Select Page

Offbeat 14 November 2014

Among all the human rights that are stated in technical documentation, the one right that is missing is the right to be able to hope.

I consider myself a writer. Although time is incredibly short I try to scratch out half an hour here or fifteen minutes there to put some ideas on paper, write a bit of dialogue of just spend some time in my head working out why a monster exists and the gruesome things it will do to my characters. Think of it as a substitute for something like following the Premier League or creative macrame.
Naturally, as a writer I have a decent collection of Marvel comics, the place where many writers begin to work with their imagination. ‘So what if Doctor Octopus ripped Spider-Man to shreds? What then?’ I also have a fairly respectable collection of Judge Dredd comics from the Nineties.
The Marvel comics, which are now sold as collectors’ items in local bookstores, are slightly deficient. Although they contain the story lines, they lack a part of the magic. One of the ‘added extras’ of the comics during the Seventies and early Eighties, the ads for toys and gadgets that you could earn by selling stuff, are not contained in those volumes. There aren’t any ads for Sea Monkeys or schedules for Saturday morning television in the US either.
I have half a mind that I want to look at those again, to remember that magic and desire. Those ads made me think that America was a wonderful place, and made me want to live there with all my heart. That was my ‘American Dream’.

Flash forward past the Nineties, Millennium and Noughties. Here in the teen years of the century, the USA looks like a very different place.
This week a ninety year old man was arrested for feeding the homeless in the US. That shocked me to the core.
The US has shown me so much. I have seen how children can be armed and exposed to guns, resulting in lethal incidents. Yet weapons are still seen as a right. Teenagers are jailed for rambunctious teenage behaviour. An influential religious figure called for the assassination of a foreign president. And right wing political figures find ways to justify rape.
I should be immune to the shock of that particular arrest, but apparently I am not.
The reasoning put forward was that free meals for the homeless encourages the homeless to stay. I can understand the logic of that, but I can only wonder that the solution shows callous disregard for the cause of the problem, and to arrest a ninety year old for an act of human kindness defies belief.
Judging by the media semiotics, I am not the only one who is shocked. International media reported it with breathless amazement.
It is just one incident that shows the abandonment of concern for humanity.
Here in Namibia we have similar problems. The rhinos, for instance are an issue, yet why not complement that concern with concern for human poverty and need? Further afield, the degenerate social system known as ISIS tortures and kills infants and children.
It feels a bit like humanity is becoming akin to rats in an overcrowded cage. The savagery is unbelievable. I used to think that it was people ‘who get in the way’ who suffer from the depredations of sick systems. Now I know for certain that mere existence can be the trigger for violence by the chunks that float at the top of the septic tank.
What could be the next step for those homeless after denial of food? Judging by the examples of history it might be caging them, forcing them into flight or even extermination. All these things have happened before. The progression comes in small steps. I hope someone is able to halt it.
Dreams are incredibly important. They bring hope. To paraphrase the wisdom of another comic, ‘Sandman’, Hell has no power if not for the existence of hope.
The ‘American dream’, in my case those awesome toys and Saturday television shows, were a naïve and juvenile form of hope, but they left their traces nonetheless. I am upset that those particular ghosts have finally been exorcised.
Among all the human rights that are stated in technical documentation, the one right that is missing is the right to be able to hope.

About The Author