This was the headline, one summer day last month. Do you remember? Where were you when you read it?
I was listening to some Canadians who came back from vacation in Dominican Republic talk about immigration and the need for countries to manage themselves appropriately. Factories used to store sugar cane, now they’re empty. Now it’s imported. Why’s that? Mystery.
Now also thinking about the last moments of life of a little Salvadoran girl clutching her father as they washed along a Texas riverbank and what that was like. Maybe she was crying? Did she die first, or was it her dad? How much of what they swallowed was dirt? She must have loved him judging by the way her arm is around his shirt.
Put that out of mind. Think of responses to debate team at the other table. Tell them about structural adjustment programs? Export economies? Neomercantilism? It’s not called “corruption” if we benefit, just progress. And so on.
No; not in the mood. Could, but not in the mood for it. Don’t want to talk reasons. No hot takes and no I-statements and no performative gestures and curated consciousness raising. No realistic assessments of plans and trade-offs and no ironic comparisons to historical facts and no optimism about human rights or grim hope for eking out a future free from calamity. No analogies or metaphors and no using a dead girl and her dad on a riverbank as a metonym for climate crisis and effect on diasporas. Not right now. Right now just want to interrupt and vomit blood over the table, or break open a black hole in the floor or turn the sky into razor blades. Anything to bring you back to the reality that this is a horror, and any attempt to make sense of it is an attempt to look away. Anything other than horror is a lie.
Don’t look away from it. Don’t feel better. Don’t act and justify and rationalize and debate and worry and resolve to do better or assign blame. Don’t think about the reputational effects of a maudlin blog post. Just think about trying to scream because your dad is dead in your arms and you can’t breathe because your lungs are full of dirt.