I had a dream last night
and in the dream, I woke up
and I didn’t know where I was.
There was nothing leading up to it,
I just woke up in a strange place.
Before too long,
based on what was happening
I figured that I was in hell,
or someplace like it.
I must have died, somehow,
and now I was in hell.
It was absolutely awful.
There were people dying all around me
from famine and disease.
Bombs were dropping on them
and they were too weak to run.
Then, all of a sudden
the bombs stopped falling
and the people seemed to be recovering.
There was food, and medicine.
Some people even started playing music.
Miraculously, things were turning around.
Maybe I was wrong, maybe this wasn’t hell.
I was beginning to think
that things were going to be ok
when a crowd of people gathered around me
and I followed them
and there were slot machines
and we had pockets full of coins
and we put the coins into the slot machines
and as soon as the coins were in the machines
the people who had been dying earlier,
the other folks,
not the ones who I joined at the slot machines,
the dying people started to die again.
Death began to appear back on their faces
and then the bombs started to fall on them again.
More and more people died from famine and disease,
or from the bombs.
Then, suddenly, the bombs slowed down again
and the people stopped dying and grew stronger
and life was good
and of course this couldn’t be hell
and then the other crowd reappeared
and I followed them, on autopilot,
and we put more coins into the machines
and then the other group of people came back
and immediately they were dropping like flies
faster and faster
old women and old men,
and of course, fathers
they looked awful
and were dying in greater numbers than before
and then the bombs started to fall on them.
More and more bombs
falling on more and more people
and then I realized that there was no one left.
The bombs continued for a little while longer, for good measure
but the people were all dead.
The other people were walking back towards me now
but none of us had any coins left
we just wandered around
stepping over the rubble
and the dead bodies.
This went on
walking around like this on autopilot
stepping over the dead,
looking for more coins
to feed the machine.
Then I woke up.
My heart was racing
and I was covered in sweat.
I thought about my dream
and I realized that it wasn’t hell at all.
It was Yemen.
It was Syria.
It was Iraq.
It was Afghanistan.
It was Libya.
The only difference was,
we could see
what we were paying for
and we could see
what was possible
if we stopped paying.
No, that wasn’t hell.
Hell is out of sight and out of mind.
Hell is where we call the dead “collateral damage”.
Hell is full of the ‘other’ people.
Hell is ‘over there’.
Do we live in hell?
No, we live in purgatory
and we create hell
for the other people
but it doesn’t have to be this way