Although I’m the first to admit that the very idea is fantastical and very much improbable, I like the idea of alternate universes.
Alternate universes are worlds like ours, but different. They are every fiction story ever written. They are fanfic. They are what would happen if this battle was lost or this person lived or that person took the left road and not the right one on a summer evening. They are constantly created, constantly evolving, just as we do. Alternate universes are the home of fantasy, magic, play, hope and joy. They are also where evil lurks, the Nazis won, vampires and werewolves rule, and the feudal system is spread over all the different continents on different planets in different spaces than ours.
There is an alternate universe where Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes both exist, and where Mycroft Holmes absolutely hates dealing with the wizarding world and they feel much the same about him.
There is an alternate universe where the American Indians conquered Europe instead of the other way around.
There is an alternate universe where people have wings.
There is an alternate universe where I have a real job.
There is an alternate universe where everyone agrees that Black Lives Matter.
There is an alternate universe where people stop killing disabled people.
All of these are, unfortunately, equally improbable scenarios.
Something really horrible happened in Orlando, and my Facebook lit up like a Christmas tree. Something really horrible happened in France, and people posted stuff in French that I don’t know what it meant because I don’t speak French but I assume had something to do with solidarity or something. Something really horrible happened in Iraq, and my friends ask why the news media doesn’t cover it.
Something really horrible happened in Japan. Really, really horrible. Someone targeted people, and not just any people, but my people. This person declared (last winter!) that disabled people deserved to die and he would kill them, and he did.
He murdered nineteen people and injured forty nine.
Once again my Facebook lights up, but there’s a crucial difference. Now, only my friends in the disability community are talking about it.
Only we are weeping.
Only we seem to care.
People say that people were murdered ‘in cold blood’. I don’t know what that means. Blood is warm. I gave blood a few weeks ago and they lay the bags against my legs for a moment and I was genuinely surprised at how warm it was.
Blood is, give or take, 98.6 degrees F. You cannot murder someone in cold blood because if their blood was cold they would be dead already. You can only murder them in warm blood, in hot blood that spurts out and drains away from the body, leaving people conscious for agonizing minutes as their life force attempts to rush to their heart and brain. Thanks to my own morbid fascinations I know about death. I know how it works, how the body resists dying. How it dies anyway.
At some point in high school English most everyone studies the Dylan Thomas poem, ‘Do not go gentle into that good night,’ and although I hated English overall, that poem is famous for a reason. It’s a good one. It’s about how we all – it only refers to men, but I do think it means all of humanity – fight to live, no matter what our circumstances. We waste time, we do not realize how valuable it is, until the end, when we ‘rage, rage against the dying of the light.’
The media hasn’t even released the names of those murdered (on Tuesday, July 26, 2016) yet. We know precious little about the precious lives that were lost. Only that they were disabled, and were shut away, out of sight, out of mind. And I will not begin to attempt to unravel the cultural or societal factors which we must consider here, except to say that I acknowledge that this tragedy is harder to bear for disabled people of color.
And anyway, I don’t think it was Japanese society or culture that led that man (whom I refuse to name, he gets so much press time anyway, he doesn’t deserve it, they do and I don’t know their names) I don’t think it was Japanese society or culture that led that man to murder. I think it was worldwide society and culture, and the fact that, worldwide, non-disabled people simply do not see the value in disabled lives.
And that scares me. Terrifies me. In the deep, cold, bottom of my soul there is a fear that I cannot get rid of.
And that was just this week. Last week, the very worst of American society came together when an autistic mans’ therapist was shot by police as he attempted to help his client in a public space.
The last I heard, the officer who shot the therapist (and was aiming for the autistic, Arnaldo Soto) had not been charged with any crimes. The therapist, Charles Kinsey, survived, but both he and Soto are beyond traumatized by the event. Two laws were broken: being black in public, and being disabled in public. Not allowed. Both men were POC. Not safe.
I cannot help but feel that my thankfulness over this is somehow misplaced. Shouldn’t I be outraged instead of thankful? Shouldn’t I be angry?
Only I don’t do anger so well. My body doesn’t know how to deal with it. My brain cannot process these incidents as they continue to happen, over and over, again and again, and nothing is done, and nobody cares except the people who have been caring all along.
My body is sadness and pain and heat and headache and heartache. It is batshit terrified that my friends of color will be the next headlines. It is exhausted and battered. Can your soul ache as well as your head? My soul aches. My soul aches for these beautiful people, and for this world which says that these beautiful people have no right to live in it.
I cannot read anymore, I cannot watch anymore, I cannot listen anymore. Too many murders, too many bits of metal whizzing through warm bodies, too much blood soaking the streets and the floors. I turn to my fiction, to my Harry Potter and Sherlock and BBC fantasies. I turn to my alternate universes where none of this exists and it is just me, and a book, and my ipad, and the peaceful English villages filled with happy people in old fashioned clothes who never existed except on the screen and in my mind.
I cannot hold anymore.
I cannot do anymore.
Here is a song.
It’s by Tim Minchin. It’s called ‘Quiet’ and is from Matilda, the musical.*
Have you ever wondered, well I have.
About how when I say, say red, for example.
There’s no way of knowing if red
Means the same thing in your head
As red means in my head. When someone says red
It’s as if we are traveling at, almost the speed of light
And we’re holding a light
That light will still travel away from us
At the full speed of light, which seems right in a way
What I’m trying to say, I’m not sure
But I wonder if inside my head
I’m not just a bit different from some of my friends
These answers that come into my mind unbidden
These stories delivered to me fully written!
And when everyone shouts like they seem to like shouting
The noise in my head is incredibly loud!
And I just wish they’d stop, my Dad and my Mum.
And the telly and stories would stop just for once!
And I’m sorry, I’m not quite explaining it right.
But this noise becomes anger and the anger is light
And its burning inside me would usually fade.
But it isn’t today!
And the heat and the shouting.
And my heart is pounding.
And my eyes are burning
And suddenly everything, everything is…
Like silence, but not really silent.
Just that still sort of quiet.
Like the sound of a page being turned in a book.
Or a pause in a walk in the woods.
Like silence, but not really silent.
Just that nice kind of quiet.
Like the sound when you lie upside down in your bed.
Just the sound of your heart in your head.
And though the people around me.
Their mouths are still moving.
The words they are forming,
Cannot reach me anymore!
And it is quiet.
And I am warm.
Like I’ve sailed.
Into the eye of the storm.
*overall, I dislike this musical as the parents and Trunchbull characters are awful and overblown and overbearing, but the character of Matilda is fantastic in it and I highly recommend googling and listening to this song, there are several good versions on youtube.
best place to learn about Japan tragedy is here: http://carlyfindlay.blogspot.com.au/2016/07/the-silence-around-sagamihara.html