I have always thought myself a free spirit,
a philosopher mendicant,
seeking an alternative,
more substantive lifestyle.
So many others, however, see my unorthodoxy, my spiritual seeking,
as abnormal and a clear indication
of my insanity.
Perhaps I need to pause
and to reevaluate my life.
After all, being insane is not something
one readily admits.
I guess it’s part of being crazy
to cling to a facade of sanity,
to think oneself normal
and everyone else insane.
One thing I am certain of, however,
I haven’t always been crazy.
Wasn’t born crazy.
I think insanity crept up on me,
happened in Vietnam, in the war.
War does that you know, drives people crazy.
Shell shock, battle fatigue,
soldier’s heart, PTSD.
All that killing and dying
can make anyone crazy.
Some survive war quite well, they tell me.
Many even benefit from its virtues.
But war’s effects are not always apparent.
No one escapes war unscathed
in body and in mind.
All war, any war, every war
ain’t no virtue in war.
I think, of those not driven crazy by war,
many were crazy already.
But theirs was an insanity
of a different kind,
a hard kind, an uncaring kind.
I knew people like that,
didn’t like them much.
Thought them fortunate, though
as killing and dying meant nothing.
In fact, in a perverse way, they enjoyed it,
enjoyed the jazz, the excitement, the power.
They became avenging angels,
even god herself,
making decisions of life and death,
but mostly death.
Those crazies hated to see the war end.
For me, the war never ends.
Sometimes things work out
for the best, though,
as my unorthodoxy, my being crazy,
probably saved my life.
You see, sane people can’t live like this,
in a war that never ends.
Not all crazy people can either.
Guess I was lucky.
Sometimes being crazy helps you cope.
Sometimes, I wish I was crazier than I am.
Serious introspection has made clear
the foundations of my unorthodoxy,
the nature of my insanity.
It is a cruel wisdom
allowing, no better, compelling
a clarity of vision.
I have seen the horror of war,
the futility and the waste.
I have endured the hypocrisy
and the arrogance
of the influential and the wealthy,
and have tolerated the ignorance
and narrow mindedness
of the compliant and the easily led.
War’s malevolent benefactors,
who pretend and profess their patriotism
with bumper-sticker bravado,
with word but not deed,
intoxicated by war’s hysteria,
from a safe distance.
Appreciative of our sacrifices they claim
as they applaud the impending slaughter,
sanctioning by word, or action, or non-action
sending other men and women
to be killed, and maimed,
and driven crazy by war.
And when they benefit
from the carnage no longer,
their yellow ribbon patriotism
and shallow concern
fade quickly to apathy and indifference.
The living refuse of war that returns
are heroes no longer,
but outcasts and derelicts,
and burdens on the economy.
The dead, they mythologize with memorials
and speeches of past
and future suffering and loss.
Inspiring and prophetic words
by those who sanction the slaughter
to those who know nothing of sacrifice.
I used to try to explain war
to help them understand
and to know its horror,
naively believing that war was a deficiency,
of information, understanding,
discernment, and vision.
But being crazy has liberated me
allowing me to see that war
is not a deficiency at all,
but an excess of greed, ambition,
intolerance, and lust for power.
And we are its instruments,
the cannon fodder,
in the ruthless pursuit
of wealth, power, hegemony, and empire.
And now, I accept
and I celebrate my unorthodoxy,
my insanity, as an indictment
of the hypocrites and the arrogant,
of the ignorant and the narrow-minded
for a collective responsibility and guilt
for murder and mayhem,
and crimes against humanity.
And I offer my insanity as a presage
of their future accountability,
to humankind in the courts of history,
and to the god they invoke so often
to sanction and make credible
their sacrilege of war.
I remember once, in another lifetime,
noticing a lone rose rising
defiantly from beneath the rubble
outside the destroyed city of Hue.
It had no business being there,
adding color to the drabness of war,
beauty to the ugliness of destruction,
and the hope of life
when life held nothing
but suffering and death.
It was a contradiction
and created confusion
amidst the clarity of killing to survive.
. . . I stepped on it.
There are no flowers in a war zone;
nor color, nor beauty, nor hope.
My god knows neither flag nor country,
supports neither political party nor ideology.
My god knows no distinction
between nations, religions, race, gender, sexual preference, or economic status.
My god is neither vengeful nor jealous.
My god is caring, merciful, and forgiving.
My god is a god of love and of peace.
My god is the way, the rhythm,
the harmony of all that exists.
To know my god is to respect
and to love the diversity
and yet the divinity of all of creation.
March of Folly
Marching in a parade
neither educates nor informs.
Nor does it help us put to rest
the turmoil of a life interrupted by war,
or forget the dying and the killing.
Rather it celebrates and perpetuates
the myth of honor and glory,
and "The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori."
I shall march no more.
Copyright © Camillo Mac Bica • All Rights Reserved