For All Points-Of-The-View.
Five Minutes to Ugly
La Vonda R. Staples
Whether you worship God, Satan or no deity whatsoever there is one thing which is a truism regarding human nature. And that thing is rationality. Or rationalism. It may even be realism or plain old logic. I believe that two people can always sit down and negotiate a point of agreement. The only thing which interrupts negotiation is power. Power does not always recognize external logic or need. Power only recognizes power. This is simple but then again, isn’t that always the best and surest route through any equation?
I’m full of sadness over the execution of Muammar Gadhafi. I’m also full of sadness over Miss Eunice and Charlie James. All three in possession of a type of power and all three without the good sense God gave shit. See, you’re supposed to know or at least have the ability to be made to know when your sun is setting. Gadhafi had lead a nation before he was 30 years old and during a forty year reign he could look out over millions of people and know that their lives were in his two, pitiful, human hands. The same is true of Eunice and Charlie. How many times did each one step into a bar and have nearly every person alternately greet them with desire or envy? That’s the most seductive power. The power of youth and attraction. We are led to believe or get drunk on the belief that it is a thing of always. It isn’t. I’ve been cute for a long time but I’ve also been rational for a long time and I can tell you the absolute truth on this subject. It takes longer and longer for me to become presentable. It takes longer and longer to recover from a night of free stuff – none of which is usable under any situation except the social. I know that the power I have – pretty power – means nothing in ten years, twenty years, when only the vestiges of my attraction remains. Just like anyone else I’ll have to review my glorious past in the frames of photographs (frozen images of what I once was). Miss Eunice and Mr. Charlie, both of them, never got the benefit of my grandmother’s wit: “chile, pick one and stick to it.” I heard. I obeyed. No one has to tell me that the five minutes have begun. I’ve picked one.
Muammar’s five minutes more than likely came when an African president came to see him offering asylum. Offering a chance for him to keep his millions. Offering a chance for him to keep his family intact. Muammar didn’t listen and now all of his money and his children are refugees to banks and nations. His refusal to hear the ticking led to the end of his son’s life. He could have saved everything but drunk with forty years of power he had lost all reason. Maybe, I like to think, that after the African president left him, Muammar laughed it off. One minute past. Maybe he talked to his sons. Two minutes past. Maybe he kissed his wives. Three minutes past. Maybe he surveyed all that he would continue to hold. Four minutes past. And then he continued to give orders to fight the rebels. Five minutes past and his life was at an end. The real ugly would begin.
Ugly isn’t an adjective which denotes a lack of physical attraction. Ugly is not the healed burn. It is not the scars of a warrior. It isn’t even a broken heart. Ugly is a sight which bestializes man. Ugly is a state lacking all beauty. There is beauty in the healed skin of a person who has experienced a burn. It is the mark of one who has been honed, a human sword, in the pursuit of survival. And your scars, internal and external, only mean that you have been through some things and yet you live another minute, hour, day, year. Ugly is not a scar or a defect of birth. Ugly is a group of people who pile into a meat locker to take cheap camera photos of an aged corpse, sans shirt, shoes, and covering for the head. Ugly is when we use power where there is no ability to answer in kind. Muammar let those five minutes pass and let himself, his son, and his country be set upon by the ugly. Libya has no defense for the coming power, greater than any it can imagine, which will relentlessly relieve it of its wealth. Why else would a rebel army be given guns, tanks, and missiles? Power rarely engages in altruism.
Muammar’s body, bereft of power and spirit, spent four days on this earth. The same way that the once beautiful woman and once handsome man spends their last moments (really years) – alone and walking soundless rooms. There is a price to be paid for ignoring that final call through darkness and that hand extended through the mist of pride, vanity and ego. The price is a type of death or absolute death. Muammar, Eunice and Charlie all rest within the Earth and this is where they would have rested anyway. But if the situation had gone different. If the three of them and all of us had given respect to those five minutes between when goodness comes to call and when the scales are being weighed between keeping a hand on power and going forward to the next phase of life – what would they have given to the universe?
Muammar could have bounced more grandchildren. Miss Eunice could have been the hand which guided her (would-be) spouse into the winter of life, and Charlie could have used his position to help some mother’s son. All of that and more are possibilities.
They’re gone. We’re here. And our task within our circles of power is to respect that space where there is an opportunity for beauty and the likelihood of ugly. One minute. Two minutes. Three….