The Right to Decide

Keep walking, I want to show you something.

My house is still standing. Although for years now, it’s not my house anymore. The memory of the last time I crossed its threshold remains vague in my head.

This forest, which hugged me so many times as a child, it forces me to realize what have we lost. Not just you, or me; what we’ve all lost. And I’m not talking about houses; I’m talking about reason. We have lost our minds.

Not long ago someone asked me what I missed the most, from before the war. My mother’s mocha cake, I answered without even thinking it. She knew how much I hate a hard, dry biscuit and, although I was still a child, she drenched it well with brandy. But if I have to be really honest, and I think the current situation deserves it, I would say that it wasn’t that what I missed the most. Right now, what I miss the most, above all, is the power, the right to decide. To weigh each situation, to assess the options available and to choose which one is the best. That, the power to decide, is the most valuable thing this war has stolen from us. From all of us, including you.

Look, come closer. See that house down there? You do recognize it, right? That’s my home. Ok, it was. Because now it’s yours, right? Come, sit here. I built it myself. The house. Actually, my father did. I helped him. It is tilted slightly to the left. Have you notice it?

No, don’t. I know what you’re thinking: left, socialist, communist… There are not “ist” in my father story. Well, utopist perhaps, but that’s another story. My father was a builder, but everything he built, it was lopsided, not much, just a bit. He didn’t know any better. But now, nearly thirty years after his death, I can tell which houses he built. He is in them, in their imperfections. Ironic, isn’t it? You live within my father’s imperfections.

Photo by Karlos Wayne

You were born in the war, am I wrong? You’re what, fifteen? Sixteen years old? You must have grown up between guns and bombs, death and destruction. Hate. For you, there are only two kinds of people in the world, your people and the others. And I don’t blame you! Don’t get me wrong. You’ve never been given the chance to decide for yourself. When I was your age, there were also two kinds of people in the world for me, those who undermine me and those who I did undermine myself. But then you grow up, you live and mature and you do realize the wrongness. Yes, don’t look so surprised, at some point in your life you’ll realize that we are all the same people. There are not us or them, or our, or theirs. We are all yearning the same fortune, we are all dreaming the same impossible things and, at the end, we are all regretting not being who we wanted to be in the first place. But you are not like that. You are a lost case. And it is not your fault. Not really. This endless war…

For you it will always be “your people” and “the others.” If the war would end tomorrow, there would still be your people and the others, regardless who might win or lose. Or if no one wins or lose. Your children will continue hating, discriminating those “others”, and cheering “your people,” And the children of your children… The damage is already done to you, even if you don’t see it.

Because you don’t see it, do you?

All can you see is my weapon, pointing at you. I bet you haven’t heard a single word of what I just told you. Because you don’t care. All you care about is that I am not one of yours. And it doesn’t really matter that I am not one of the others either, does it? Not being one of your makes me an enemy right away.

Anyway.

Here we go. Please don’t take it personally. It really isn’t, believe me. I am just stripping from the face of the Earth, the seed of three generations of unfounded hatred. I wish there was another way. I wish there was another way to fix it. To weigh the situation, to assess the options available and to choose which option might be the best. But it is the war, the fucking war that took away the power to decide.