Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

I left the flotilla protest distressed and shaken

by nicta Mon May 31st, 2010 at 03:17:40 PM EST

I went to the pro-flotilla demonstration in Paris, at Metro Franklin D. Roosevelt. There, for a brief moment, I experienced the most intense sense of dread, despair and sadness I've ever felt; I ran away and cried.

(XP'd at the Orange site and at Reddit)

I'm snapping pictures, trying to reach above the small crowd to shoot the speaker. As I lower my camera to look at the preview, I notice in my peripheral vision someone looking at me from below. I turn my head slightly to face her and I see this young woman in a wheelchair.

It takes me a split second to realize what I'm seeing. She is completely disfigured. She wasn't really looking at me, she was probably missing most of her eyelids. Her skin is black and parched like that of a mummy. Of her hands, I guess only mere stubs remain under the long sleeves covering them. I think she's missing a foot.

She has a signboard attached upon her wheelchair that tells her story, I think it says that she is a refugee, and she was the victim of an Israeli bombing. I'm not sure because within one tenth of a second I realize that, not only am I staring at her, but I'm looking horrified. So I turn around and move away.

Dread, shame, utter shame, despair, utter sadness.

I look back, see the back of her wheelchair. I see the person accompanying her, she is talking to her, looks at her lovingly. Probably her mother. She has to be very strong. My eyes are wet.

I try to think of something else. I call a friend who works in the area. He's too busy at the moment. So I decide to go shopping on the Champs Elysees. I see an ad for the iPad. I swore I wouldn't buy one because DRM sucks and all that, but my brother got one and it's an awesome toy. Every store is sold out. I go on a hunt and finally one tiny Apple reseller near Pompidou has one left. Yay.

So I go home, unpack the iPad, plug it in, and here I am, sitting at my desk, and I think of her. I can't think of anything else. Useless me and my stupid toys.

There are things you can do, things you can influence, and things that are simply out of reach. I first learned that back in the 60s when, despite everything we did, the US government kept right on war-making in Viet Nam.  And I've kept learning it with every defeat since.

And the occasional victory, too.  ;-)


What you did wasn't useless.  You did what you could do.  Nobody can do more than that.

Please recognize you experienced a profound Shock and people react to Shock in a myriad of ways.  Yours happened to be to go shopping.  Mine was getting drunk until I passed out.  Of the two yours was a much better response.  (Believe me.)


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon May 31st, 2010 at 04:18:46 PM EST
You will come to terms with this. To be whole we must be able to comprehend both the pain and the joy of being human. And still go on living.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon May 31st, 2010 at 11:04:22 PM EST
You may feel that way in the context of not staying there or inability to impact anything in the external material world to correct the situation.

But it was not useless.  Look at what impact it had on you.  Look at this diary that puts a lump in the throat of readers.  That internal impact on you appears to one of those that stays with and perhaps shapes a person.  That impact may work in ways that makes you a full time activist or more involved with a purpose in the future.

So like you should do after any major milestone, professional or personal, great achievement of shocking and troubling experience, go play with your toy!  You deserve it.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"

by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 07:07:14 AM EST

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries