So my friend. A man so beloved I wish everyone in the world knew his brilliance, his depression, his humanity, compassion and crippling guilt, he sends me this picture – the picture. The picture that will forever be seared in my mind and heart and known around the world as simply “the picture“.
Manifested without warning like an evanescent puff of air as an attachment marked “Dhaka. jpg”, with no more distinction than a recipe for chocolate chip cookies or dick pills. It might have been tagged “A picture from Dhaka that will rip your heart out forever.jpg”. But it wasn’t, so I clicked on it.
And so it was that my heart was rendered and joined those two in the rubble of their loving embrace surrounded by jagged rebar and shreds of pretty cloth.
I’m growing old and have lived life under capitalism since the day I was born. Raised in Saratoga Springs with that remarkable incuriosity that was typical but no longer emblematic of childhood in a privileged community. It never occurred to me to ask what happened to all the pretty horses when people were through betting on them. From my first breath I was inured to a system that left me afflicted with profound indifference to those around me together with the psychic bifurcation of the middle class that looks up with cloying aspiration and down and backward with fear and loathing.
Armed with all the wrong maps I learned all the wrong lessons as I moved like an alcoholic from scotch to vodka constellating from a public relations campaign called the “war on drugs” in the service of my country to Wall Street where I aspired to nothing more than a tax problem and a closet full of apparel from Barneys. I was going to show them. The ghosts of my them.
After doing enough damage to myself and others in the service of power and privilege to feel like crap every day for the rest of my life, I bottomed out in a space that took ten years to emerge from. I awakened only to find myself entombed, but no longer indifferent. Poor but engaged and aware. Awake.
And now I see, clearly, as an employee in the fashion industry here in the United States earning a subsistence wage used to pay for food, gas and health care so my teeth don’t fall out that the difference between me and a thousand brown brothers and sisters crushed to death and a couple thousand more mutilated in a collapsed building built on the cheap half a world away is – in fact – razor thin. In fact, there is no difference. And that is the truth and the truth of that reality. And no one should be indifferent to that any more. The hour is growing late and its time to name the beast before this country becomes Gaza writ large.
We can name the unscrupulous bastards in its service who are paid hundreds and hundreds of times more than its lowest paid worker in hierarchical corporate structures. We can name the supine and thoroughly corrupt courtiers to power in the halls of congressional legislatures and parliaments all over the world. We can name the heads of all those companies that use the heads of all those subcontractors who work pools of labor to death in systems a notch above chattel slavery so we can buy smartphones and tablets from gleaming monuments to our own vanity to stay in touch with a world we’re largely ignorant of and willfully indifferent to. We can. And we should.
And we will. But before we continue with the issue specific rodomontade of 400 ppm, drone strikes, pipelines, bankers, diplomats, hedge fund managers, presidents, generals, black sites, energy, health care, insurance, apparel companies and death dealers of every stripe – let’s hit the pause button for just a second. For just a second. For the sake of a couple of impoverished garment workers embracing each other in their last seconds of life. For a naked girl in black and white screaming her head off running up a dirt road forever from her napalmed village in Vietnam, let’s pause and name the beast. The beast that does all of this.
This man made economic system that has become a religion unto itself that must be put to death before it destroys our planet and everything and everyone on it.
The doctrine of laissez faire corporate capitalism. Organize and end it. Use buying power to simply say no. Money is their oxygen; take it away and you smother them. And they die like once majestic thoroughbreds that can’t turn a buck any more. They starve where they stand in open fields of an Oklahoma winter.