The Writings Of Señor Tao – The Expendability Of Human Life

I think a lot about the word tenacity. What it takes to survive in a world that is sometimes beautiful and sometimes hostile. I’m always amazed at the body’s willingness to continue, to keep going. The heart that keeps pumping, the lungs that keep breathing, the way the will to live can outsmart those other dark voices inside.

Ada Limón


Señor Tao (April 17, 1948 -)

I was born soon after World War II ended in 1948. I am from the Baby Boomer’s Generation. I lived through the Korean War, the War On Crime, the War On Drugs, the Cuban Missile Crises. It was a World War waiting to happen. An almost war. I missed being in the Vietnam War by the grace of a high lottery number, but I watched it every evening on the news. I witnessed from as close as I would hope to ever be the horrific results of war. Its deadly toll upon all life and its destruction of property via napalm. 

 Phan Thi Kim Phuc , burned with napalm at age 9

I witnessed the  immediate affects of Agent Orange upon vegetation and waterways and the long term affects upon human life. (My brother developed prostrate cancer contributed to agent orange as a result of his exposure.)

U.S. Army   Huey helicopter  spraying Agent Orange over agricultural land during the  Vietnam War  in its herbicidal warfare campaign.

Then the War on Terror. I followed the news everyday leading up the the invasion of Iraq in the First Iraq War, The Gulf War. I remember my total dismay when Colin Powell stood before the general assembly and told the “Big Lie” preceding the second invasion. I watched the protests around the world against the invasion, against the “Western Coalition.” I remember Bush’s proclamation,

My decisions are not influenced by world opinion.

If a president of a democracy presents this argument to his constituents, imagine the freedom Putin feels in justifying his own personal actions of greed and expansionism toward a world which opposes his actions in Ukraine. If Powell can lie to the world about weapons of mass destruction then it becomes acceptable for Putin to lie to the world about Nazism in Ukraine or Donald Trump to lie to the world about everything. (Close to a million lives have ended in the US from Covid-19 as a direct result of his mishandling of the outbreak in its initial stages.) 

I was here during the twenty year war in Afghanistan. The 9/11 lies used to justify a US invasion. No war can be justified when the deaths of innocent women, children and men are merely considered as “collateral damage.” They are the casualties of a war machine run by The Military Industrial Complex which Eisenhower warned the world about in 1961.  Someone starts a war forcing those who are only trying to survive and not become victims to unite for survival. The will to survive is one of human kind’s greatest strengths.

This week I dreamed I was one of the survivors crowded together in a bomb shelter in a theatre in Mariupol. There was fear in the eyes of the adults but the children were singing and hopeful before the first bomb hit and plaster, stone and wood begin to fall upon us. Smoke and flames surrounded us. Hidden in the screams of terror was an almost universal call, “I am not ready to go.” The same words I thought to myself and whoever might be listening the night of my first heart attack. No one wants to die except when there is no more hope. 

The Drama Theater in Mariupol, where hundreds were taking refuge, sustained heavy damage in a bombing on Wednesday, authorities said. CNN

“I am not ready to go.” I heard again, almost a chant as the second bomb struck. Despite all the wars occurring during my lifetime, too many to name, the national, international, civil and racial, the will to survive, to continue existing, to be a member of life is strongest when confronted directly with the possibility of its ending.  Many of the locals huddled together in the theatre’s shelter survived Putin’s bombs. Many more in Mariupol did not.

I’m always amazed at the body’s willingness to continue, to keep going. The heart that keeps pumping, the lungs that keep breathing, the way the will to live can outsmart those other dark voices inside.

I support the will, determination and tenacity of the Ukrainian people. “Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”



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