Just a little word on the title before I get started. I am reading King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild, which is the story of how the King of Belgium, Leopold II, fooled the world. It is also the story of the birth of the international human rights movement.
Leopold garnered support for a free trade zone in central Africa, today the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). In fact, the king thirsted only for a colony of HIS OWN. The profits from ivory and rubber went straight into his pockets, not Belgium’s. It is estimated that over 50% of the population died during the Belgians time in The Congo through murder, torture, hunger and disease… roughly 10 million. Entire cultures, villages and families were destroyed, often in the most savage ways imaginable. The atrocities were hidden for years. The effects remain today.
I am mad at many things, but I am almost always agreeable externally. I am trying to change and teach myself to express justified anger in a way that is informed by facts, not rooted in emotion, and can lead to action.
Brussels is just a place. The king made many of his decisions regarding the Congo from there. These decisions permitted a holocaust to occur. I am doing much thinking lately about where I live and how I live and the effects my ordinary life has on people immediate to me and on the other side of the world. The world needed rubber. The Belgians (and other countries) supplied it. Transportation was made easier for people on the other side of the world and far removed from The Congo. Cars can now float over roads. People were massacred, tortured, raped, mutilated, imprisoned and dispersed in supplying this need.
I am not actually mad at Brussels or Belgians, in case the country decides to file suit. In fact, Ihave spent a decent part of my life turning my anger inward and supplying the public with a people pleasing attitude. I think this disposition might be partly related to being gay. I grew up in a house that emphasized shame and personal sin. I felt cut off from God so much so that I got into public service in part because I was good at it but also because subconsciously I wanted to save my soul. The more charitable acts, the less debt I owed.
I have always admired activists, reformers and organizers who mobilize people into collective action to change or stop oppression. Many of the pages of my blog will be devoted to expressing myself as I am, not who I think the world wants to see in hopes of evolving from a “good deed” oriented nice person to someone who is truly connected to the world and part of movements that alter the world into a more universally just place.
My next post will be a letter to a GLBTQ community leader who is a hypocrite and in many ways a predator.