I suppose it would be pretty easy to blame the people for all this death and devastation. I don’t mean the terrorists, I mean the normal people going about their everyday lives. It was their self-interested tribalism, their contempt and bitterness for their fellow citizens that turned Iraq into a fragmented and powerless country, easy picking for those who deal in death. But really, they’re not very different from any other people in the world. You only have to look into a London Underground train of a rush-hour morning to see. Everyone doggedly guards whatever space they’ve carved out for themselves. Chairs are a thing of luxury and they’re greedily snatched up with a swiftness that would astound you. The people are packed in against each other, a hundred thousand grey faces refusing to meet each other's eyes, all stern and uncaring. Here someone holds up a newspaper to their face, there someone else taps away at a smart phone, all over a tense silence grinds down on the passengers. No wonder they’re driven to selfishness. But these are the people that people our world. Disgusting.
The world is a grey, hopeless hell. I used to believe differently. I used to believe that somewhere there were Edenic gardens, with sweet streams flowing from behind, banked on both sides with blue flowers. That one day I’d recline amongst the reed beds, drinking in the full, clean air and listen to the sound of trickling water all around, contented at last. But no longer. Eden dried up years ago and all that remains now is the brown, cracked earth and a few dead trees [link]. This is of course the fate of the whole world; five aeons from now the Sun will swallow up the Earth and all the rose gardens will wilt away. The planetary nebula will blast off into space and all that the Earth once was will be thrown out into its empty expanses as only so much star dust. Eventually universal entropy will reach its maximum and time will stand still. In the face of all that who has the strength to stand and look up at the sun?
I lie in bed sometimes, dreaming of the day when tears will have turned my eyes into sore, empty holes, like those of the demon of the waterless desert. Other times I curl up and think about the gentle, gentle light, waiting for the moment when my soul slips away. But sometimes the light creeps from my thoughts into my heart, and I find myself believing in a better future. Hope never really abandons me; it always ends up creeping up from behind and whispering into my chest. Perhaps I am enheartened by the news of fleeing Maslāwi Christians finding refuge in Najaf. Maybe, one day, Eden will ring with running water once again.
Image captured from Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)