[And once again, a shout-out to Janine Mendes-Franco for her selection of another Jenius post in Global Voices Online. I'd blush, but I'm not humble.]
On Three Kings Day, the traditional Puerto Rican day for sharing gifts and celebrating the (extended) joy of Christmas, the death toll by murder on My Island this year stands at 19.
Six days into 2010...19 dead.
I've said before that We don't care about the death toll because it happens to "them", not "Us," to "them" that live in housing projects and Section 8 homes, to "them" that live in the parts of town "We" avoid, to "them" that drop out of school and choose the "easy" life, not like "Us" who stay in school and scheme for the easy life.
And "their" blood isn't "Ours"...though it is spilled on Our streets day after day.
Indifference to the enormous toll of pain, anguish and suffering caused and exemplified by these deaths is the sign of a sick society, one enfeebled by its own ennui. But We are not enfeebled by this. No. Worse: We are energized.
You read that right: I'm stating We thrive on this pain, that We actually hunger for it, that We are--in short--ghouls.
Happy Three Kings Day.
We are a society that marks a mental calendar from sadistic crime to massacre to killing spree, skipping from to one to another like tombstones on a hellish pond. We sit every day before Our TV sets to drink in the gruesome details of the deaths, the spilled blood, the emotional wreckage of the surviving loved ones with attention to details and indifference to what they truly mean. Our eyes are the cameras that linger over the corpses, bullet holes, spent casings and detritus of death while Our voices are echoed in the sycophantic presence of "reporters" jabbing themselves into the agony, like syringes filled with acid, never healing, but only causing more harm.
We glory in the follow-up, the newspaper reports of how many bullets were fired, how the victims were wounded unto death, and even if the death can be traced to another death and another, the sequence of violence laid out like a black garland of fatality, We don't give a damn about the pattern: We only care about the blood.
And We care about adding to the murder toll, a daily ticking upward reported with the consistency of nothing else on this Island.
The Roman Empire was said to have fallen because of its fanatical focus on "bread and circuses," some of which involved games of death. We have never had an empire. Our fanatical devotion seems to be more intent on gossip and bloodlust, not for games of death, but the actuality of rampant death in Our society. We perch like vultures waiting for the next sacks of carrion to parade before Our eyes, sanitized of smell and effect, third-hand removed by Our own lackwit vision of what that death--and the many others--mean to Us as a whole.
This isn't a day of kings. And ghouls don't deserve a day.
The Jenius Has Spoken.
Note: Another shooting victim died later, raising the Three Kings death count to 20.