May 19, 2013
Theater of Combat
Posted on Aug 31, 2011
The Defense has - condescendingly - portrayed Mr. Reeves as an animal. A goat and that is not fair. Mr. Reeves is a man, a smart young man. He may have been under-educated when he was inducted into the army, but he educated himself along the way. He learned.
He learned some Arabic. Leadership skills. Even moral virtue - loyalty - brotherhood - self-sacrifice. He availed himself of his opportunities and, troubled by his desire to kill, he - sought - help. And the logical conclusion of this is - unfortunately -
He knew what he was planning on doing - was wrong.
He knew it was wrong.
And he did it anyway. This crime deserves - it demands judgment.
And it is at this point that Nuremberg becomes instructive. Who were the judges then? Who was the jury?
They were the ones who said “no.” Not in casual conversation, but with the commitment of their lives. Not the ones who financed the war with their obedient taxes. Not the ones who have not said no to this insane useless violence. Who has the right to judge this man?
Anybody who stood in front of a recruiting center and said, “No.” “You can’t have them.” “Not if this is what you are going to do with them.” “This is not what we do with our young.”
If that’s who you are - judge. If not - don’t. Not even in the secrecy of your thoughts. You - no - We - We haven’t the right. How could we? We hired him. We paid his salary. We were his employers.
This is not - not - about the war. This is about a young girl.
The Defense wants to tell you who you are in this case, but you already know. You are the rule of law. You are a young girl’s last line of protection. What her family could not do - what a dress could not do - you can. The law is in your hands. Her final fate - is in your hands.
The choice is yours. Guilty. Or not? Consider your decision.
Acts of War: Iraq and Afghanistan in Seven Plays
By Karen Malpede (Editor); Michael Messina (Editor); Bob Shuman (Editor); Chris Hedges (Foreword by)
Northwestern University Press, 400 pages
REEVES stands for a long moment. Long enough for the audience to make a decision.
(The Chinese Restaurant. After hours. ELAINE and NHU sit together at a booth.)
NHU: He was the son of mighty king. Rich, powerful. The whole works. That kid was spoiled rotten.
(ELAINE and NHU laugh.)
NHU: But he had a secret.
ELAINE: What was that?
NHU: There was a little voice inside him. Like child pulling on your skirt. ‘This life, it said, it’s not for you. You gotta go. You gotta get out of this place,’ like the song says.
ELAINE: (Singing) “We gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do …”
NHU: That’s right. Yeah. (Continuing) The boy was very restless. Now his daddy wasn’t stupid. He knew something was wrong. So he sits and thinks. That boy needs air, adventure, fire in his belly. That’s all he needs. Yeah. So he gives him fastest horse in the kingdom and the boy rides off. But the kingdom was inside high wall, you know? So the new freedom of the boy was an illusion. Like all freedom.
ELAINE: Freedom is an illusion, Nhu? Hmm. That’s not what they taught us in school.
NHU: (She takes this in, goes on) So the boy rides off on the horse, and the first thing he sees is a very old man. Now you gotta remember that this boy was protected from everything. Every reality of life. And now he’s seeing old man for the first time. And he says to his servant. ‘What is wrong with that man?’ And the servant has to tell him. ‘Master, he’s just old. All of us end up like that.’ ‘What?’ says the boy. ‘Like that? … What kind of a world is this, that we all end up like that?’
ELAINE: I know exactly how he feels.
NHU: And he turns his horse around. And he rides—like the wind—back to the palace. And he locks himself in his room. He won’t come out. But next morning, off he goes again. And this time, there’s a young beggar with baby on her breast leaning against the palace wall. And the boy sees that she is so hungry she has become mad. How does he know this? That is a mystery.
ELAINE: (Completely involved) Huh …
NHU: The boy becomes sick to his stomach.
But the next morning, he is off again. And now, it is like he can’t stop, you know? But then the horse stops. It won’t move. Because there is dead young soldier lying in the road. His throat is slashed and his stomach is cut open and his guts are stuffed in his mouth. And his penis has been taken away as trophy. And his face has been eaten by worms and flies. He has no face left. ‘Who did this?’ cries the boy. ‘Your father’s army’, says the servant, ‘We’re at war.’ ‘War?’ the boy asks. ‘We’re always at war’, the servant says. ‘But war is glorious!’ the boy says. And the servant, he just shrug his shoulders.
(NHU stops. She looks at ELAINE, who is visibly disturbed by this last section of the story. There is a pause. ELAINE seems to recover, smiles encouragingly at NHU.)
ELAINE: Go on.
NHU: And the boy stops there. He doesn’t turn back. He feels angry. He feels betrayed. New feelings that make him very tired. He gets off his horse. He has to rest. He sits down against a tree. It’s a fig tree. The Bo-Tree. And he stays there, and he doesn’t move. He sits and sits and sits.
At first, he sees old man and beggar woman and soldier in front of his eyes. They won’t go away. And then, they are inside him, you understand? Inside his body. He is old, and hungry. He feels terrible pain caused by soldier’s torturers. He suffers. But he doesn’t move. He sits.
He sits for seven weeks and by fifth week, he is no longer separate from the earth or the tree. He is the earth. He is the tree. He is his breath.
And by the seventh week, he is the Buddha.
ELAINE: Does he go home?
NHU: He never goes home. Home?! He never gets up! If he gets up, he will step on an insect or blade of grass. He sits.
So, that’s why the Buddha is so peaceful.
ELAINE: Danny’s coming home. From Iraq. On leave. It’s only three weeks, but that’s all you get. So, we’re celebrating.
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