Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Liquidation of Innocence

You are a young child of three. You hear the phone ring in the night. Your father answers. Your mother screams and then starts to sob. For hours and hours. Your father’s cousin’s husband was shot in his bed from outside the house, through the stucco. The wife, his cousin, survived. The unofficial explanation was that the husband had gotten mixed up with the wrong group and he was eliminated.

Your grandfather and his friend are sitting outside, under the grape arbor, cracking walnuts and reminiscing. They speak of a mutual friend of theirs who, all of a sudden, disappeared, car and all. Years later, as Los Angeles grew out, and subdivisions were developed, the car was found, rotted out from being buried in lime. There were no signs of their friend, who was never heard from again.

An aunt in the last years of her life, telling stories about her childhood. Her father was mercurial. At times they would live in two story homes and drive long black cars. At other times, the family was so poor some of the kids were farmed out to orphanages. The father’s brother was a promoter of sorts. One day, in South Dallas he was found with a new pair of fitted concrete shoes, several feet under the Trinity River.

Violence against people. Violence against barrels of wine. Violence everywhere, it seems. Kids killing kids. Sickness. But not mafia, or the more generalized concept of mafioso. Not in America. Some of us are certain about mafia violence; it has touched us. Still, some of my Italian friends insist that when something bad happens it falls under the general category of mafia. These friends, I think, haven’t been touched like some of us. If they had been they wouldn’t be talking in such an ignorant manner.

America, we know crime. It’s all around us. On our border, near El Paso, there is guerrilla warfare at a scale that one might find in Kabul or Baghdad. A few barrels of wine in Montalcino, I suggest, is not anywhere near the magnitude of gravity that we are witnessing on the world stage. Perspective, patience, holding one’s prejudices in check. Time will reveal the true culprit; the evil heart of man, larger than any mafia, and more powerful.

Beyond the evil heart, though, is the sick mind, capable of even more horrendous destruction. It is all around us, in our neighborhoods, in our villages, lurking around our homes, our businesses, our kitchens, our cellars, our classrooms. In America we are only too familiar with the destructive combination of evil and illness. Yes, the mafia is part of it, but only a very small part. To blame something that small is to do what? To make ourselves feel better because we have “identified” the true cause? Please, dear Italian friends, which cliff are your heading towards at 200kmh? Stop it. Pull over; get some rest and some clarity.

For our friends in Montalcino, the light of a new day has shined on the evil doing of another day. The culprit isn’t the mafia, or even the concept of "mafioso" some of my dear Italian friends still hang on to for dear life. The light is shining on a more local cause: retribution. Something each and every one of us is capable of.

Back home in America, the solution isn’t as simple. Here, we have children killing children. Sick children. Meanwhile the stunned adults are asking, why? This isn’t some amount of hectoliters of wine that will someday be grown and re-made. These are lives that will never grow back. No, not a mafia conspiracy. Just a pandemic of sick minds and savage hearts, tearing our world apart, piece by piece.

This is the world we have made for our children and our children have become more dangerous (and endangered) than any mafia could ever hope to become.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's why we should drink more wine. Enjoy life, cherish the beauty and light. For without the savage, cruel and dark the good and light cannot exist....

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