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 okay
when a crowd of people gathered around me
and I followed them to these machines
and we had pockets full of coins
and we put the coins into the machines
but as soon as the coins were in the machines
the people who had been dying earlier,
not the ones who I joined at the machines,
but the other 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,
and from the bombs.
Then, suddenly, the bombs slowed down again
and the people stopped dying and grew stronger
they grew stronger
and life was good
so of course this couldn’t be hell…
but 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
started to drop like flies
faster and faster
old women, old men, and babies
children, mothers, and fathers
they looked awful
and were dying in greater numbers than before
dying from famine and disease
faster now than from the bombs
but still, more and more bombs were falling
on more and more people
until I finally realized
that there were none of the other people left alive.
The bombs continued for a little while longer, for good measure
but the people were all dead
and in the new silence
the birds began to chirp again
The first group of people
the ones I followed
they were walking back towards me now
but none of them had any coins left
and I had no coins left
so we just wandered around
stepping over the rubble
and the dead bodies.
This went on and on and on,
walking around like this on autopilot
stepping over the dead,
looking for more coins to feed the machine
but there were no coins
and now we were hungry
but there was no food
because the landscape was decimated
and nothing would grow
in the wake of 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 and Syria
It was Iraq and Afghanistan
and Libya and Somalia
it was everywhere the other people live
the only difference was, in my dream
we could see what we were paying for
and we could see what was possible
if we stopped feeding the machine.
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.
So no, we don’t live in hell
we live in purgatory
but we create hell
for the other people.