And yet time passes (always passes, never ceases to pass, is passing right now, while you and I waste time in this useless parenthesis) and the news that used to generate fear and a unique kind of sadness, disconsolate and impotent, are losing strength. After a few days, even the fear that once hitched a ride on the apocalyptic sentiment of the environmental movements disappeared. It won’t be this time that our generation will see an atomic mushroom – and that seems to reassure people beyond the morally acceptable.
Worse: sometimes, by a process that will be studied by scientists at this moment busy discussing the use of masks, the news that comes from the icy battlefront in Eastern Europe serves as food for cynicism relativist of People Who Are Always Right. “Did a hundred people really die? Can you confirm? Could it be that they were not only ?”. Or: “None of this is happening. It’s all neo-Nazi globalist war propaganda.”
Another day, amid to the discussions about fertilizers and the many nuances that make the party of relativists on the right and left, I heard the fateful argument that is neither warmongering nor pacifist, quite the contrary: in Brazil many more people die than that and nobody says anything. Which is an intellectually poor way of saying that our private war is more important because it takes place in our backyard and that we should act like concerned bad samaritans. with only the misfortunes that wear green and yellow.
And so the images follow one another. War becomes routine. One hundred dead yesterday; twenty today; five hundred tomorrow – until someone loses count or just gives up. The image of the old man who already survived Stalin and the fall of the USSR and who now stoically sweeps the shards of glass from the shattered window only moves even sentimental chroniclers.
In Lviv, after an attack that killed dozens of soldiers, a Mass was held in honor of those fallen in combat. I watched videos and saw pictures of the ceremony. Reproduced at the hyperspeed of social networks and squeezed between an ad for a moisturizer specially designed for obese black-skinned transgender people and another for a car that reduces their emissions and, therefore, serves as a safe-conduct to the sky of ecochatos, video and image are stripped of their transcendental force.
I want to scream that inside that box of wood there is a human being torn apart by another human being. A young man, perhaps already the father of a family, who had idiotic dreams like all young people dream: watching the latest Marvel production, going viral on social media with a crude video on TikTok, having girlfriends and never, under any circumstances, age. I wanted to scream that his tormentor might be a young man who shares the same dreams and values. I wanted to shout that for every young person killed there are mothers, fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, friends and even disaffected people who die a little.
I want, I want, I will quote the poem by WH Auden that perfectly translates what it means to lose a person to those who love him. It’s as if life had to be lived by inertia and as if every second of simple happiness was an affront to those who are no longer here to enjoy them:
Erase the stars: none of them works anymore.
644743824 Guard the moon. Fallen, the sun does not rise.22081522Remove each ocean and sweep the forest.
For everything else will end badly from now on*.
But I suspect that no one will listen. After all, the threat of nuclear war is practically ruled out. Germans are warm in their homes heated by Russian gas. In the United States, there are men winning women’s swimming competitions. Have you seen how much a Bitcoin is worth? And most importantly: today there is elimination in Big Brother Brazil.
Nelson Ascher’s translation is great, but nothing compares to the strength of the original English verses: The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,/ Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,/ Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;/ For nothing now can ever come to any good.