Peace has a way of bombing you back to the Stone Age, doctor. Peace is that thunderous sense of dumb, heart-splitting glory in the most negligible of things.
People say they can’t “visualize world peace” because it’s boring? They are so wrong. Peace is horrifying because all your boundaries are gone. You are no longer female nor male; you’re not black nor white nor red nor brown; not rich nor poor; you have no sexual orientation—and what’s more, none of that matters.
Peace is beyond words or identity or recognition or prizes. That’s why nobody gives Peace a chance. They’d lose everything if they did.
Well, you asked, doctor. You asked me why I thought I was crazy. I am, you know. Being a lesbian is only a small part. Look at me, doctor. Look at my political buttons, my thrift-store clothes. I’m a Peace activist. From what you’d probably call the “radical lunatic fringe.”
Of course, I’m crazy. You’ve got to be cracked to bear in mind what this country is doing to the world. The invasions, the torture, the embargoes, the ecological disaster wrought by the U.S. of A. But these things don’t make me crazy. What makes me crazy is Peace. Underlying all my so-called “politics” is that still, small voice that tells me: every life weighs the same. This is, of course, the definition of insanity in America, doctor.
Also, I have no boundaries. But then, neither does my country. We both just take everything over. Case in point:
A few years ago, my mom, who I loved more than anyone—you would have liked her, too, doctor, an apolitical Midwestern woman who cannot be blamed for my condition—died young of a mild heart attack. Deep down, I still can’t understand why.
Here’s where my boundaries explode. Today, I read in the paper that approximately 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died, not of bad hearts, but of bullets, bombs and stab wounds. Now, according to our Declaration of Independence, it is a “self-evident” truth that each one of these Iraqis—or “men,” in the patriarchal terms of our slave-owning founding fathers—had a soul that was “created equal” to the soul of my mom. If I can’t comprehend the quiet death of my own mother, how can I possibly comprehend the brutal and needless deaths of 100,000 unrepeatable human individuals I will never meet?
I can’t. I can’t do the math. So I go nuts. I try to peel back the eyelids of America and decry the-loss-the-loss-the-loss forever of these beings to the world. People get it when you talk that way about the World Trade Center. But it sounds phony and self-righteous to mourn foreign lives. What comes out is: “Bush Lies! Who Dies? Bring the Troops Home!”
I say this loud and as often as possible. I chain myself to post office doors to protest US war taxes. I march around with five other whacked-out politicos in the cold and rain because people were tortured and humiliated at Abu Ghraib. We lie down in the streets of New York because people in the streets of Baghdad will never get up. I hand out badly-Xeroxed flyers I forgot to proofread that talk about the capitalist-imperialist-racist-homophobic-US-war-machine, and everywhere I go, I get these looks that say, “get that strident, rhetorical, obnoxious creep away from me.” Let’s face it, doc, I am obnoxious. Plus, I’m a laughing-stock.
For example, I’m starting to develop conspiracy theories about the recent election. That’s very funny. And I can’t remember how I should talk to sane people, the ones who “don’t get it.” Like you, doctor.
I mean, look at you. Haven’t you been indoctrinated to promote what is sane? Don’t you dutifully believe the pundits and legislators and teachers and commanders who daily preserve—in well-modulated, National-Public-Radio tones—the stabilizing wisdom that American lives are naturally more valuable than other lives?
Doesn’t this permit you to pay bills, read the paper, load the dishwasher, buy your kids presents with complete mental health? Americans like you, doctor, work all day, every day, to stave off the lunatic prospect that, for what your country is doing to the world, we will face retribution. Your sanity also allows you to accept me: another ignorable, sign-waving crazy. Because allowing me to wave a sign proves that you still live in a democracy, doctor. You straight, white, middle-class male of European descent.
Hey, I’m obnoxious, remember? Never let it be said that I have pure motives. Here’s an inside tip. Outside the transcendent visions of Peace, activists have the same ego and bad faith as anybody else. At this moment, for instance, I don’t want Peace; I simply want you, doctor, to congratulate me for being a Peace activist. I want you to tell me I’m right, dammit. I want to make you ashamed for the suffering I can’t stop.
That reminds me, I came here about my suffering. The thing is, I’m tired of being an outsider, of being dismissed and laughed at. I am willing to give up Peace in order to become sane. Is there some pill I could take? Some aversion therapy you perfected on queers? Could you maybe show me a picture of Martin Luther King, then apply the electric current? Or program me to believe that I’d be on the cutting-edge of human rights by working for gays to be included in the US military?
You got to bring me in from the cold, doc. I’m lonely. Make me fit in. Make me an American again.