“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way you’re accountable.” (Arundhati Roy – Indian writer and activist).
“We, the American public, are spectators. An audience. Who will be seated when the game of musical chairs stops?” (Chris
Hedge’s essay, “The Enemy Within”).
You may not need or want to read this long diatribe of an essay-letter. You may not need or want to upset your comfort, jar your neurons, excite your synapses, stir your emotions, learn something new, stretch your span of attention, or make your “eyes bleed.” (“Brevity Please,” Paul Stone, Mailbox, The Independent, 10/31/2019).
It is a bit beyond me in the scheme of things to read the whimpering about the length of the letters in Mailbox. Kudos to The Independent for publishing the letters. Maybe there is some shred of “The Fourth Estate” left, though our democracy has been demolished by the corruption of greed and money. Maybe The Independent is testing to see if anyone reads anymore or has an attention span or can critically think.
There is a simple solution to the “full-blown essays” if you have a problem with their length: Don’t read them! A man has been lying in a homeless encampment with bloated belly and infected legs. In the name of “brevity,” and mercy, his suffering would be over if he died. That is not our call: the mortal circumstances are. Foibles and habitual judgements mostly got this man to where he is. Who among us is not blessed to have not suffered the full consequences of their mistakes?
Last Friday night a woman with severe grand mal epilepsy and who has been homeless living in a car for the last five years here in Livermore had a seizure and planted her face into the pavement. She fractured her jaw again. The blood poured from her countenance onto her clothes. I found her tooth on the asphalt, though the tooth fairy, with her ‘brevity wand’ was nowhere around. There was no pillow in the vicinity either. The homeless woman was packed-off by private vehicle to the hospital, where the gravel bits were painfully removed from her wounds and she had stitches to her face and inside her mouth. Her companion caretaker epoxied her tooth in place, for that procedure was outside of the repertoire of the healthcare professionals. The hope is the tooth would “take.” The previous 3 a.m. it was 36 degrees outside this woman’s car. A little after 7 a.m. it was 34 degrees. In the name of “brevity” it was only four hours of shivering as a subset of her daily shivering.
There is new research out of Boston University enlightening our knowledge about cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) and what it does as far as removing toxins and other activities when we get good sleep. Maybe you all already know how the brain works. In the name of “brevity” here, maybe you still have a sense of wonder and the inspiration to learn about it. Shivering is not good sleep.
There are many stories of the over 200 unsheltered homeless here in Livermore. In the name of “brevity”: Where is our humanity? Where is our empathy? If I seem angry: I am. I am angrier by the moment. Thanks to all who are doing something for the homeless. Often I hear, “We are doing the best we can.”
This “best” is not very good. This is not the best we can do. This situation is evil. I witness the dying, I witness the suffering, I witness the blood, and in “brevity” – they are not.