by Ray Jason
I am rowing home to my boat, which is anchored in a beautiful, isolated cove near Key West. Suddenly, the solitude and peacefulness is shattered by the sound of two military jets shrieking back towards the nearby airbase.
As I cover my ears and look scornfully towards them, a sport fishing boat comes blasting out of the mangroves with 500 horsepower ensnared in its outboard motors. I wonder to myself if the fish that they will catch in their $100,000 boat will taste any better than the one that I just speared from my little rowboat.
When they pass beside me and see me covering my ears, they holler over to me, “That’s the sound of freedom.” I nod noncommittally. For the remainder of the day my mind could not stop thinking about what I wish I could have said to them. If only we could have shared a beer and some grilled fish and some open-mindedness, I would have tried to give them a different perspective on the true essence of that sound.
In America, and in fact in most of the world, we do not realize how thoroughly we have been manipulated by what I call, The Malignant Authorities or TMA. These are the politicians, the religious leaders, the media owners, and the corporate tycoons who shape our way of looking at the world. This “sound of freedom” myth is a perfect example of how they exploit us. And even more sadly and tragically, it is a grim reminder of how we accept their deceptions without even questioning their truthfulness.
In the U.S. we have never been under siege. We have never known the wrath of outside invaders, whether they were on horseback, in tanks or in supersonic aircraft. Our towns have never been bombed, our children killed and our wives and sisters raped. But much of the world has experienced this. And in some places they have repeatedly suffered this grotesque horror down through the centuries.
When we hear the roar of a combat jet overhead, it is just an aircraft that is practicing for a mission far, far away. Many of us would look skyward and be proud of the young top gun pilot who is protecting our way of life. The fierce noise that it makes is merely a minor nuisance in our daily lives, and it presents no danger to us whatsoever. So most Americans tolerate it, because it is supposedly “the sound of freedom.”
But for a mother far, far away the sound of a jet means something entirely different – something insanely horrible and senseless. That evil supersonic dragon screeching in from the horizon could transform her beautiful daughter, full of life and laughter, into a pulp of bloody, burning flesh. It means that the putrid smell of her charred, dying child and the anguished sound of the little girl’s screams and whimpers as she yearns for the release of death, will remain with that mom for the rest of her tortured days.
Are those jets the “sound of freedom” for that mom? Is the horrific pestilence that they spew from the sky acceptable because they are “spreading democracy?” The great peace pilgrim Mahatma Gandhi answered those questions about a half a century ago when he wrote, “What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?”
To a mom with a murdered child in her arms it makes no difference. And it makes no sense. Should one ever kill innocents because some people believe that their political system is better than the political system of some other people? If you are inclined to answer “yes” to that question then I suggest that you reverse the situation. If The Malignant Authorities of some other country sent their jets into your skies to bomb you into adopting their political system would you find that acceptable? No, you would not. And yet you permit your own government to do just that!
But what is even worse is the fact that the true motivation for sending in the bombers probably had very little to do with spreading democracy and a whole lot to do with capturing territory or gaining control of some valuable natural resource. Somewhere, deep within that mourning mother, there is probably the realization that this whole nightmare is an accident of geography. If her family lived in a place that did not have oil flowing beneath the ground there would be no attack, there would be no mutilation, and there would be no everlasting yearning for her lost child.
Another pair of jets just screamed by, and this time I actually curse them as I sit in the cockpit of my boat filleting the fish that I caught for my dinner. I have been trying to climb inside the head of the tormented mother with her dead daughter in her arms, and imagine what she thinks of the pilot of that despicable plane.
Does she wonder how he could be smart enough to fly one of those complicated machines and yet too dumb to realize the true consequences of his actions? Does she question whether he has ever had to actually witness the severed bones, the spewing guts and the smoking hair of his victims? Does she believe that he is not a hero but a coward since he rains this murderous horror from the sky and yet is rarely in any danger of being shot down himself due to the superiority of his technology?
Does she suspect that he has been so warped by an adolescence spent in front of violent video games that he can no longer distinguish between actual carnage and electronic destruction? Does she cringe when she realizes that by spreading lifelong misery he is a hero in his homeland and is guaranteed a high-paying airline job when his military days are over?
Does she think any or all of these things? Or can she only think of the limp, little body in her arms, and her daughter’s wasted, exterminated future? When she hears the echo of that jet down the tormented decades of her life, will she hear the sound of freedom… or will she hear the sound of butchery?