Behold The World Gently

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The dead children don’t affect me like they used to.

The images. The videos. They still disturb and horrify, but not like they did in the beginning. Not anywhere close.

And, honestly, I hate it. I hate that that part of me has been stolen.

As much as I hated having my heart kicked around all day and having nightmares all night, I’d rather have that than this decreased sensitivity.

People should not become desensitized to such horrors. People should not become accustomed to decapitated babies and small, mangled bodies. To corpses run over by tanks. To body parts carried in plastic bags by loved ones.

These things should jar you. They should rattle you to your core. But they don’t anymore. Not here.

I held onto it for as long as I could. It felt like a solemn duty, to hold on to that part of me that still screamed with an appropriate mixture of grief and outrage at the latest tiny shredded body. But desensitization sets in whether you want it to or not. That’s how they create soldiers, after all.

I hate that these pricks have amputated that part of me, and I hate that I know it will never grow back. I have been permanently disfigured inside, mutated by atrocities, all the way down here safe in the Melbourne suburbs.

And I hate that this is happening all around the world to everyone else who’s kept their gaze fixed on Gaza. All around the world humanity is being mutated. All around the world something sacred is being stolen from the hearts of good people. All around the world people are finding callouses where there used to be tenderness.

And I want my tenderness back, god damn it. I want my tenderness back.

Give me back the nightmares. Give me back the tears. Give me back the dry retching over the toilet, and the shaking under the blankets. Give me back the collapsing onto the couch and not moving for several hours until my system can recover from what my eyes just saw.

I’ll take it. I’ll take it all back again. Just give me back that soft, tender part of myself that has been withered to dust by a live-streamed genocide.

I will take good care of it. I will feed it good things. I’ll give it plenty of sunshine, cupping it delicately in my hands by the window. I will take it for walks, and let it rejoice at the children running and playing, with their parts all together and their insides on the inside.

Don’t leave me hardened and darkened like a soldier. Give me back that soft, sacred part of myself that weeps at the corpses of children, so I can behold the world gently again.

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