air swirling with pale poui, settling into carpets of blossoms. About
seven years ago, I wanted to do an entire piece on the poui. I wanted to
examine the journey of a single petal and watch it land.
then something happened that month. Five women were murdered in their
homes by their husbands in cases of domestic violence. I felt as if their
blood had tinged the trees pink. I couldn’t write about the poui
time our eyes are on teenagers who kill. These are times when you walk the
long way on the road or in the mall rather than face young boys and men.
Who are they? We don’t know. Some are 14, 16, 18 years of age and they
kill big men at point blank range or brutally mutilate and murder, even
you blame the mob who wants to lynch these kids? They want blood.
more sophisticated tell us they want these teenagers to stop blaming
“society” and take personal responsibility for their heinous acts. I
agree to the extent that nobody is above the law. Justice must be done.
phrase “personal responsibility” is relative, not universal. That’s
like the statement attributed to the executed French queen Marie
Antoinette telling starving people, “Let them eat cake.”
man who has everything, caring parents, no childhood abuse, an education,
a good job, a roof over his head needs to take personal responsibility for
abusing and killing his wife. He needs to be hauled before the court and
how can a teenager take “personal responsibility” for an absent
father, or one who abused and hit him on the head before he were three
do children become “responsible” after being neglected by their
mothers who have to work for pittance as housekeepers?
do teenagers take personal responsibility for an education system that
leaves them illiterate?
questions the law. But personal responsibility? It presupposes that you
have been taught right from wrong, that you have empathy and that you
didn’t grow up feeling invisible and disposable.
tell us people who kill, maim and abuse in cold blood most often have been
physically and mentally abused by an adult.
at the faces of the people who want to lynch the two teenaged perpetrators
in the killing of Sean Luke. They look like they want to hit and spit and
is ironic that the faces of the righteous who want revenge often resemble
the faces of criminals. They may be standing on separate sides of the
fence, but they all want blood. I can’t get over the irony that the
freedom fighters of so many countries—South Africa, Israel,
Ireland—who rail (rightly so) against oppression, injustice, the
bullying of big countries and business interests have the worst human
rights record when it comes to their women and children.
easier to blame an abstract government rather than look at ourselves. It
stops us from asking the question, our hands midair about to strike our
child, “Will this child strike someone else without mercy someday?”
is you and me. We weave it according to how we treat our wives, our
children, our employees. Now all that dying poui reminds me is that we
have destroyed so many children.