Today is Friday. Today, I wish to thank Mark Aldrich who writes “The Gad About Town” for publishing my son’s essay about feeling shattered. Take a read. This is from a young man who has been treated so very unjustly.
Matthew Paul DeHart
Freeze me, put me in a time capsule, and wake me up when most of society cares. I am a damaged relic. I wanted to write about the chimeric corporate security state we live in. I wanted to discuss the benefits of proportional representation and Westminster parliamentary governments. I wanted to talk about general strikes and forcing change. I wanted to do this but I’m shattered. I feel like I can’t write anymore, not anonymously, not as myself. I want to communicate experience. How do you describe torture? I can”t. I went to counseling at the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture. I explained how all I wanted for myself and my family was a safe place – then I was handed over. Shattered is the closest description of how I feel; shattered in my mind, shattered in my relationships with other people and institutions, shattered in my soul. I’m finding solace in Svetlana Alexievich’s “Secondhand Time.” I empathize with those who lost something they believed in, who could only reminisce amongst themselves. I love my family. They understand. I wonder how many others do. Torture doesn’t “officially” happen here and even if it did, half of America seems to support it if you believe in the polls. Who are you people? Are you my neighbors? Did I go to church with you? Did you think I was lying? If you were against torture, what did you think once the medical records came out?
Maybe you are shattered, too…but in a different way. Come to think of it, that’s our country –
beyond fractures, cuts and gouges, we’re shattered. All the pieces are still here. The mass is the same. It’s just not fitting together. I don’t fit together. We don’t fit together. I’m one of you. I would have died for you. I still would. But, would you have cared if I made that sacrifice? How much do we really support the troops and I don’t mean just sending them to countless wars. I’m in prison with quite a few and they don’t fit either.
May 1996, Birdsboro, Pennsylvania. I go outside one Friday evening knocking on every door down my street, down others as well, asking, “Do you have kids? If yes, do they wanna play flashlight tag?” Twenty or thirty of us played outside from twilight until 10, sometimes later. We did this all summer until I moved to New Jersey. I was 11. I had been walking to school since I was 9 when we lived on Ft. Meade – next to the NSA, but I was doing what was normal for generations. I “grew up” in New Jersey. I took the train alone into the city (NYC) when I was in high school. My friends did, too. I surfed the internet and got free music and pretty much everything. I worked, too. I painted, did retail, registered and sold domains. Then 9-11 happened. I went to Ground Zero on the first anniversary of the attack, saw President Bush as he came to the city to speak. I believed in my government, in my neighbors. I believed in civil liberties and free markets – even while growing in my activist aspirations. We seemed stronger after 9-11 yet we were coming apart. We’d been split before. The Civil War was horrific and shameful, something we’ve never truly recovered from. De-segregation, Vietnam, Watergate; we were broken then, too; but, it seems like we still knew each other. We were made to fit for awhile. We didn’t shatter all at once. It took place in slow motion. The Neocons finished it. Maybe it was inevitable from the beginning with our legacy of exclusion and slavery. I do know that the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) never included all of us. Their America was always different than mine; more militant, more violent (overseas and at home), more about capital and less about compassion. How have we gotten to managed outrage, managed media, managed government? Our shattered selves, shattered communities demand distraction – our phones, our movies and yes our national news. News that when not talking Trump or disaster is pointing to everyone else’s problems, every other country’s bad leaders, their corruption, their “regimes, Sometimes our government but mostly theirs. Let’s all be somewhere else. When we’re not, let’s point the finger at each other. Forget glue. Sweep us into a pile. Sweep us into two piles. Shattered. Does this end? If so, how? I fit with my family, some of you more or less with yours. We fit with our friends. I’d like to fit with you. I want you to fit with each other. It wasn’t about winning wars, buying houses and cars, enjoying a cheeseburger at McDonald’s that made us great. It was our shared experiences, shared hardships. It was knocking on random doors and meeting neighbors, making friends. Could it be so simple?
What can you do? Stand against torture. Tell my son know he is not alone.