Category Archives: Children

A Touch of Home

[a short story –  by Sha’Tara

“Beautiful day, huh?” The slim brunette in the sleeveless black pantsuit doesn’t even look at Steven as she pours the coffee into the ornate, obviously home-made mug and hands it to him, taking his “toonie”[*] and two quarters for payment. He waves the change and walks to the window, to the only small table left unoccupied. He sips the hot dark roast and scans through his paper.

As many experts at reading the once bulky commercial dailies will tell you, there’s a certain art to this, one I’ve never bothered learning. You don’t actually read news or stories. You go through it page by page taking mental notes of relevant items to get into later. You skip the fashion, cars and trucks, and entertainment or sports sections if these are not your thing. Later, during your next break or back at home, you attack the pieces you hope will hold your interest long enough to provide a “shift” or a time of forgetting.

“Mind if I sit here?” A tall man in a grey suit points at the only seat left in the entire Java Hut coffee house.

“Not at all.” Steven points to the empty rattan chair. “I don’t own the place although at the prices they charge here I should have shares in it by now.”

The tall man sits down, puts his paper cup down. “If you don’t like these prices why don’t you go to Tim Horton’s down the street?”

“And do line-ups? I value my time. Beside I like to be able to taste coffee, not just hot water and sugar.”

“Ah, the very reason I frequent this establishment. Interesting mug you have there. Your own, obviously?”

“You’re either a lawyer or an investigator, sir!”

The grey suit laughs. “I do a bit of both actually; lawyering and sleuthing that is. I have a traffic case at 11:00 today as a matter of fact. Can’t really discuss it, you understand. But that mug is fascinating. It has a story: I can almost hear it speak.”

“A touch of home, sir, uh, ah?”

“Sorry. Al. My name is Albert Delisle, attorney at law and at large.” He laughs again and extends a strong tanned hand, impeccably manicured. Steven extends his and the handshake is firm, almost too eager; the grip of a professional golfer.

Steven continues, “I’ve had this mug for twelve years now as of yesterday. My daughter Katherine made it in a pottery class she was taking as an extra-curricular activity in her last year of school…” Steven stops talking and holds the fading white odd-shaped mug with both hands, hands of a man old before his time. Tears begin to flow from his eyes and the lawyer touches his arm.

“Sorry to stir up painful memories my friend, uh… no, don’t tell me your name. You must be Steven Baillie.”

Steven appears shaken and startled by the mention of his name from someone he’s never met. “That’s right. That’s my name. How did you know…?”

The lawyer stops him. “Sorry to startle you as well as upset you. If you tell me the story of this mug I’ll explain how I know your name.”

“Ah, yes. Twelve years ago my wife Jean went to pick up our daughter Susan at school to take her shopping for a grad dress. On their way home after shopping a drunk driver ploughed into the mini van. His vehicle, an old Ford 4×4 was totaled but he was thrown clear and didn’t get a scratch. My wife, they said, died on impact. Susan lived for one month of pure agony afterwards but the burns were too deep… The only thing that survived from the wreck and the inferno of the mini van was this mug. She was bringing it home for me after cleaning out her locker.”

“I’m so terribly sorry sir,” says the lawyer. “The driver of the other vehicle, his name was Gerry Felton?”

“Yes. That was his name. But how can you know this, or remember these details after such a long time?”

“Research. The man I’m defending today is that same driver. He’s charged with running over an old woman crossing the street in the dark, killing her instantly. He was driving while under the influence of alcohol and a mixture of prescription drugs. These details are in your paper.”

“I know. That’s an article I’ve been reading every day for twelve years.”

[Note: a “toonie” is a Canadian $2 coin]

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Conversation at the Bus Stop

[short story dialogue  by Sha’Tara]

“Wish you’d go weird out on someone else. I’d really like to be left alone now and I think that’s my bus coming.”

“I like to think about things, then I like to talk about things with someone else. You seemed like a proper someone else. That’s not your bus Rita. That bus is going down Main street to the mall, not Hazel down to townhouse row. Two more buses, then yours.”

“I didn’t tell you where I live. I didn’t even tell you my name. What’s going on here?”

“What’s going on is, I’m bored and when I’m bored I start looking around and playing little games. Your name and address are on your iPhone, Rita. If you don’t want all your data mined from your phone, entertain me. Talk to me.”

“My name isn’t Rita, so you got that wrong!”

“Agreed, it’s Margarita, and you positively hate that name. Everybody knows you as Rita.”

“So what are you, some sort of super-spy? Homeland Security detail? What am I supposed to be then, a Mexican spy?”

“Yeah, you’re spying on our Tequila stocks to make sure there are no worms in them.”

“I thought there were supposed to be worms in Tequila?”

“No. That’s Mescal, a cheap, low quality drink made from infested plants. If your Tequila has worms in it, it isn’t Tequila but Mescal. I guess you’re not a Mexican spy.”

“Great deduction, Sherlock.”

“Do you watch people Rita? Observe their antics? Wonder about their lives, what’s with them, what’s not. Dreams? Happiness quotient?”

“Yeah, I observe three people: me, myself and I. I try to make sure we get along most of the time.”

“Where two’s company, three’s a crowd. Are you a crowd, Rita?”

“OK, so you know my name. Now I think I’ve earned the right to know yours.”

“I’m agent 666. I’m from the bureau – you know the one.”

“Oh sure, totally. Aren’t you guys, and I didn’t know there were more than one, supposed to go around in a black robe wearing a hoodie and carrying a sickle or something?”

“I’m disappointed in you, Rita. Scythe, not sickle. The black robe and hoodie, that’s just drama stuff. I like wearing comfortable stuff and not standing out so much. You see, with all the violence in your society these days you’d be seeing us everywhere, all the time. After a while the novelty wears off and nobody cares. Remember the Black Death?”

“Say what?”

“The great plague, or whatever you want to call it. We were everywhere then but it was a time of super, super, superstition, so people thought we were hallucinations, or claimed we were, otherwise the Church would have had them burned at the stake, if you get my meaning.”

“Why should I remember something like that?”

“Well, it’s called past lives remembrances. Also it’s history.”

“Never cared much for that. I mean, who cares, right? People die all the time. Wars, mass shootings, Aids, plagues, what’s that other word for mass murder when your neighbours y’all got along with suddenly show up at your door in the middle of the night with a machete and start hacking at you and your family, that sort of stuff?”

“Genocide?”

“Yeah, I suppose.

“Yeah, that sort of stuff. Well we’re always around then too but not everyone can actually see us. It’s more like they can sense us and it takes the will to live from them. Remember the millions exterminated by the Nazis during the second world war?”

“No, but yeah, heard about that. Shit happens, right?”

“It’s a bit more than that Rita. What I meant to say was, these millions, if they’d realized how many they were they could have fought back and taken over all the camps and work sites. But they didn’t see themselves as a force to be reckoned with because they feared their bully masters, see? They “knew” they were going to die, so they just let it happen. Happens everywhen and everywhere, even today. Less and less will to fight to live, more a desire to run, to escape, to find safety and security but of course there is none, nowhere, if you don’t make it for yourself. But the fight’s gone out of most people. They feel entitled to life and as a result they just die or trust their leaders which is even worse than dying.”

“So, like, you’re trying to take the will to live from me then? And by the way, how come I can see you?”

“You don’t know much, do you Rita? Not much curiosity and not much of an attention span either I see. You can see me because I’m visible, not because you’re any kind of special. I want you to see me, so you see me.”

“Why? Am I dying?”

“Everybody’s dying, Rita, don’t you know that by now? Everything that’s born is born to die and the moment you are born you start dying. We’re the collectors and I daresay you keep us rather busy.”

“Gross!”

“Oh, an opinion! You should be careful with that, it could give you a heart attack, or at least a serious headache. Then you’d blame me and insist that you’re dying. Do you like living, Rita? Do you like your life?

“Why do I sense that’s a trick question?”

“Because it is?”

“I serve meals in a fast food outlet. How exciting is that?”

“So, you don’t like your life, then?”

“No I don’t. I’d do just about anything to get off this treadmill.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah, seriously, what do you think?”

“I can make that happen.”

“Oh yeah? How?”

“Come on Rita, you can’t be that dense. How do you think?”

“What? You mean, like, I just die?”

“Well that’s a matter of speaking. You wouldn’t actually die, Rita, you’re already dead. You died some years ago.”

“I did? How so? I feel quite alive right now.”

“Remember that time when a friend was going to Tanzania to work as a volunteer nurse in an orphanage and she asked you to go with her? To be her assistant? Remember toying with the idea, only all you could think about was how it would affect you? Did you even think about those kids you would have been able to help?”

“Well sure but…”

“Whoah, you can’t lie to me Rita; maybe to yourself, but not to me. It was all about you and because of that you didn’t go. That’s when you died Rita. You had been summoned and you did not answer the call. That’s what happens to people. That’s why they die. That’s why we’re so busy all the time.

“Come along now, don’t worry about your body, they’ll get rid of it. I need to extract your soul now.”

“Will that hurt?”

“No, you can’t feel a thing any longer.”

Nothing is more deceptive than an obvious fact” – Arthur Conan Doyle – Sherlock Holmes

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

This morning there’s a burning in my heart to express something, but it wasn’t until I received the following in my mail that I realized where I was walking once again.

Quote: “Despair is the state in which anxiety and restlessness are immanent to existence. Nobody in despair suffers from “problems”, but from his own inner torment and fire. It’s a pity that nothing can be solved in this world. Yet there never was and there never will be anyone who would commit suicide for this reason. So much for the power that intellectual anxiety has over the total anxiety of our being! That is why I prefer the dramatic life, consumed by inner fires and tortured by destiny, to the intellectual, caught up in abstractions which do not engage the essence of our subjectivity. I despise the absence of risks, madness and passion in abstract thinking. How fertile live, passionate thinking is! Lyricism feeds it like blood pumped into the heart! ― Emil M. Cioran, On the Heights of Despair – 1933)

Some of us exist as bog fires. We burn, winter and summer and we are impossible to extinguish. Why? Because no one understands the source of our fire.

In fact, I don’t understand it either, it just is. Perhaps I should use the term “burning bush” because the more we burn, the more we have to burn. Nothing is consumed. No entropy here, quite the opposite. The world and its desires may well pass away, over and over, but this struggling thing I call “me” remains, dies, returns, again and again.

Why? If ‘nothing can be solved in this world’ (see above quote) why return? In those nebulous times in-between endless strings of lives, do we forget? Do we re-arrive here all innocent, a tabula rasa, having no remembrances of having walked through vales of tears and mountains of glory, in bare feet or harsh armour? Of hunger and surfeit? Of enslavement and mastery?

Passing through, surviving (to what end?) and perhaps fixing a few little things, I know I will not solve, nor resolve any of this world’s major and obvious problems. For those solutions I must defer to greater aspects of life than me. When I was young and my fire burned on the surface I would not have accepted this truth but now that I have gone underground and the burning is steady and controlled, I realize it is how it should be. I am not the conscience of this world, or any world or reality. Suffice that I am my own and that I have the power within myself, finally, to understand how to control that tiny part of all that is.

As Victor Frankl wrote: “Who would bring light must endure burning” Passion is burning. Some time back, feeling my burning, I wrote the following. Perhaps another in similar pain will receive validation; take comfort from these words, they are not empty utterances:

Where Hope fails Despair will Serve
[a poem by ~burning woman~ ]
There, I’ve shown you:
No hope, no hope left
Not for you, not for them.
Your children are dying
Don’t you see? Are you blind?
I’ve taken away every strand
Of your pitifully weak hope
And what can you do now
But admit my power,
And bow to the inevitable, to me?

She looks upon her foe as he gloats over her,
She turns and stares ahead
At a land stretching before her tired eyes
Dark, menacing, parched, dead.
She hears the incomprehensible,
The language of the damned, tortured screams
Rise from places she cannot name.

She looks down at the children
Cowering at her bloody feet
Whimpering, hungry, frightened,
Shivering in their bits of rags;
Her own clothes in no better shape.
She feels the hollowness
Of her own body and tired mind
Dragging her down to yield,
To sleep and to forget.

This must be the end she reasons once again,
And I’ve been misled, lied to, to take this way
Try to lead the children and find a way of escape:
I cannot go further; I have nothing left.

Her enemy laughs again.
You’re done then, hey?
Say yes, give up, give up!

“No!” she says turning to face him,
Her cracked lips bleeding:
This isn’t our end, this is our beginning.
Hope there may no longer be;
No comfort may be waiting
When we walk from here but know this:
Where hope fails, as it often must,
There is always despair.

Rousing the children
She leads them into the darkness:
We shall not be his slaves
She tells them,
Let death take us then if that’s how it must be.

But it wasn’t death that waited there,
It was freedom earned
From courage to say “No,”
Taking that last resolute step
Where he could never follow.

Despair is the end of all power usage and as rawgod said to me commenting on another post, “Non-use of power IS the ultimate use of power. To have it, and refuse to use it, that is powerful.”  I am just beginning to understand what that means, and the personal costs associated with it.

Another Sunrise Drowns

[a poem by ~burning woman~ ]

I remember long ago,
I was watching the sun set
I remember it was from an island
but I don’t remember which,
or when,
or where. I remember I was alone.

I say to myself: does it matter now?
No, I answer, it does not.

The earth has already turned,
oh so many times for me
each time a little slower,
each time taking a little longer
and I know now, as I didn’t know then
there must come a last time.

I sit at a little round table,
overlooking the sea, the see…
the table rocks a bit,
as does the chair,
they were made who knows where,
not for this kind of terrain.

I am alone, looking at the sea
looking at what I can see,
sluggish waves so casually
make love to a tired sandy beach.
My glasses are on the table
beside the empty wine bottle;
tonight, particularly tonight
my thoughts are far from here.

Once, I remember, I had a future;
it was filled with colour
and the laughter of children
mixed with mine, my smile,
they said, shamed the rising sun;
dreams and hopes chased each other
across so many landscapes
and seascapes where tiny white boats
sailed away into the sunrise
questing in hope that springs eternal.

Every sunrise must turn into a sunset,
is that not so?
This evening, slow and cool in purple
fills with rasping dreams of romance
that never was; dried longings
parched Autumn leaves falling, sails
no wind ever came around to fill:
I see just another sunrise helplessly
come to drown into the endless sea.

Reblog: The Blue Pill Presidency

I just had to reblog this post from CounterPunch (more links pasted at bottom of this post) This is what I call writing… wow! One little tid-bit: ” We now identify with our captors – at least the ones playing the ‘good capitalist’ role, rather than recognizing that all the players in this absurdist spectacle of ‘Curtains for the Anthropocene’ are complicit profiteers of impending planetary collapse.”

July 19, 2018

The Blue Pill Presidency

by Jennifer Matsui

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Who would have predicted that in 2018, the FBI, the CIA, John McCain, Jeff Bezos, and now the monarchy would be feted as the vanguard of ‘The Resistance’ by the American ‘left’? Suddenly Trump’s presidency makes sense. To paraphrase a leaked Deep Squid memo from the deep swamps of Deep Space: “When they are forced to eat shit sandwiches around the clock, eventually deep fried vampire squid will appear delectable by comparison. Mission almost accomplished. Mwaah ha ha . . . !”

Our cephalopod overlords know us better than we do. After all, they created and control the devices that keep us under surveillance, and the algorithms that accurately predict at what point we will press ‘accept’ on the terms and conditions of a Trumpless, Squid-led world order that builds walls, empowers banks, oligarchs and polluters, while privatizing and militarizing everything that isn’t nailed down. We now identify with our captors – at least the ones playing the ‘good capitalist’ role, rather than recognizing that all the players in this absurdist spectacle of ‘Curtains for the Anthropocene’ are complicit profiteers of impending planetary collapse.

Fighting fascism is a noble and worthy pursuit. Unfortunately, we haven’t quite figured out how to do it. Flaming pitchforks or pussy hats? Collective struggle or individual belief in the power of existing institutions to rein in their own power? (Cue evil laugh track here) Allowing oligarchs, tech billionaires, war criminals, secret police agencies and monarchs to lead the charge is like treating a worsening chronic ailment with skin burrowing predator aliens from a deep space wormhole. Once you let ’em in, they will feast on your organs and prey on everything in their path. Don’t believe it? Just ask your local polar bear, honey bee or independent bookstore owner.

Notice how the Left establishment is suddenly enraged that a ‘classless’ dotard Bingo hall barker doesn’t know how to curtsy all proper-like on his tax-funded tour of Downton Abbey. Fancy that! Ten million slated to die of disease and starvation in Yemen? Whatever . . .

Before we all break out into a Beyonce led chorus of “God Save the Queen – She’s a Stellar Human Being – She Smote the Tangerine – Let’s Put Her Name on a War Ship’s Submarine”, here’s a little reminder: The old lady might look like she’s luring yet another loose cannon lunatic into a Paris tunnel with her super monarch powers, but QE2 would sooner submit to a golden Trump shower before she would relinquish her role in the feudalism that keeps her in jewels and corgis. The oaf in office is just another necessary evil the class system’s crypt keeper has to contend with for the survival of her undead progeny.

Post-Trump, we will never question the tentacled Master Race again, or doubt their wisdom. Eternal warfare and worsening poverty will be viewed through a ‘blue pill’ haze of relief. The nightmare ends. We are none the wiser, having taken the option to forget and move on. An escape back into reality, as the metaphorical ‘red pill’ suggests, would require a brutal confrontation with truth and the permanent discomfiture that comes with knowledge. Instead, we will once again swallow the same pill that transformed George W. Bush a beloved and unfairly maligned statesmen a few short years after his presidency unleashed those still burning hellfires across much of the earth. Her Majesty will once again be properly genuflected to by a visiting American head of state with better hair plugs.

FLOTUS will be decommissioned, disassembled, and sent back to the offshore factory that makes state-of-the-art Living Dolls for moneyed incels. With any luck, she will be rebooted as a life sized Barbie companion for a lonely 12-year girl old in Dubai. Worst case scenario: A shipping invoice mishap will have her sent to Barron on his 30th birthday.

The ceaseless bombing and starvation will continue under a different Twitter feed, and POTUS 46, after proving he can clip on his own tie before launching a nuclear strike on Iran will be embraced by woke folk, arms dealers, spooks and crowned heads of states alike.

After being hogtied and injected with near-lethal doses of absurdity, we find ourselves collectively hallucinating a tinpot tycoon blowing up Twitter one day, a giant orange clown in a diaper floating over London the next. Carefully sowed confusion will give way to an equally orchestrated acceptance of the war-as-usual status quo when the blue pill kicks in. A return to normal will be a much welcome steel-toed boot to the face.

More articles by:Jennifer Matsui

Jennifer Matsui is a writer living in Tokyo.

CounterPunch

It’s a Wonderful World (isn’t it?)

“I see trees of green – Red roses too – I see em bloom – For me and for you
And I think to myself…. What a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue – Clouds of white – Bright blessed days – Dark sacred nights
And I think to myself….. What a wonderful world.

The colors of a rainbow – So pretty – In the sky – Are also on the faces – Of people – Going by – I see friends shaking hands – Sayin – How do you do – They’re really sayin – I love you.

I hear babies cry – I watch them grow – They’ll learn much more – Than I’ll never know
And I think to myself – What a wonderful world…”

… and I think to myself… what have you been snorting, or sniffing?

I just finished my day’s work, and scanning through a hundred emails, you know, looking for  whatever might stir my imagination. Well, imagine my surprise to find messages about Donald Trump, anthropological climate change, Canada sending “training” troops to Iraq; Venezuela on the verge of being invaded by the US for daring to choose a national path rather than one dictated by Washington… then stuff on Brexit and more trade wars. All in all, it’s a Wonderful World, isn’t it?

“There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in” – yeah, heard that one a time or two. And if that’s the case, we’re about to see a lot of light coming through in the coming years.

I’m relaxing with a glass of white wine and some munchies, watching the movie, “Last Love”. The complaint about that movie was, it’s too dragged out; too slow, but I don’t find it so. Does everything have to happen in a panic? Do we always have to be speeding down that road to arrive nowhere? What’s the rush?

I’m thinking, not that it’s such a wonderful world, but that we, as a species, collectively and subconsciously, are facing a mass extinction event and perhaps, also subconsciously, because of one, huge, unavoidable and massive collective sense of guilt, just want to get it over with. Maybe we don’t want to see our grand children, and great grand children, die in horrible circumstances, in conditions that never need to have come about had we chosen not to listen to demagogues of bullshit; had we chosen not to feed our Earthian hubris, greed, sense of entitlement, opportunism, bigotry, and the standard stance I’d label as rank stupidity. So, instead of doing something really “real” to change the direction this society is tumbling in, let’s just take that fast lane to nowhere so as not to have time to think about real and serious alternatives.

It should come as no surprise if I wrote here that having a nice house, a hot tub, a barbecue, is really more important to most people than the future of their progeny. “Après moi, le déluge!” To hell with the future, eat drink and be merry for tomorrow, we die.

I’ve been observing the people who talk a good game about climate change and other possibly catastrophic developments for the planet, and guess what? Sure people talk a good game but how many seriously change their lifestyle, their expectations, to show how legitimate their concerns are? How many change the way they think about a corrupt and dying system? What I see is people desperate to hang on to the bit of pretend stability this bloody system is giving them.

How would one honestly answer those charges? An important question because ultimately, you realize, it won’t be the Trumps of this world who will make the real difference when it comes crashing down, it will be the, let’s see what could one call them, that silent uncaring majority of sheeple, of unwashed masses, of deplorables, the 99% who insist on blaming “the rich” and “the elites” for the sad state of the planet while going on emulating them in every possible little ugly way.

Let me reiterate this: if blame is to be attached to one group of people for the sad state of this world, let it be put on the shoulders of those who deserve it: all, except the leaders, elites, rich, bosses, rulers or whatever. They don’t matter; they don’t make the final decisions; they aren’t the ones condemning your grand children to poverty, famine and early death from wars and a collapsing ecosystem. They don’t fight the wars, remember? You do! They don’t even make shit and they don’t consume it, you do. They make laws and don’t live by them, you do. Pathetic, isn’t it? 99% of a population of intelligent sentience lets itself be destroyed by an ignorant, subhuman one percentile clique. Indeed, how pathetic is that?

“About here, she thought, dabbling her fingers in the water, a ship had sunk, and she murmured, dreamily, half asleep, how we perished, each alone. — Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse.”

 

 

The following is copied from a page on CounterPunch (Copyright © CounterPunch
All rights reserved. counterpunch@counterpunch.org

After the “victory” of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and the “settlement” of the civil war in El Salvador, and due to other pressing situations, our support group here in Chilliwack, B.C., Canada, called “The Central America Friendship Committee” was disbanded with a huge sigh of relief. Little did we know that the whole “settlement” thing was, as usual, a two-faced negotiation on the part of Washington and the CIA. Unless they are clearly beaten, as in Vietnam, it doesn’t end, it escalates. Nothing was “settled” and things are not only continuing, but getting worse. As you read the following, if you read the following, note the names of the American presidents who presided over the massacres, tortures and killings of children in Central America. Then in the “killing fields” of refugee seekers in the deserts north of the Mexican border. Then take a few moments to ponder why “Nut’n’Yahoo’s” Zionists can slaughter Palestinian children with such impunity. Washington has always been, remains, and will continue to be the face of racism and genocide worldwide until it is destroyed, or it collapses from its own internal corruption. Those who still believe there is a fix are sadly deluded or they haven’t taken a serious look at the latest presidential face stamped on the latest genocides.

Sha’Tara, July 10, 2018
__________________________________________________________________________________________
July 10, 2018

The Discovery of Central American Suffering

by Nick Alexandrov

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U.S. pundits and politicians just discovered, it seems, that Washington’s decisions harm Central American families. For the New York Times, “separating families…is something new and malicious,” reflecting Trump’s “heartlessness” and violating “fundamental American values.” “This, apparently, is how you turn off the idea of America,” Alex Wagner (The Atlantic) added. The Los Angeles Times thinks “the administration’s cold-hearted approach to enforcement has crossed the line into abject inhumanity,” departing– so we’re to believe– from past practice.

These are half-accurate charges: Trump’s policy is malicious, heartless, cold-hearted. But it isn’t new. Both in Central America and along its Mexican border, Washington has helped rip apart families for decades, forcing children to endure a world without their parents, mothers to cope with their children’s sickening ends. Abject inhumanity, in other words, is a U.S. foreign policy hallmark.

Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras– review their histories. You’ll be crushed by evidence revealing which values shape Washington’s conduct, which norms govern its behavior in a region where it enjoys immense influence. And you’ll begin to understand why many had to flee these countries. Start with Guatemala. Ríos Montt, the dictator the U.S. funded, armed, and encouraged, oversaw the Mayan genocide there. In one episode, on April 3, 1982, the Guatemalan army overran the village of Chel, slaughtering its residents and orphaning Pedro Pacheco Bop, whose great-grandfather, parents, and five siblings (aged two to 14) were all murdered, their blood draining into the Chel River where the troops hurled the dead. Tomas Chávez Brito was two years old when the army fell upon his village, Sajsibán, seven months later, torching his home with his mother, sisters, and other family members inside. In the mountains, where Tomas hid for the following year eating plants to survive, one can only imagine how the idea of orphanhood, his new reality, settled in his mind. Margarita Rivera Ceto de Guzmán’s family separation was quicker. Soldiers knifed her in the stomach, killing her unborn child.

Egla Martínez Salazar, addressing this genocide, explains that assaults on Maya households conveyed “the message that Mayas did not live in ‘real’ families, but rather in ‘living arrangements’ that constituted breeding spaces for ‘international communist indoctrination.’” Erasing these spaces required “the mass murder of children,” plus “the forced transfer of surviving Maya children to military and paramilitary families,” tactics Salvadoran forces also adopted in the 1980s. Apart from killing most of the 75,000 slain there from 1980-1992– the stretch when Carter, Reagan, and Bush I funneled $6 billion into the country– “soldiers [also] abducted children in what an international court says was a ‘systematic pattern of forced disappearances.’”

Similar violence-patterns afflicted Nicaragua and Honduras. The Contras flaunted their family-destroying talents in the former, as when some 1,000 of them, on April 3, 1984, assaulted the village of Waslala. A father there, desperate to save his wife and children, sheltered with them in a ditch. The Contras found him, hauled him out. He was “tortured by having his fingertips and then his right hand cut off, and then killed with bayonets,” and then decapitated, Reed Brody recounts. As a final gesture to their mission’s purity, the Contras, into the dead man’s back, cut intersecting gashes– the shape of the cross. Brody tells another story: in “El Achote a band of contras dragged an agrarian reform worker from his home, and in front of his wife, 11 month old son, and three year old son, cut him into pieces with their bayonets. The man’s wife was then shot, but she lived to watch them behead her 11 month old baby.”

It was Battalion 316 that targeted Honduran families. The Baltimore Sun reported that the unit, “trained and supported by the Central Intelligence Agency,” “kidnapped, tortured and killed” hundreds in the 1980s. One example: Nelson Mackay Chavarría “was 37 years old and the father of five” when the Battalion found him. When searchers later discovered his corpse, “his hands and feet were tied with rope” and “black liquid spilled from his mouth”– criolina, “rubbed on cattle to kill ticks and mites.”

In more recent decades, the U.S. government has forged the Mexican border into a family-wrecking zone. President Clinton’s Operation Gatekeeper, for instance, “only made it harder for people to cross the border at relatively safe places and forced them to cross in more dangerous places, such as the Arizona desert,” writes Carolina Bank Muñoz. She stresses that “the policy broke up families, as few families were willing to take such risks by crossing a dangerous border together.” Maggie Morgan and Deborah Anker, citing ACLU work, note that “the risk of dying while crossing in Arizona was 17 times greater in 2009 than only a decade earlier”– and that “the mortality rate almost doubled” from 2009-2012, on Obama’s watch, “with children constituting roughly 10 per cent of fatalities each year.” Todd Miller estimates these “Southwest ‘killing fields’” have taken some 21,000 lives since the early 1990s.

There’s no question Trump’s migrant policies warrant outrage. But his are only the latest from Washington rattling– if not terminating– Central American lives. If we delude ourselves, if we choose to believe his actions depart from some moral norm, we risk satisfaction with superficial policy shifts. A deeper overhaul is needed to ensure Central American suffering ceases.

More articles by:Nick Alexandrov

Nick Alexandrov lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  He can be reached at: nicholas.alexandrov@gmail.com