Tragic as any death may be, there has also been a spate of violent deaths that gives me pause. Counterlight reflects on the run of gun violence in the US with over 30 people killed in mass shootings of one form or another over the last week, some of them children. The reason for it is unclear (in at least two cases the killer himself died.)
And, in an example of how fundamentalism can contribute to violence, News from Iraq
Two gay men were killed in Baghdad's Sadr City slum, a local official said on Saturday, and police said they had found the bodies of four more after clerics urged a crackdown on a perceived spread of homosexuality.....Too many deaths. And in the comments to this post, Ann tells us of Aaron, a young man savagely beaten in Denver for the sin of being gay and hanging by a thread; let us hope that he does not add to this number.
Sermons condemning homosexuality were read at the last two Friday prayer gatherings in Sadr City, a sprawling Baghdad slum of some 2 million people.
Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, wrote Dr Donne, and on this day, I feel diminished, and so very, very tired of the antagonism and the battles and the arguments that pass for discourse and cheap points scored at the cost of another. I am longing for some peace and security, with a fleeting hope that we can find what unites us, rather than constantly dividing into the "Us" and "Them". Gay vs Straight. Blue vs Red. Christian vs. Atheist.
Instead, I feel much the same grimness expressed by Matthew Arnold in Dover Beach . This poem is speaking to me these days far too much, with the noise and stink of those armies far too close.
The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegaean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.