: info on 'supermoon'; the last three US elections that kept me glued to news and commentaries for so many months; the earthquake-tsunami-nuclear crisis in Japan, brought to my desk in high definition living colour; the uprisings in Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia; and now, the contretemps in Libya.

There's something about Gadhafi that has caught my imagination since my youth: his flamboyant good looks (well, in his youth), his charisma, his refusal to be cowed by either the military or media (read 'propaganda') might of his enemies, primarily the US. I have the same sneaking admiration for Chavez of Venezuela, and open admiration for Cuba's Castro. (I've learned from my time spent in South Florida that if I stood in the middle of Miami and shouted the latter I'd be dispatched to the hereafter in short thrift.) Crunch the numbers and you might well find that far, far more innocent civilians have been murdered by the soi-disant protectors of 'freedom' and 'democracy' than by the aforementioned allegedly heinous dictators/leaders.

So, I've been refreshing my memory of the convoluted, violent relationship between Libya and the US and the Internet obligingly puts it all at my fingertips - the history, the facts, the conspiracy theories. The 1986 US attack on this sovereign state and attempted murder of Gadhafi, Operation El Dorado Canyon, interested me in particular; it was so controversial that Spain, France and Italy all denied the US overflight rights and use of their continental bases for the attack.

That time, Gadhafi and his family rushed out of their residence moments before the bombs dropped. What saved them? A telephone call from Malta's prime minister about unauthorized aircraft flying over Maltese airspace heading south towards Tripoli. I know Gadhafi isn't a saint - but then, neither are the powers that have wanted him dead for so long. Murder is murder, no matter what the perpetrators, state or individual, want to call it.

This isn't supposed to be a political diatribe. My point is that the more I read, see and learn, the more disgusted and horrified I am at the powers that run this world, that spout ideological rhetoric but which are really motivated by economics and power-lust. It's a process I've been through again and again. For awhile, I'm fascinated and can't turn away; before long I'm overwhelmed and depressed by people's gullibility, including my own, by the change that never comes, by all the hypocrisy, aggression and spilt blood.

This state of mind is not healthy for me and sooner of later I find, to paraphrase the poet William Wordsworth, that the world is too much with me. It is then that I feel the need to tear myself away from the danse macabre and return to a psychic space where goodness, justice and fair play win the day, and where I control all the outcomes.

That's why I write.

Footnote 1:
Normally reliable sources from the Library of Congress to
Time, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal and New York Review of Books (among others) can't seem to agree on the spelling of the colonel's name. Take your pick: Qaddhafi, Qaddafi, Gaddafi, Kaddafi, Khadafy, Qadhafi, Qadaffi, Gadaffi, Qathafi, Gadaafi or Qadhdhafi.

Footnote 2:
For a different perspective on the Libya situation, here's an insightful commentary from Bombing Libya: 1986 - 2011


Charles Gramlich said...

I'm certainly no fan of Gadaffi, but I don't think we should be intervening in a civil war. I met a lot of folks who fled Castro's Jails during the freedom flotilla. I saw some serious scars that led me to feel pretty negative toward Castro as well. Certainly, though, there is no shortage of vicious nasty people all over the world, in democracies and out.

Liane Spicer said...

Charles, I think if I'd seen those scars I'd feel the same way. The Cubans I met in FL had no physical scars; they were economic refugees as far as I could tell. The ones I meet here at home speak well of their leader and country, and tend to cite their incomparable social programmes, among other things.

Yes, there are nasty people all over the world in regimes of every stripe. Very few have the moral authority point at others, and certainly not to attack them.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Writing is a great way to escape all the tumults of the world. But alas, when the chapter is done, when the book is written, we have to return to the real world and deal with the same tumults that existed before we escaped.

Liane Spicer said...

Woe and alas, Jewel. There's the rub. If writing is escapism (and it is, just like reading - and breeding Amazon wish lists!) and that's what it takes to keep me sane then I'm all for it.

KeVin K. said...

I have to work hard to keep my politics and my religion out of my writing. Or rather, to avoid ranting about politics and religion in my writing.
My faith has been overrun and commandeered by those Jesus called "whitewashed sepulchers" -- striving to look clean on the outside while full of rot -- who use the rules of religion as a weapon to oppress those of whom they do not approve. I spend way too much of my time apologizing for the behavior of people who use the name of my religion to justify attitudes and behaviors that are expressly forbidden by every tenet and contrary to every fundamental value we are commanded to uphold.
My country is being overwhelmed by people who think "My country, right or wrong" is a complete sentence. What Senator Schurz (and yes, I did have to Google to find his name) said back in 1872 was: "My country, right or wrong; if right to be kept right, and if wrong to be set right." Back then it was a guiding principle that spoke to what everyone recognized as the core values of what it means to be a republic. Say it today and you'll be denounced as a freedom-hating socialist. Probably born in Kenya.

That said, I don't think comparing the scope of things done in the name of one economic system or another by nations or individuals is accurate. To use examples unrelated to any you named, the Khmer Rouge did not kill fewer people than America has because they were more compassionate. Nor has the junta ruling Myanmar imprisoned fewer people because they are more just. The limiting factor is their resources. Comparing the ratio between what each does with what each has the capability to do may be a more accurate tool in determining relative disregard for decency and the rights of others. (Not that we come out too good on that scale, either.)

Liane Spicer said...

KeVin, I hear you on the avoidance of ranting about politics and religion - although when the din of the mad majority gets too loud, rants to the contrary might not only be justified but even necessary.

As far as comparisons of the scope of things done in different economic systems etc: while I agree that it's difficult or impossible to make accurate comparisons if one has to factor in the sort of ratios you mention, quibbling over semantics should not cloud the fact that the US and its allies are equally, massively guilty of the same sort of heinous abuses as those they hunt down, bomb and murder by the hundreds of thousands. The hypocrisy is staggering.

My days of galloping idealism and optimism about man and his systems are behind me but I do think that every voice raised in reason (or outrage) helps just a little bit.

Liane Spicer said...