It was a brisk September evening in 1983. Strolling down the street, she carried her sleeping baby in a cloth pouch that was somewhat like a backpack positioned to be at her front. The child was warm against her body and the warmth felt good as a buffer against the chill in the night air. Meanwhile all around her was sweeping heavy darkness punctuated by an occasional old streetlight that cut a small circle of brightness into the dusky scene.

There weren’t many lights on the street on which she was located. That was because it was a seedy part of Paris in a neighborhood that was very old and fairly run down. In fact, she could feel the age, she imagined, of the locale and thought of the many generations of people who had settled in the place where she now was walking. She was doing so to reach a Chinese restaurant that was a hole in the wall, but was famous all across Europe for its fine dumplings.

At the moment, nobody was on the street except for herself and the baby. So the only sounds were her own footsteps on the sidewalk pavement as she kept moving forward. Suddenly, though, she stopped to closely inspect a window display for a small closed store.

It had two purely white mannequins, a male and a female, sporting ghoulish, slightly scary makeup while dressed in black vinyl goth clothing. They both held large clunky chains in their stiff hands. She examined them and the sign in black paint that was scrawled on the storefront glass between her and the pair of expressionless dummies.

What a strange statement was put there. What could it possibly mean?

The words of the crudely scrawled message were “Kill, Kill, Watch, Watch.”

She then pondered the meaning of the words and the mannequins while speculating that maybe the owner of the goth store had an urge to kill so called normal people and hated the status quo. Perhaps instead it meant that we all have to bear witness to all the killings in the world. Who in the end could even definitively know the intended sense of the words except for the writer of the enigmatic saying, himself.

Then she decided to assign her own meaning to the words. They involved all of the wars and smaller conflicts that year after year have taken place by humans throughout time. If they were all seen, all of the battles that have ever taken place, it would be quite a view — one that could even make some people go mad.

Next she contemplated the amount of taxpayers’ hard earned money, blood and sacrifice went into war efforts each year. It certainly was a staggering, practically unbelievable amount.

In fact for many years before ever seeing the window sign in 1983 and every year thereafter up to the present, she thought about the huge amount of injury and murder in combat that were going on worldwide at any given moment. However, the majority of people around the world seemed to her to be apathetic and were perhaps even numbed by having witnessed so much slaughter during their lives. So accustomed to it, they didn’t pay attention much at all to the seemingly endless and senseless carnage always taking place. That is, they didn’t unless they, themselves, or others who they knew were maimed or dying in warfare.

It also seemed odd to her that most people in the USA liked parades that showed military might and didn’t seem to mind at all the fact that they paid taxes to support US incursions into other countries. Indeed, the amount of money spent in the US on past wars (i.e., for veterans and interest on the national debt created by past military expenditures), current wars and preparations for wars is a staggering 47% of the federal budget in 2021 or $1,644 billion. This information derives from the War Resisters League.

Oddly, much of the American population takes in the same stale message over and over that the military assaults and covert operations in foreign lands are carried out to bring freedom and liberty to others. At the same time, many hapless citizens in assaulted countries are bombed and shot to smithereens — children and adults alike.

For the most part, too, it appears that most Americans seem unfazed by the images of our soldiers coming home in coffins while the living warriors are missing limbs, parts of skulls and/or other body parts. The Americans who never went to war mostly then just go about their daily lives without much thought of their own individual culpability in warfare existant because they don’t speak out against US involvement in assorted overseas assaults. Simultaneously the majority of them dutifully pay their taxes that keep the war machine always primed and shooting forward.

They, also, watch all of the murder and destruction in remote other lands on tv news stations. Thereby they exemplify “Kill, Kill, Watch, Watch.”

Sally Dugman lives in MA, USA.


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