As all sides start to drag home their martyrs, I can hear a thousand Horst Wessel Lied’s being scribbled by spidery fingers among the shadows deepening across America. I remember, as a teenager, seeing footage of men, women and children who looked like, dressed like, people I knew – looked like me, straggling up hillsides clutching carrier bags with their lives in beneath artillery fire, wretched and shell shocked in the imploding Yugoslavia. So much more affecting than footage of people who looked like, dressed like, nobody I knew – who didn’t look like me- their skin colour and dress more a marker of geographical and cultural distance than racial difference. Further than my town, my country, my continent. Further from my table and plate.
But now I see people in America, who look like me but with tans and less fucked up teeth, setting their cities on fire every night for months on end – now drawing up organised militias from a population that seem to have been gnashing their teeth at each other for years now, executing each other in the streets. So many conversations it’s now unsafe to have, this Tower of Babel crashing down on our heads, angry young sheep vs wise, but tired, old wolves.
From the outside – but not too far away, maybe in your neighbour’s back yard – looking in, it looks like a civilisation tearing itself to shreds. If that’s the case, I think we’re only a domino fall from joining in the collapse.
So many ways this grand experiment might have flourished but so many more and prosaic the routes to annihilation. No other generation has complained so bitterly of so much luxury, how much colder it will feel beneath the thick, dark ice, with light only enough for our terrors to hunt by, and every remembered moment just like this one, always wanting something that was moving into the darkness and past you into forever