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Thunder Pie | Pretend The Fire Is Rain

Is genocide just another human construct? And most of all: Does it even matter?

“The planet is fine. The people are fucked.”
— George Carlin

Around dusk, I drink wine around my fire pit while the genocides unfold. It’s not like I want people to die in their apartment buildings or anything. I know they have been huddled there a while now. I would push the DO NOT KILL button if there was one/ and someone in charge asked me to pick which button to hit. I can’t make sense of it. A few months back it was kids at a rave huddled in the scrub brush, shaking like leaves, terrified of boogie men emerging from the tree lines. People getting stomped, man. People getting their brains shellac’d all over the ground, all over the cool tile floors or the dark basement of bombed-out hospitals. People being gassed in the chambers where they thought they were hitting the communal showers. People screaming in the streets, people horrified to the point of desperation. People chucking rocks through store fronts in the name of ephemeral peace. People kneeling on the neck of the wish that has never come true.

No part of this world has ever been all that good. No part of this life has ever been just or decent.

Every tranquil meadow has blood at the roots.

Every mini-market pit stop is kinda pissing in the well.

Every song we stream is highway robbery.

Every eyebrow we raise is a killing machine.

Every cave drawing is a motherfucking dogwhistle.

There is a choice we make when it comes to righteousness. We either believe we are good or we believe we know better. Humanity, by it’s very definition, is contradictory in a way.

A quick Googling tells me that “Humanity is the human race, which includes everyone on Earth. It’s also a word for the qualities that make us human, such as the ability to love and have compassion, be creative, and not be a robot or alien.”

So two things at once. It’s each of us as a part of a collective: all the people alive and the story the dead have written before us. Not a team, mind you, but a collective, I’d say. I think that gets confusing for a lot of folks/ this idea that we are all somehow in this together and that the only reason we aren’t a well-oiled team is because ‘those assholes over there don’t get it.’ You will be hard-pressed to show me the scientific data (or even the murky mythology) that indicates a time or a place when humanity was a team.

Hell, truth is, humanity actually means the opposite of something unifying. I mean, beyond the fact that we all have to eat and drink and piss and shit and that a lot of us need to fuck or we get mental, when or where or how has humanity ever, ever, ever given us even the slightest indication that things are about to click in the ‘teamwork’ department?

Why is that so hard to comprehend?

Why do we spend so much energy trying to rectify the natural course of things?

Who in their right mind actually believes, deep down, that there could come a day when we all hold hands and sing Ants Marching together as the sun rises above the communal rice paddies that feed everyone equally, without question?

At night in the summer, I sit in my beat-up Adirondack chair and I stare into the fire pit at the flames revealing their white hot hell heart and all I see is this kind of majestic beauty. This kind of fascinating peace that can only be interpreted and felt with the aid of Spanish red wine/ this uplifting sense of epiphanic understanding and abject zen that can only be experienced under an Appalachian dusk/ as the bats from our attic emerge from the house/ like gunmen from across the border stepping lightly out of the organic shade. I have my stuff, my whiteness, and my masculinity. I have my American power nuts dangling down there between my lawn-mowing legs. I have kids who stand on ideals and principals and talk through their teeth about this and that/ talk out their ass about this and that/ and I am deeply in love with them. With their spirited whims. With all that young person fire. But I don’t feel like anything they might be thinking about how the world should be will ever come true.

So what does that mean? Am I selfish? Am I entitled? Am I crazy as fuck? Or am I all those things and more? Is simply seeing humanity the same as you see nature a cop-out? Or is that what we have been missing all along? Have some of us, many of us even, been thinking that we could literally change the tides if only everyone would cooperate for a change?

End hate. Obliterate abuse. Squash violence. Stop war. Spread equality. Promote freedom. Offer help. Give freely. Take less. I don’t know. I mean, based on what? Based on when? Based on who?

Perhaps, some say, the very essence of being human is the gossamer thread that catches light for us and only us. Maybe, I have heard/ and thought myself, what distinguishes humanity from all other forms of natural life on Earth is our elevated sense of self. Our consciousness, you see, is our story being told out loud. And the sound of it makes us eager to make it sweeter, and better, and less awful so it doesn’t keep us up at night.

But on the flip side, there is this other distinct possibility. This other notion, if you will, allows for us to recognize that maybe we actually aren’t at all separate from the flocks and herds that populate our landscape beside us. The deer, gentle as they are, give little to their fellow beasts from what I can tell. I guess some tiny birds maybe eat their turds to get the seeds or whatever but overall: deer: peaceful as they come, really: they probably don’t give a rat’s ass about bears or raccoons or me or you. They would just as soon avoid all of us if possible.


Because they know the truth based on history and based on science.

Danger oozes off all of us and the goddamn deer slips and falls. After a while, they start adapting. The DNA moves things forward for the deer to survive. How? I don’t fucking know. It makes them faster? Quieter? It eventually gives them the ability to fly maybe? Or they become venomous in a billion years so that they can finally just zap a motherfucker with an electric nip and shit finally gets real in the forest. Whatever has happened and whatever will happen, one thing is for sure. The deer you see munching twilight grass as you hurdle down the parkway towards another one of your little innocuous genocidal outings, they are only up there because they have avoided- at all costs- getting up in everyone’s face every time they felt scared or hungry or threatened or sad. They just walk away, let the chips fall where they may. Is that cowardice? Or is that nature?

I’m not even pretending to have any answers, by the way. I’m just confused as hell. I am the fool of fools, man. See me there: staring up at outer space: 9pm tipsy: medicated son of the morning star.

I mean well, but what the hell does that even mean?

Sometimes I stand up from my chair and I lean down into the fire pit and I scoop my hand down into the writhing white hole to hell and I pull up a fistful of all that violent beauty and I stand there staring at it evaporating my skin so that I can see the skeleton of my hand, the raw heated bones of my right wrist revealing themselves like sweet corn as that old husk is peeled back/ and then I hold it all up to my lips and I kiss it like I would kiss a baby brook trout before I set it free/ but instead of releasing it, I slip the whole enchilada into my mouth, like popcorn, like oatmeal, my hand over my pie hole/ the pain of stark reality never really kicking in/ because I don’t want to think that way.

I want to believe in a team. I want to believe we can change things for the better. But my tongue has just melted into my teeth. And my throat is being spelunked by these sort of hardcore preachers of a fresh old notion.

Class, country, religion, politics, it’s all human construct, right? It’s stuff that wouldn’t exist if we all died of the plague tomorrow and the Earth was left as it is except without humans anymore. That indicates the construct idea. Things that would disappear along with us would likely be human constructs.

But what about race? That one is tougher to call. Are there versions of race that exist within the natural world that mirror or resemble our understanding of the concept? If so, then race wouldn’t necessarily be a human construct. But if there are similar paradigms in which species see each other as something like ‘“the same… BUT DIFFERENT!”, well, then I would surmise that the idea of race does exist in some capacity outside of humanity.

If it doesn’t though/ if most creatures do not typically notice smaller differences between themselves and others of their own species that carry some sort of varying traits that distinguish them physically (if not in other ways as well) from themselves, what does that mean? Do they not have some kind of version of race themselves? Is it just a different species thing? Or do all animals except for humans see themselves as members of something under a broad umbrella… like ‘humanity’… and thus see themselves as different within the collective?

Is that radical thinking or stupid or what do you think?

If squirrels are from Squirrel Land and sparrows are from Sparrowina, do the various species view each other with a basic understanding of biological difference? Or is there more to it than that?

Do the rabbits of Haresylvania have ancient feelings of disdain for the foxes of the United Colonies of Fox because past perceived transgressions? Or do they maybe hate each other just because that’s the way things have always been… based on countless stalkings and murders and stuff like that?

What is genocide when it’s not viewed by humanity? Or is that not how things are? Is genocide, as it turns out, just another human construct? And most of all: Does it even matter?

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Serge Bielanko lives in small-town Pennsylvania with an amazing wife who’s out of his league and a passel of exceptional kids who still love him even when he’s a lot. Every week, he shares his thoughts on life, relationships, parenting, baseball, music, mental health, the Civil War and whatever else is rattling around his noggin.