The number rises, a red tide swelling on the pristine sand, unseen from the upscale highrises, far above the shore. From their balconies they see an ocean of possibilities, an endless sea of support, while the bloodstains dilute in the vast waters far from their view, yet right in their own backyard.
The brochures advertise the white sand, swept clean for photo ops by tireless crews there to keep the view breathtaking and the beaches clear of the “savage” waste. They own the land, so can live in their blissful ignorance, high in their towers, unhindered by the efforts of the maintenance staff.
On August 17, 2014, her body was found, wrapped in a duvet and loaded down with rocks near the shores. She was 15 years old.
When she was 12, her father, already dying of cancer, was brutally beaten and left tied in the cold until death. She ended up in so-called protective care, who in the weeks preceeding her death, discarded her unsupervised in a hotel, a vulnerable youth left to her own devices. Unconscious, she was seen and released by hospital staff, a 15 year old alone in crisis.
A 56 year old man with 92 previous convictions, somehow still on the streets, regularly supplied the child with a variety of drugs in a basement, where witnesses say he fondled her, and asked her to “just do (him)”.
Two weeks before she died, Tina called the police on him for stealing a van, and told them that he had stolen her bicycle and sold it to buy drugs. The police, somehow failed to take the 15 year old’s name or notice that she was underage in this horrific situation and took the word of the man who convinced them a Led Zepplin-look-a-like was the real suspect. After all, it’s just another at-risk Native girl in Manitoba.
What hapened next is not fully known, the evidence washed away by the rushing waters, but the duvet that covered her tiny 72 lb body matched his. In recordings, he repeatedly alluded to his crimes, and yet the jury somehow declared him “not guilty” of her murder. No talk of negligence for the agencies who exist to protect her. It’s not their fault. They didn’t add the rocks to the duvet.
And so another body washes up on the shore overnight and is brushed away by the crews before the light of day so that the occupants don’t muddy their view or lower their property values. If they see the occasional drop of blood stained through the grains of sand, they complain that they now can’t walk barefoot along the shores, that the staff is inadequate but refuse to increase the wages to hire enough workers to do a proper job. And once in a while, they may sympathize with the maintenance staff on the difficulty of their job, or the horrors that cause the beaches to be stained in the first place, but more often than not, they remain oblivious, enjoying the view.
In light of recent events, I felt compelled to write this piece to express my thoughts to all the other white-breads out there and I’m hoping you’ll hear my words and at the very least, consider them.
I’ve always been a strong advocate of nonviolence, preaching tolerance and love in face of war and evil and spreading this message far and wide. Building is always superior to dismantling, I’ve said, because if you build a better world parallel to the old, there’s no need for force. I have educated myself in this direction and worked all my adult life in this vein, truly believing it to the core of my being.
The events of late have not changed my personal resolve, but rather have truly shifted my eyes to the harm this exclusive position can have on those its meant to support. There’s strength in numbers, specifically in the ideas we temper to structure our values, and rigidity has no place in an ever changing world.
I’ve realized there’s a time for hope and positivity, but suppressing emotion to serve those goals isn’t positive. Or helpful. Erasing those realities only adds to the harm and dimishes the entire aim of the exercise. To truly defeat evil, yes, you must love thy enemy, but also constrain them from doing greater harm. Sometimes defeat them, and be intolerant of their evil to stop the plague of paradoxes over the limits of tolerance itself. There is no compromise to evil.
The streets aren’t safe for those whose skin has already worn a lifetime of oppressions, faced a gaunlet of discriminations, and subtleties meant to weaken their spirit and resolve. They rightly fear the tide of hate that swells against them, but stack the sandbags in preparation for the next flood.
These differences may not be inherent, rather imagined in our collective consciousness as realities worthy of distinction, but that imagination has summoned a brutality more real than any the universe could ever have created. A force evil enough to divide the life within us all, and place hierarchy on ignorance, all subtly clamouring for the highest place in some master power scheme we created to feel more secure in our place in it.
We can’t change the past, but we also can’t erase the fact that we were raised with inherent biases that have taught us our place on that hierarchy and have positioned us so without regard to our awareness of it. Our privilege is not some magic path to success, a guarantee of the “good” life. Our skin just shades us from the true realities of those on supposed lower rungs. We keep our eye on the top, and don’t look back for fear of falling and wonder why others don’t succeed as we’re stepping on their fingers and blocking their path.
It pains me to speak these words, but it needs to be said. I’m a racist, and the rest of my life, no matter how hard I work to supress this pedagogy that has been rammed down my throat since birth, I will never fully overpower it. No matter how much I read, support, listen, and work to become a good “ally”, these biases rest within me, subconsciously steering my positions and erasing the realities I can’t comprehend.
And so I must consider, that my biases have blinded me in some ways, and clouded my values to the extent that the lines are now blurred. I must resist the urge to become defensive and face the evil knowing that I am truly part of it, no matter how hard I may work to supress it. Hate dies in understanding, so I must understand and truly hear the voices that tell my subconscious it is flawed. I am an imperfect being. But owning your flaws and striving to better them is never a lost cause.
Now is not the time to play defense. Now is the time to fight my own values, and suffer the pain of their loss, realizing that that fight pales against the violence I actively create with my own subconscious. It’s time we lessened the burden and came back down to the ground. It’s time we laid this ladder to rest, and whatever way it comes down, we must be ready to fall. After all, we have ignorantly placed ourselves on this precarious perch.
We base our universal reality on constants we rarely question. Every scientist knows that proper measurement is integral to the usefulness of their findings. That without good metrics, their study is flawed, but still, we base our reality entirely on the assumptions that keep our mere mortal brains from exploding. The comforting biases and ordered reality that keep us from spinning out from chaos and allows us the piece of mind to evolve beyond just living.
I know that time is merely a construction that we have fabricated to try and make sense of our complex reality. In the moment when catastrophe strikes, time seemingly stands still, every milisecond spread out as a lifetime, each decision an agony of options that stretch out into infinty. There’s no time for action, no time to think, but yet limitedless thoughts sprint through our brains as if years had just passed by. Each instant remembered as vividly as the next, and though by our reality only seconds have passed, it would take weeks to explain each complex moment. The next months a blur that seemingly happened in an instant, unable to even recall a distinguished timeline of events.
Why is it that I sometimes remember the most mundane in all its glory, and the most traumatic not at all?
That moment of breath before a first kiss with someone you have been dreaming of, for what seems like an eternity. The lifetime before the ambulance arrives. The times when time slips by so quickly instinct takes over and it ceases to even exist for just that moment.
If each moment is a constant, on a linear track through the universe, then flashbacks are time travel and I am a magnificent Goddess able to manipulate this force with the sheer will of my traumatized brain, because in an instant, I’m there, flashing in and out of time, unable to keep a firm grip on any reality.
You see the sun doesn’t actually rise in the east, but our spinning motion and arbitrary selection of direction in this endless prism, trick our eyes into believing it. Time moves fastest on mountains and maybe that’s why it takes so long to climb, because the valleys are dragging us downwards and backwards through reality. But if we increase our climb to the speed of light, we can escape the summit and leave the concept behind entirely. At that moment, do we see our life flash before our eyes, or the universe as one tiny pinpoint that we can leap across? Or are we waiting waitless outside a black hole for infinty to crush us as time stands still?
The present is actually the past by the time our brain interprets it, yet we say to live for a moment we can’t ever understand until it’s gone. Tomorrow’s not for certain, and the reality of the past is never quite how we remember it. We say let’s meet at this set time, but each experience its passing differently, maybe that’s why I always think ppl are late.
The speed of light is as fast as our tiny brains can comprehend, yet none could interpret the passing as fast as it’s happening, so how could we even meaningfully measure it? Would that travel rip apart our skulls, or damage our sense of reality to the point that no constant is ever again steady? Is that the point we travel back to the beginning?
They say live for the future, but what if tomorrow is the day the clock stops ticking? What if the past is all we had and we are perpetually living it in never-ending cycles that we can’t see locked on this linear track. Tick tock. Tick tock. Don’t be scared for tomorrow. Time will bring us home, eventually.
Don’t talk to strangers. The infamous piece of “wisdom” told to every small child as a precaution against kidnapping, rape, and trauma, but they neglected to tell us that, for the most part, it’s not strangers committing these crimes. It’s the people we already know.
You can be a happy child, in a loving home. Attentive parents who are actively involved in your lives, and still be molested. They prey on the weak, but it’s not exclusionary to the weakest.
You see it’s not always the fearful exchange you hear about on tv, the ones your parents warn you about. They take their time, spending months or years to groom you to be their “best friend”. So that you start to see them as your “best friend”, someone trustworthy and on your side. Not like other adults, but a giant kid you can play with and vent your frustrations about other adults to.
And as that trust grows they begin to ask increasingly boundary pushing requests, but you comply, because you are young and because you don’t understand the risks. You comply because you trust them. Because you have no reason not to. You comply, because maybe your parents even trust them too. You comply, because we are engrained at a young age from multiple sources that adults are to be obeyed and that we do not have full bodily autonomy. You comply because they told you it would hurt them if you don’t. And they are your best friend.
And so you do it. It feels wrong, but you are so desperate to have this “positive” influence in your life, this cool person who cares, who treats you like an adult. Trusts you with secrets. And makes you feel like you are special. Unique. You do it because you think you are just too young to understand and they must know better.
And they teach you how to lie. And they accidentally show up places they know your parents won’t be at to spend alone time with you. Fill your head with valid reasons why we should keep secrets from every body. Because to you, even as a child, this feels like a real relationship.
Not all abuse is what we classically describe as violent. It can take years to even come to the realization that your relationship was sick. That this person has preyed on you. That what happened was wrong, that a 10 year old and an adult shouldn’t be in a partnered sexual relationship. You excuse it to yourself that they were just immature, and you were just mature for you age… and that they truly loved you. You even referred to them as your first boyfriend for more than a decade after your “relationship”. Because you still actually believed that and called them a “good” guy who didn’t mean to do wrong but was just so attracted to you and your body that they couldn’t help themselves. Then you remember that they were attracted to your undeveloped, child body. That they couldn’t resist the charm of a 10 year old. And you start to rethink your position. The trauma is felt. Your entire life is changed by the experience. Your trust for people. Your sex life. Your self-worth.
But remember. Don’t talk to strangers. Because they’re the ones who’ll hurt you.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, people always assume I’m a bleeding heart Liberal. For the record, I’m not. In fact, I hate both philosophies with great passion and cannot align myself to one over the other. I take serious issue with many of their main arguments and question the necessity of their existence at all. I critique literally every politician in existence, because I think we should. Democracy does not begin and end in the voting booth. Critique does not mean they are incapable of good, just that they are an imperfect human, as are we all. It’s how they handle the critique that matters.
Divisions of red and blue. Man vs woman. Liberal vs Conservative. Democrat vs. Republican. Country vs country. Divisions deepened by politician’s rhetoric, sharpened by the media’s tongue, biased by our own ignorance and fear of the unknown, we bleed peace in order to feel like we belong. We divide ourselves into these neat little boxes that are apparently entirely separate entities, when reality is more like a Venn diagram of commonality, with only tiny slivers of difference on each edge.
We all want to have the things we need to survive and thrive, we want a chance at a good life, because not having that, with all the advances and knowledge that currently exists in this world, seems like a system based on pure sadism. We see different ways to get there, and so we should. There is no mould for how to make the world.
Sometimes I wonder if it will take proving the existence of actual aggressive extraterrestrials threatening humanity’s very existence to bridge the global divide. I certainly fucking hope not.
Thing is, representatives were originally so-called because they were to represent the will of their constituents. Instead they follow the party line and deepen the political divides they created to keep themselves in the game. And, oh boy, is it ever a game. They spend more time and money winning elections than writing bills, sitting with lobbyists over constituencies. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Government, in and of itself is not a bad thing. In it’s purest form, it’s people coming together to ensure that those within its reach have a chance to thrive and come together. If it didn’t oppress, but rather uplifted, if it wasn’t stacked as a game of fame and favour, but rather a true privilege and honour to be part of, strongly rooted in a desire to make this planet better for ALL of us, if it was something we all had a true say in, we would see it as humanity’s saviour, and not some cumbersome and heartless entity that’s so embroiled in bureaucracy that it erases the humanity of those it espouses to serve.
Divisions are a political weapon of democracy, deepened by those who don’t want “the people” to actually have a say, and work to keep them in the dark of the true reality. This partied system of democracy is placating the population so that the wizardly oligarchy can do their own bidding behind the screen. I think it’s time to click our heels three times and come back to reality. We’ve spent far too long in Oz.
I was always a healthy child, rarely ever even the sniffles or the flu, but from the ages of about 12 to the present day, I essentially used my body as a car crash dummy. Lining up all the different walls I could crash through to prove the resilience of my car, and I must say, it’s pretty fucking resilient. Sturdy and quality engineering if I do say so myself.
I abused hard drugs heavily for more than a decade and in the process, gave myself a stroke at the age of 16. A truly functional junky if ever there was one. I have a degree I have zero recollection taking, and stamps in my passport from countries I don’t even ever remember visiting. Travelled to dangerous off-track places. Trusted strangers. Hitch-hiked. Took every new drug that came my way. Every experience. I’ve skydived. Bungee-jumped. Swam with sharks. Had more concussions than sense. Broke the majority of the bones in my body with my stupid risks, more metal than brains now, as my dad always says.
Starved my body. Then in severe depression and withdrawal gorged on all the magnificence the world has to offer. As much pizza and whiskey as a body can handle! Relations with every sexy person I could. Exposed myself to toxic waste and several wars in the pursuit of my journalistic career, and contracted more parasites than I care to recount. Oh. And I also smoke.
I shouldn’t be alive at all I suppose. But I’ve always felt that what’s the point of living a life of safety and caution when our only guarantee is that we go? Each experience and pain and bliss is a story and a lesson. An opportunity and a chance to adapt. Without risks life is boring. Without pain and sadness, you can never truly understand joy.
I came home after years of an hedonistic and at times almost sadistic odyssey of exploration and found myself with heavy metal poisoning and leukemia, C-PTSD, a traumatic brain injury, persistent cyst-making tapeworms, dormant malaria, multiple and compound fractures that left my body full of arthritis, metal plates, pins, and screws; and autoimmune responses to the multiple treatments I required.
Thing is though, even knowing what I know now. Having gone through all that pain. I’d do it all again. I am the person I am today because of that experience.
I often tell the parable of my two grandfathers. The chain-smoking, hard-living hedonist, who drank and ate to excess; and the simple, clean-living, clean-eating, moderate who hiked two miles each day. Which one do you think died of lung cancer and which is alive today, at a ripe old age, looking 20 years his junior? I’ll give ya a hint. It’s not the hedonist who got cancer.
Whether you live or die isn’t always up to you. If you miss out on living just to extend that life, what’s the fucking point? I’ll continue to drive into the wall and face life head-on, cause even if I die tomorrow, at least I know that I truly lived.
Each night is a fresh hell brought forth by memories I can never erase.
Since the war, my life has become a monotony of misery. My sheets soaked in sweat each night from panic, tangled and shredded at my feet from the struggle.
I’ve gone through five sets this year alone. And it’s only April.
Palms sweating. Heart racing. Numbness in every extremity. Unexplained, excruciating and near constant pain. Hot then instantly cold, unable to regulate my own internal thermostat. Racing thoughts of worthlessness and suicide. Rocking in my bed, unable to lift my head or even leave the safety of my sheets some days. The constant invisible agony that no one sees.
Each quick turn of the head gives me glimpses of gore. Hacked bodies lying on city streets, machetes headed in my direction. Flashbacks that can over take my whole reality and leave me in psychosis hell in an instant with terror in every direction. You see to me a trigger is only the small part of the gun staring in my face. It has no relation to the things it “should” and people’s coddled affection for my ailment only leaves me pitied and alone in my misery. There is no amount of shielding that will lessen my fate. You see, the smell of cooked bacon, reminds me of their burning flesh, but I can read about rape until the cows come home. I can explore gore without emotion, but spending joyful times with my nieces and nephews leaves me paralysed with dread for days.
You see, my brain has learned to interpret success and joy as pain and trauma. Permenantly etched as the new reality, each new bliss follows hours or days or even weeks of panic and intense urges to flee, run away, hide, or die. Just stop the pain that follows. I can’t go through it all again. Afraid to be happy, feeling underserving, it has transformed my life into a sad misery where every joy is literally pain. Pure torture.
When people laugh and joke that they have “PTSD” after something minorly annoying happens to them, I feel like they have just punched me in the gut and left me breathless, keeling over from worthlessness. Diminished. Like my struggle is worthy of their laughter, and that I am somehow weak for having this viseral physical reaction to the protracted trauma I experienced. I consider if for just one moment they could reach inside my head and feel this type of terror face to face if they’d ever make that joke again. But then, I wouldn’t wish that horror on anyone. Not even for a moment.
My reality looks bleak. There’s a 70% chance I’ll suffer from this trauma for the rest of my existence. You see, I’m a prisoner of war, trapped forever in the hell my own brain has created to compensate for the horrors it could not explain. It’s no wonder most of us just decide to end it. There are enemies all among us, politely ensuring we survive only to endure more horror and there is no one ever coming to rescue us. We are in this all alone, forever.