Monday, April 27, 2009

the politics of death

the may street newz is on the streetz, and apparently some of the vendors are taking some slack about the cover photo. the theme of this month's issue is 'harm reduction,' because it's a year since the fixed site needle exchange was closed. the photo is courtesy of reuters. i have access to those because of our membership in the international street newspaper association. i could probably have gone downtown, in any major city of the world and got a more horrifying photo to suit the month's theme. harm reduction. connected to addiction. connected to poverty, hopelessness, and death.

the title of the paper is 'street newz.' it's not the 'feel-good newz,' or the 'pretend this shit isn't really happening' newz. it's the 'street' newz. the cover price on the paper is 50 cents or by donation. it's a newspaper from the streets, about the streets, for the street community. that others buy it is wonderful, and that's what keeps us alive, but ultimately the street newz is about telling the truth, sharing the reality, of street life in victoria bc canada. the street newz is keeping it real.

apparently some residents of this fair garden city, primarily oldsters from what i've heard, are not happy seeing the word 'death' on the cover of a newspaper. and they're right. 'death' isn't the word that should be on the front page of the newspaper ... the word should actually read 'MURDER.'

one interesting thing about the street community is their intimate understanding of the word 'death.' they lose family and friends on a regular basis. i don't know the actual causes of death because the statistics are not easily accessible, even the beloved reverend al of our place doesn't want to share the information he receives about the street dead. i'd wager a bet that many die from absolutely unnecessary poverty related causes such as colds and flus, infection resulting from dental abscesses, the long term consequences of malnutrition, and the more obvious hepatitis c and hiv. the may street newz focusses on the realities of hep c and aids. it's not a happy story. it's the friggin' street newz. it's real. the street community deals with this shit every single day. they are systematically ignored, abused, and harassed. people don't know the truth of their reality. maybe, if they knew, they'd actually demand some systemic changes. but they don't know. and apparently some of them don't want to know. and so nothing changes. the street community are murdered, systematically, knowingly, willfully, and without notice, by an economic system and a political structure that is corrupt beyond words.

denial is a powerful force. and i continue to be baffled by those who worship at its shrine.

we live in a society where people spend untold bazillions of dollars having their bodies reconstructed in an attempt to defy, deter, or deny death. many of them believe that this is it, that their consciousness ceases to exist when their physical body quits functioning. so they throw everything they've got into clinging to this life, rather than living and learning and preparing for whatever life, on whatever planet, might be available to them next time around.

we live in a society where people adorn themselves with the image of a dead man on a cross. many worship that image, forgetting that there were any other humans, all of them also 'god's children,' on the planet while jesus was alive, or that jesus had a life as a healer and teacher and revolutionary who did not like the roman, capitalist, invaders who murdered him. they worship his murder, and his resurrection (reincarnation?), rather than looking objectively, historically, at his life.

we live in a society where living, fully conscious beings are tortured and slaughtered and served up at every meal. when i was discussing the kerfuffle around the front page image, one friend suggested that maybe people didn't want to have that image on their kitchen table as they served up breakfast and sat down to read the paper. i thought about this, as i was cooking my own dinner (lightly sauteed leeks, joined by tempeh, chopped chard and kale ends, carrots, delicately spiced and garnished with living sprouts - all organic, all locally sourced). how is it that people would be put off by the word 'death' on a newspaper as they sat down to their breakfast, which likely consists of chicken abortions and dead pieces of pig skin, served up with a cup of third world servile oppression?

the mysteries of this world continue to baffle me.

and as long as i'm the editor of the street newz, prepare to bear witness to the truth. or buy a different newspaper.