Tag: collateral damage

The Last Thoughts of Delavan, Killed by an American Bomb

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

I did not yet know that Delavan was going to die today. On the scorching March morning, the young hustler and I had taken to the burning streets with our bare feet, hustling towards the center of town.

We traveled through slums far worse than our own, where cardboard shacks endlessly lined the streets. A powerful enough gust of wind blew them apart, crinkling the doors made of only newspaper. While we struggled for clean clothing and education, the people here sought shade and water.

All of a sudden, not a mile from town, Delavan stops on a dime. A girl with faded rags and a dust-caked face sits on the side of the road, tears streaming down her gentle face. She looked no more than six, but lived through horrors that even Delavan, the son of a poor baker, would never have to experience for himself.

With a kind smile, he approaches the girl, who points and wails at the flaming shelter behind her. Beyond the ruins, two men are in combat, one holding a box of matches. The second man is badly burned on one side, with hair singed off his head and face. Perhaps the other, the defendant, is the girl’s brother or father. Each time the attacker lands a blow, the terrifyingly real thud sends the man and the little girl into further agony.

Delavan, nearly always gleeful despite his own poverty, distracts the girl. He opens the large leather bag around his shoulder and pulls out a loaf of bread. Though she does not speak as he places it in her tiny hands, her widened pupils reveal she has seldom, if ever, held this volume of food at once. She gives him a weak hug and begins to eat, as Delavan smiles and continues his journey.

I don’t think I would have noticed the girl, let alone stopped for her. Coming from a poorer area than Delavan, though only slightly, the travesties of everyday life fail to faze me.

As we approach the center of town, time passes in a blur. It often occurs this way, in the beautiful agora that forms every weekend morning. The rich set up stands with umbrellas and patchwork tarps, forming beautifully-faded rainbows that lined the busy streets. Those with a little bit of money, such as Delavan and I, carry as much as we have in bags and begin the routine shouting and selling, trying to avoid competitors who can sell for less. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, we usually arrive with bags full of bread, and leave with bags full of dough.

All the while, the poor lay on the outskirts, begging for money, for food, for anything to stretch their tragic lives another day. The most polite of those with money make no notice of the poorest of the poor. Those without dignity call them leeches and spit in their faces, kicking them away from their entitled path.

Delavan, of course, gives nearly half of what he has to this ever-struggling class in a land of ever-struggling classes. Today, though, the world did not bless him with that opportunity. For as soon as he approached his first buyer, a bomb fell on him, blowing them both to pieces.

I believe that his last thoughts were of how he could further help the poor girl from the journey. But the bomb ensured that she would suffer alongside him.

The blast threw me backwards, and before long, many more came behind it. Though the agora differed greatly in class, we were now all the same, caught under merciless missile fire from above.

As a child, my mother told me of the world’s unfortunate reality, that below the breathtaking skies and beautiful rainbows lived a world of death, hatred, and destruction. I had laughed her off then. I could not possibly imagine breathtaking skies or beautiful rainbows, only endless heat.

Now, as the destruction came from above the rainbows, destroying them on impact, I felt my world truly turn upside down.

As the missiles rained down around me, I fled, faster than humanly possible. Racing through the streets, putting as much distance between myself and the town as I could, I failed to notice the little girl, still eating Delavan’s last gift to the world.

I remember collapsing in the street somewhere, losing my voice, screaming his name until my throat was raw. I pounded the pavement with my fists in fury, cursing whoever was responsible for the attack. The blood that ran from them was inconsequential, and meant nothing next to the suffering of so many that day. Of Delavan.

Tears ran down my face, as they had the girl’s, and as bomb after bomb rained down from afar, I felt about as old, and about as strong.

In the days and weeks that passed, I did not return to the market. When I finally did, some months later, I heard word of a faulty bomb with an American flag on its side. I knew little about America, but now I learned that they were part of a war against us. They killed my best friend, and whether intentional or not, there was nothing in the world that could bring him back.

I began to wonder if it was about the color of my skin. If for some reason, America hated us for who we are, for our differences. But as I later realized, the very man Delavan was about to trade with was American. A tourist from a far away place called Virginia, he had only wanted to taste local bread, before his own country slaughtered him along with my own people.

I do not take a great deal of pride in my own life. Though my family survives and has shelter and food, abject poverty strikes us relentlessly, almost like the bomb struck Delavan. But, unlike Delavan, our lives will continue. I wonder if, back in America, they know about the lives of those who survive, and of those who don’t. I don’t know who makes the decisions in America, but I wonder if they know that they are responsible for his death. They should know Delavan’s story, should hear it before sending more instruments of death to plague us again. But until that day, we all sit under the bombs, waiting for our turn, never knowing when they may come.


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A Free Society Doesn’t Assault and Kill Children

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

There is something fundamentally wrong with the United States of America. The time for patriotism, for honor, for pride, has long since run off like an embarrassed father of a financially failing family. Now, long since buried in a morose depression, it is time to weep. The economy, as it stands today, is in a simply excellent condition. Unemployment is low, incomes are up. Technology only continues to advance, as the quality of living increases for everyone across the globe. Our esteemed free society, in the eyes of many, is in the midst of some of its best times. This all matters very little.

In the grand scheme of things, most would agree that human life is the most valuable resource. However, it appears that the leaders of our society do not share this seemingly obvious opinion. For time and time again, they continue to violate the basic law of nature, compassion and morality, by assaulting the most innocent members of our society. Ladies and gents, the United States government, comprised of the professed rulers of a free society, is continually killing and assaulting innocent children. This is not compatible with the ideals of freedom and prosperity.

In the past week, two blatant violations of morality stand out, in particular. Many others have undoubtedly occurred and been forgotten like a high school outsider. The thing is, matters of life or death are more important than some American’s exclusion. All lives matter. Black lives matter, police lives matter, and foreign lives matter. None matter more than any other, and there is absolutely no need to senselessly politicize any of them, when the government respects none of them.

To the foreign soldiers killed by American soldiers this week, I am sincerely sorry you had to die, and wish you a gentle journey to the afterlife. I wish the exact same for American soldiers killed by foreign soldiers, and foreign soldiers killed by other foreign soldiers. Nationality does not define the meaning of a life. Thus, your badge and flag do not give your life any more intrinsic meaning than anyone else’s.

Coming back home, though, it is obvious that not only soldiers have a violence problem. Our free society’s very own police force has quite a lot of the same.

Just a couple of days ago, a tragedy occurred in Cincinnati. After an eleven year old girl stole small amounts of food from a Kroger, an unnamed, off-duty officer brutally Tased the girl, leaving gashes on her back. This is simply not an acceptable action. The girl’s mother, Donna Gowdy, states it perfectly. “If you can’t handle an 11-year-old child, then you really need to get off the police force.”

The fact that America needs to have this discussion at all is mind-boggling. The officer, it appears, will not be facing any charges for his actions. In fact, Cincinnati policy allows the police to use tasers on anyone between the ages of 7 and 70. In what world is it necessary or acceptable to use potentially lethal force on a seven year old child? Surely this cannot occur in a free society. Perhaps the world needs new standards on just what a free society really is…

Going beyond our own borders, the American trail of blood only deepens, both metaphorically and literally. More specifically, this week’s news moves from assault to death. Thursday morning in Yemen, the United States gave fuel, weapons, and mid-air support to planes in their coalition with the UK and Saudi Arabia. Their collective results? One of the planes hit a bus in the middle of a marketplace. The bus was carrying a group of children on their way to summer camp. Because of the ever so free society and their military coalition, dozens of children will never make it to summer camp.

Free societies do not kill children, and they furthermore do not call it collateral damage. But from Vietnam to the Gulf, both of those things are constant. The state dehumanizes these civilians, whittling away their lives one by one. The empire feeds on the blood of the innocent. The only way to end this is to end war and to bring back accountability. All lives matter, whether domestic or foreign, and a truly free society will always recognize this. America, it’s time for you to become one.


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