— Mommy, when am I gonna get rid of these scars?
The young boy who made that question to his mother is named Héctor. He's one of the 76 kids who was able to be rescued from the fire that claimed the lives of 49 little children, 5 years ago, in the ABC daycare center in Hermosillo, Sonora. Like most of those survivors, Héctor will have to deal with the consequences of that tragedy for the remainder of his life —which explains why his mother would choose to be honest in an attempt to 'toughen him up' & improve his self-confidence, instead of giving him false hopes.
And as for the parents who lost a son or a daughter on that fateful day of June 5th, 2009, they keep clamoring for justice before an unsympathetic government that wishes to sweep the matter under the rug; a government that insists on backing the conclusion of the official 'investigation' —that the fire on the adjacent warehouse run by the local government of Sonora, was caused by a short circuit in a cooler— whereas there's every reason to suspect the fire was deliberately started, and went out of control while someone was burning sensitive government documents.
The loss of those 49 lives was a tragedy. The silence protecting the culprits is the real crime.
5 years ago I wrote the post The ABC's of Impunity; 5 years have passed, and many of the scars brought up by the fire & the silent complicity will never be fully healed.
But some scars do heal in time; and even horrific events such as these can bring up the best aspects of the human history.
The above image shows little Héctor, the boy I mentioned at the beginning of this post; with him is Julio César 'El Negro', the young man who saved him from the flames. 5 years ago, 'El Negro' and his friends were near the day care, getting high; when someone rushed to them alerting them of the fire, he didn't hesitate & forced his way into the burning building, found Héctor & other children & put them to safety.
After that literal trial by fire, 'El Negro' decided to change his ways & rehabilitate from his drug addiction. In saving the life of Héctor, he also managed to save his own.
This post started as a public & personal denouncement of the impunity surrounding the ABC daycare fire; but it has morphed into a homage to recognize the bravery of all those anonymous heroes who rose to the occasion, and risked their own lives in trying to save the lives of the children.
"There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends," reads the Bible. I dare say an even greater love, is when you do it for strangers.
The winds of change are blowing at Madrid's Plaza del Sol and its waving the old Republican flags, which had been kept in the closet for three quarters of a century, ever since generalísimo Franco won the Civil war.
Now the man Franco put in power after he stepped down, Don Juan Carlos de Borbón, is abdicating as king of Spain in favor of his son Felipe. For 40 years he reigned, and during most of that time he enjoyed the support of his people; but all that started to change in 2012... because of an elephant.
When the Spanish people, who were going through their worst economic crisis in modern history, looked at the pictures of their sovereign playing the role of big white hunter on a Safari trip paid with money from the public coffers, their love for Don Juan Carlos quickly started to evaporate.
Perhaps there's some weird connection between this historic event & George Orwell's famous short story 'Shooting an Elephant,' which tells the story of an anonymous police officer stationed in Burma, who is led by circumstances beyond his control to kill an unruly pachyderm at the pressing insistence of the angry natives.
To come all that way, rifle in hand, with two thousand people marching at my heels, and then to trail feebly away, having done nothing – no, that was impossible. The crowd would laugh at me. And my whole life, every white man's life in the East, was one long struggle not to be laughed at.
Well, Don Juan Carlos seems to have been pressed to abdicate by circumstances beyond his control, all right. And in doing so, perhaps he's fired the killing shot to the very concept of Monarchy itself in the XXIst century; ironic, considering how many pundits are right in pointing out that most parliamentary monarchies nowadays enjoy more democratic forms of government, than so-called 'democratic' nations —Russia, anyone?
But, just like that poor old elephant in Orwell's story endured in agony for a long time, I suppose Don Felipe might still have the chance to put on the silly crown & play the role of king for a few more years —something that will surely raise the hopes of a few poor fellows out there...
On my latest contribution for the Intrepid blog, I give my opinion on what the Fortean community should focus on, in order to try to move the discussion forward, past the tiresome quarrels with the skeptoids & debunkers.
Happy Día de Muertos!
Inspired by the latest PLUS extension in episode 10.14 of Mysterious Universe...
Watch Jon Stewart interview Nobel Peace Prize nominee Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old girl who was targeted for execution by the Taliban in Pakistan, and have your faith in the future of Mankind completely restored.
Because nothing scares the crap out of fear-mongerers & criminals than a child with a book on its hands. The day we devote more resources into libraries & schools than into weapons & military bases, is the day we'll finally grow out of our species' adolescence.
WARNING: NSFDE (Not Safe For Dry Eyes)
That's what my birth certificate & the calendar say, anyway.
Do I look 40? Well, the gray hairs on my goatee are becoming more widespread, but still look a bit out of place with the remnants of the acne which appeared on my puberty, and apparently became so infatuated with my face that it decided never to leave.
Do I feel 40? That's a tricky question. Physically I'm not in the greatest of fitness, but neither are scores of men & women younger than me. That's not age, that's sedentarism.
I haven't yet suffered of a heart attack *knocks on wood* but I on the other hand already suffer from a form of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis, so rare it's like winning the lottery but backwards, because it sucks.
How about mentally? That's a big resounding 'No.' It's probably not something to brag about, because it might just be a result of my deep immaturity --Wot, you tellin' me I can't watch Spongebob Squarepants no more? GTFO!
I remember how back in the 90's discussing the so-called Peter Pan Complex was all the rage on the radio & TV talk shows. Now perhaps it's not that interesting because EVERYBODY is suffering it. There's a reason why the biggest-grossing movies made in Hollywood are based on comics, and the video-game industry is now even bigger than Hollywood.
Mid-life crisis in the 80's was about buying a sports convertible & hair inserts. Perhaps mid-life crisis in 2013 is now resolved with a Spartan armor replica & a pair of Oculus Rift.
The thing is, it doesn't feel like I'm about to experience a mid-life crisis. Oh sure, it's inevitable to look back & make an assessment of one's accomplishments, and there's definitely a lot of things I would have liked to have achieved by now. Professionally I'm nowhere near as where I'd like to have been when I was in my early 30's. Financially… let's just change the subject.
Which brings us to the final item on the checklist: My emotional state.
If I make an honest evaluation of my general mood, I'm forced to conclude that I feel happier than how I felt 10 years ago.
Back in those days things didn't look too good for me, and for that a little anecdote is in order: Back in my mid-twenties, I had somehow managed to land a job in one of the biggest architectural firms in Mexico --maybe even the world (Srsly)-- and I felt like Leo on Titanic, the king of the world starting a promising career with the right foot. If I played my cards right, the sky was the limit!
I lasted approximately 7 months on that job.
During the whole time I felt a continuous sense of disappointment over the fact that my suggestions & ideas were not only unnoticed --they were unwelcome. "We already have 2 dreamers in this studio," they once told me, referring to the founder of the firm & his son, who would eventually take over when the time came. "Your job is to bring their dreams into fruition."
That. Pissed. Me. Off.
Furthermore, I was expected to perform the most menial of tasks with a big smile on my face, to show how grateful I was that I was given the opportunity to apply my college diploma, from one of the top schools in my country… by faxing letters & using the copy machine.
So I was eventually shown the door. It wasn't the first time, you know. Already I knew I had a problem with authority & a very strong temper which forced me not to stay quiet, when I was given an order I considered nonsensical or just plain stupid. On my first job after college I quit & walked out of a pending assignment in protest. On my second job I was fired, thus beginning a routine in which I either walked out of a job or was kicked out. A routine that still persisted after I was fired from what I considered to have been my ticket to stardom, here at the world-famous architecture firm.
My one chance in life to show what I was capable of, and I blew it. I'm sure you all can imagine what that does to your self-esteem.
Later in life I realized that depression ran deep in my family, with both my father & my oldest sister suffering from it, but back then I didn't know that. My sister offered me to take me to see a psychiatrist, who after a looong session with me prescribed some anti-depressants. But since I didn't have a medical insurance, the fact that I couldn't afford to buy the anti-depressants made me more depressed! So I decided to stop taking them (a rather lucky outcome in retrospect of what I now know of these type of medication.)
In sum, the black dog was continually biting me on the shins. I would often spend the weekends doing nothing except sleeping, for sleep was the only thing disconnecting me from my dreadful existence. I would roll on the bed & observe the gradual attenuation of light passing through my window curtains, wondering about what hour it was, thought not really caring.
As I look back, now that I'm known as the Red Pill Junkie, I feel compelled to plagiarize Morpheus & conclude I was feeling the pain from that splinter on my head which torments so many of us in the Fortean community. But the splinter wasn't driving me mad; it was driving me suicidal.
During those days a good week was one in which I would only think about doing something stupid to myself once or twice, whereas a bad day was one in which the thoughts kept buzzing around my head like blow flies --"I'm a loser" "I'm a failure" "I've wasted my life" "I let down my parents" "The world would be better off without me."
That's when, due to a chain of events I can only describe as serendipitous, I found my way to The Grail. And then for reasons I still can't explain, Greg invited me to be part of the TDG news admins --more unbelievable still is that I accepted, despite my instinctual aversion to failure.
One of the best decisions I've made.
So now that you know the story, I hope you don't deem it too melodramatic when I claim that becoming a Grailer probably saved my life. It helped me realize there was a splinter in my head and the means to extract it & toss it to the garbage can once & for all.
It saved my life because it gave it a purpose.
During the last 8 years that I've been part of this community, I've seen my circle of online comrades grow exponentially. It also opened for me opportunities I wouldn't have dreamed of 10 years ago: the chance to be a producer of content instead of a mere consumer. One of the great joys I've received lately is whenever I'm interacting on other forums & someone lets me know how much they enjoyed the column I write for Mysterious Universe; or the people who approached me last year during Paradigm Symposium and asked ME for an autograph(!). The fact that there's someone on the other side of the world who think it's worth their while to spend 10 or 15 minutes of their day, reading something I wrote is... well, beyond my writing abilities to describe.
Yes, the black dog is still there, roaming at my door step. Yes, my bank account is still laughably lean & I still need to obey nonsensical orders in order to pay the bills.
But my short tenure as the Red Pill Junkie has given me a sense of balance. A knowledge that there will always be things in our life aiming to take us down, but only if we let them. As the old Zen saying goes: Pain is inevitable, but Suffering is optional.
Meanwhile I know there's still oodles of things to explore on the web, and scores of people to discuss them with. The journey has become the destination, and for the first time in my life I can say that I'm content, but not as much as I know I'll be in the future.
So the calendar says I'm 40 years old. Meh.
What matters to me is that I'm an 8-year-old Gralien.
(Mexico city, October 4th 2013)
PS: Personal jetpacks, flying cars & cities on the Moon, all these I can very well live without. But where Science has totally failed me is this: The fact that now when I'm supposed to worry about such things, THIS is still the standard procedure for a prostate exam --Srsly XXIst century?
Where the hell is Elon Musk when you bloody need him?!!
For my latest installment at the Intrepid Blog, I pay tribute to the UFOlogical influences of my favorite music band in this --and any other-- planet: Café Tacuba.
For my latest contribution in the Intrepid blog, I decided to make a little homage to Philip Coppens, by making another homage to a little French cartoon I used to watch as a kid, which helped setting me on my path to become a red pill junkie --Giorgio Tsoukalos' hairdo ain't got nothing on the Maestro's beard ;)