Connected

I wish I saw the Wallflowers

at the Hartford Meadows

on the twelfth of September

eighteen years ago.

I used to love The Wallflowers

and my mom bought tickets

for my 17th birthday

and I waited all summer long

and now I’d finally get to see

a concert beneath the pavilion

instead of on the lawn

I’d get to skip football practice

and we’d stop at Fitzwilly’s for dinner

and I’d get a Ruben

and we’d split spinach and artichoke dip

then drive an hour south

and park in the cheap parking lot

the one across the bridge

and maybe mom would get me a bootleg concert t-shirt

from the guy selling them out of the trash bag

but the concert was canceled

and I had to attend a candle light vigil

on the twelfth of September 18 years ago

and there were so many American flags there

and if you didn’t bring one

someone gave one to you

but I brought one

and I joined everyone else as we waved our flags

and listened to people talk

but really, I had no idea what we were doing

we weren’t mourning

it felt like a pep rally for America

we were salivating

we were lusting for revenge

all of us Christians

we wanted blood

and I remember one kid yelling

racial slurs at a Muslim girl

the only Muslim in the entire school

a 7th grader on the girls soccer team

and no one stopped him

because we were cowards like The Wallflowers

we were wallflowers

and maybe we were starting to agree

with everything we’d seen on the TV the night before

they attacked us

it’s time for war.

They attacked us.

Back then I didn’t even know anyone from New York.

I’d only been there twice on school trips

to the statue of liberty

to the UN

to the lobby of the World Trade Center

but New York might as well have been LA

or Paris or Madrid

or anywhere else in the world

but a t-shirt I bought in the city for $3

told me I loved NY

and I genuinely cried for New Yorkers

because they were human beings

but also because the newsmen kept pointing out

how connected we are

how connected we are

how connected we are

how connected we were

how connected we were

but I didn’t really get it

I was no more connected to them

than I was to any other people on earth.

“Yes you are” said the TV, “Yes you are”.

My people didn’t work at banks

the tallest building in my town was a church

I’d never been on an airplane

but the American flag was flying

all around my hometown

and our coach gave us American flag stickers

to stick on the front of our helmets

and those same flags were flying in NYC

so I figured the newsmen must be right

we were connected by our nationalism

we were connected by the pledge we’d all been forced to take

we were connected by the federal interstate highway system

we were connected by the oil coursing through America’s veins

we were connected by our belief in a Christian god

we were connected by Jesus who taught us to turn the other cheek

who said “blessed are the meek”

and we were connected when we cheered

as million dollar bombs began to rain down on the weak,

as million dollar bombs were destroying the Afghan countryside

we waved our flags and took great pride in our country

we stood, united in our hatred

from sea to shining sea

nodding off in front of the TV each night

nodding along as the newsmen lost all neutrality

and became paid promoters of the fight

and said those ‘radicals on the left’

were not in their right mind

that they were blind if they thought that Jesus

wouldn’t seek revenge too

they were blind if they thought that American hating terrorists

didn’t just spring up out of the blue because they hate me and you

and because they hate all of our freedom.

Most Americans were just wallflowers

but we all joined in the revenge

either putting on a uniform like I did

or putting a few stickers and magnets on our truck, SUV, or car

and as the years went on

we talked about the revenge less and less

and spent more and more time at the bar

and the lucky majority almost entirely forgot about the wars,

almost entirely forgot about the attack

almost entirely forgot about the firefighters

dying with black lungs

and it’s absolutely insane that 18 years later

we’re still paying for the war/s

we’re still funding the revenge

we’re still all wallflowers

deadly silent as America gets more and more violent

and it has nothing to do with Muslims

or boogeymen

or scarecrows

it’s middle class white American men wearing preppy clothes

and we’re all connected to them

by the federal interstate highway system

and we’re all connected to them

by the oil coursing through America’s veins

and we’re all connected to them by our pledge of allegiance

and we’re all connected to them

by our nationalism

and we’re all connected to them

by our ignorance and fear

and we’re all connected to them

by Jesus who said, “blessed are the meak”

and they are America

and they are terrorists

preying on the weak

and we are all wallflowers

and of course it’s all connected

but we’ll only stand up and yell again

when the newsmen tell us to

and if there is a hell

you belong there if you still,

after 18 years

support the red, white, and blue

despite all that we’ve done

and all that we do.

Shame on you!

You and I were no more connected

to a few thousand Americans killed

than we are to the countless thousands

and thousands

and thousands

and thousands

and thousands of people

who were killed by acts of terror

during the past 18 years of revenge

or hundreds of years of colonialism.

American life is worth no more

and no less

than any other life.

All life is precious,

and all violence is horrible

but if we’re keeping score

which Americans love to do

it’s not even close

we’ve killed exponentially more

during nearly four centuries

of genocide,

slavery,

and war.

I mourn those killed on nine-eleven proportionately,

alongside the millions killed

by the “land of the free”.

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About soitgoes1984

I live on a small island in the middle of the Pacific ocean in the Hawaiian Kingdom which is currently illegally occupied by the American government. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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