Things are not what they seem

Feb 21, 2024
Vintage typewriter with a short message; 2024

We are homo dramatis, the species that tells stories. Today more and more of us are rejecting America and Israel’s stories and are searching for a better script. That is a good thing because History is calling us to be actors, not spectators, in the drama playing out in Gaza.

There is a revealing moment in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings when Gandalf wakes King Théoden of Rohan from the evil emperor Saruman’s spell. The king’s mental health is instantly restored, as is his vision: he sees that his closest advisor, Gríma, has kept his mind poisoned and led him to abide with evil. The fight for true justice ensues. We live, I believe, in such a moment today. More and more of us are exorcising ourselves from the spells cast by generations of Pentagon and Zionist propagandists. It’s a tale as old as Sophocles.

Israel and America have two immense advantages when it comes to the War on Palestine: violence and storytelling. Nobody has done either better. We live in a world shaped not just by their bombs and bullets but by what their powerful narratives have led us collectively to believe. The Rape of Gaza may be a historic Reversal of Fortune story for the West – and the Palestinians.

Western drama, of course, goes back to Aeschylus and Sophocles. Remember King Oedipus – so confident he knew the score and that his script showed he was destined for glory … only to discover he had unknowingly killed his father and fucked his mother. The white populations of the West are at this same moment now.

The USA and its allies have been able to steal, rape and murder their way across the planet and somehow by the alchemy of storytelling simultaneously lead the mentally captive populations of the West to believe that these Hannibal Lecters, these mafiosi, are Sensitive New Age Guys and Gals.

St Paul’s epiphany (Greek: to reveal) on the Road to Damascus was such a moment. Blinded by the light of Truth, he suddenly saw that his service to a white imperialist regime, his role as a persecutor of the followers of the Palestinian Christ would see him burn in Hell if he did not amend his ways.

King Lear was another: finally seeing, after blindness, that he himself had misruled and had thrown his lot in with evil power players who had persecuted the innocents. King Oedipus was so appalled by what he himself had done he ripped his own eyes out.

I’m not suggesting Joe Biden or Bibi Netanyahu would have the moral integrity to do the same – but millions of people in the Western world are doing something akin: seeing things as if through new eyes. The price for this transplant is paid in the blood and shredded bodies of fathers, mothers and infants in Gaza and the West Bank. Only the most hardened racist, the most determinedly blind, can now be insensitive to the indescribable suffering of the Palestinian people.

In Greek poetics this is Anagnorisis – the moment of discovery, when the protagonist and the audience suddenly find that things are not what they seem. It is the moment of a critical discovery, a hidden truth revealed, the dramatic moment of a shift from ignorance to knowledge, generating what the Greeks called peripeteia – the turning point, which propels the action in a new direction.

I’m not a Marxist but I think Karl was right when he said the dominant ideas in society are those of the ruling class. Whether it was the society of the Popes and Kings in Catholic Europe, the Politburo in Soviet Europe or the American imperialists today; they hold power not just through the barrel of a gun or the point of a sword but through cultural mind control, cultural hegemony. When enough of us cease to believe their stories – whether “they” be the Bourbon kings, Ceaușescus, Netanyahus or Bidens of this world – we get to look at a new dawn.

I believe if enough people in Western countries, having opened their eyes, can raise their voices and play their part as actors in this drama, we can convert the dark night of the Palestinian people into resurrection. That would be a happy ending.

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