Ghost Town

Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

Walking the streets of this ghost town, watching ghost people laugh and play and indulge like Gaza isn’t burning, like children aren’t starving, like people aren’t dying slowly trapped under rubble next to the corpses of their loved ones, like IDF troops aren’t merrily picking off civilians with drones and snipers while children get their limbs amputated without anaesthetic, with the full support of this ghost civilization and its ghost leaders.

This ghost town full of ghost cars, ghost buses, ghost trains, ghost pubs, ghost concerts, ghost theme parks, ghost cinemas, ghost festivals, ghost laughter, ghost feasting, ghost shopping, all going on just the same as it was before all this started. Little children running around with flesh on their bones and their organs inside their bodies like they’re supposed to be, supervised by ghost parents with heads full of social clout and gossip.

Last month a man set himself on fire before the Israeli embassy and screamed “FREE PALESTINE” as he burned. He was not a ghost. He was flesh-and-blood real. He saw it. He responded to it. He treated this nightmare like the thing that it is.

We don’t do that in this ghost town. We stare at screens and shovel snacks and booze into the gaping void within ourselves and flail our attention around looking for anything that will keep us from an even momentary encounter with the real. We do not look at Gaza. We look at everything except Gaza.

So we keep the charade going. Frantically keeping the gears of this ghost town turning like hamsters on a running wheel, running faster and faster because we can feel the wet mouth of authenticity nipping at our heels. It’s like a giant theater improv game we’re all playing together, where the whole instruction is to keep the scene in a constant state of frenetic motion.

Because we all know what will happen if we are still, on some level. We all know that stillness allows the smoke to clear and the mud to settle in the water, and from there it’s only a matter of time before we find ourselves in the tyrannical grip of clarity. And then it will all bubble up. The lies. The phoniness. The discontentment. The feelings. Shame. Guilt. Truth. Gaza.

But there’s only so long you can run from yourself. There’s only so far you can flee before you get exhausted and fall down and find yourself staring up at the sky you’ve been living under your whole life. This fraudulent ghost town can’t keep up this charade forever. None of this is sustainable. At some point and in some way, truth inevitably comes crashing in.

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