Friday, December 03, 2004

Here's a link I urge you all to follow. It goes to a video by a Japanese Hip Hop/Rapper called King Giddra. The song's about 9/11 and its aftermath. Don't worry, there are subtitles to the lyrics.

It's only in recent months that I've been able to actually think about 9/11 clearly and not without being immediately hijacked by a numbness that set in for me around that event. I remember I was in grad school when it happened, and in one of my writing courses the professor was asking us to write responses to the event after it happened and I refused to because I didn't feel like I had any response. I was speechless in a literal sense. Whenever I tried to write anything about 9/11, there was always a blank page, which matched my emotions towards the event. I think most Americans reacted to it with what I think of as socially learned responses, and I'm always trying to avoid the social emotional response we've been taught to use for various situations. I want my emotions to be what I feel, I want them to be my emotions, not what my culture has engrained in me as "the way you should act or behave in response to such and such an event". For me, 9/11 wasn't something I could get up in arms about, it wasn't something that made me hate the cultures of the Middle East, it wasn't something I could cry about or scream about or have any reaction to at all. I was just stunned, and it's really only been recently that I feel I can engage with it, and its horrible aftermath with the Bush administration leading us into darker, scarier waters every day. One of the things that has bothered me all along, I guess, is how so many Americans think of 9/11 as America's tragedy because it happened on American soil. But really 9/11 was something so huge that it's the whole world's tragedy. Sure, it hits America hard, but we can't shut out the responses from the rest of the world towards it because it happened in America. The effects of 9/11 everyone feels, all nations are touched by it, ravaged by it in some cases. And we need to listen to what they have to say about it (and about the Bush administration)too.

America, I fear, is returning to isolationism in a particularly weird form. We're closing our ears to what the rest of the world is trying to tell us. We've forgotten how to listen. With a president like Bush who emphasizes war and physical aggression as a way of dealing with the world, this isn't surprising. It was evident in all of the debates this past election that he was unable to hear what people were trying to tell him. He doesn't know how to listen to people. He just does what he wants. I don't want my America to become a culture modeled on that sort of characteristic. It's sad and shameful.

The Japanese have it written into their constitution to not ever make war again. This video's response to 9/11 and Bush's handling of it has wisdom from a culture that has learned its lesson about what war as a response creates: death, death, and more death. It's a wasteful way of dealing with problems. It only sets up more problems for the future. Nothing is ever resolved through war, not really. I hope one day we have an America that understands this, and if any amendment is made to our constitution, it will be an amendment like the Japanese have to never make war again.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, it's not like the Japanese wrote that provision into their constitution voluntarily--it was forced on them in the surrender at the end of World War II. It's a great concept, but it wasn't a proactive embrace of peace,

I know what you mean about 9/11 reactions, though. I still have strong emotional reactions from that day, and I remember very clearly the need to safeguard those reactions against the push from everyone else to categorize them in a particular way.


11:50 AM  
Blogger Christopher Barzak said...

Yeah, I agree about safegarding those feelings for that reason. It's difficult when everyone places expectations on how others should feel and how they should demonstrate that feeling.

And then with the enforced provision in the constitutition, I know how it came about. I guessing what I'm trying to say is that it's a good thing, and that I wasn't talking about how it came about, just the idea, the thing itself.

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not that it isn't well meaning, it's just that the only thing that makes it practical is that Japan is protected by another military power.


3:14 PM  
Blogger Christopher Barzak said...

Understood, but I want to live in is a world where defense isn't so common. I know it's horribly idealistic and naive, but I'm not horribly naive about my ideals. And I do think those ideals can be realized. It's only a matter of getting everyone else in the world to believe that too. But when we live in a worldview where the majority of people find war an inevitable fact of life, then war is an inevitable fact of life. If only we could believe that war is rare and unneccessary, then it might actually be rare and we might tend to find other ways to resolve issues.

4:11 PM  
Blogger elad said...

thanks for posting that video, Chris. I think it was fascinating. the song was catchy, too. the way they used a common phrase from the time, "remember the day. never forget," was particularly powerful. and the words by the second rapper were particularly interesting, the way he echoes what we feel, as Americans.

it's funny, most of america's (mainstream) hip-hop is so occupied with fancy cars and girls, this song throws all that bullshit at the window. makes me believe hip-hop is not a lost genre.

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I linked to it here at work on a Saturday afternoon and all the high school kids who come in to do the shelving are VERY impressed at how hip I am.

6:01 PM  
Blogger Christopher Barzak said...

Haha, awesome. I really liked it too. There's an article recently about how many Japanese hip hop/rap artists feel the music should political, as it was originally sociopolitical in the African American culture where the genre started. So many are trying to "keep it real". hehe

7:22 PM  

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