You see, when the world becomes too solid for nuance, when it hardens up and crystallizes into a binary that forces you to pick a side, compelling you to become intelligible to the hardness that creeps on its once loamy surfaces, cracks become the first responders.
We need a politics of tenderness now more than ever. Not tenderness as capitulation to particular conclusions that have already been made. Not tenderness as "if you don't see the world as I do, there's something wrong with you." But tenderness as a nurturing of grace that allows something different, something even beautiful, to be born in the midst of the fires.
I am however afraid that this hardness will spread like a pestilence, and that the softness of our flesh would be quickly eaten up by scaled skin and stiff exteriors fashioned in the moral likeness of our pain. I am afraid that we would become impervious and inflexible in the correctness of our views, incarcerated within our screams, and unable to be open to the incalculability of being an other. I fear that we are already scaffolding mushroom clouds, monumentalizing the explosion, calcifying it, and fashioning swords from the feathers of the blast. Maybe the days are quickly upon us when a third way, an impossible path, would be so threatening to the hardness of our times, so fugitive, that it would warrant imprisonment. And more wars.
Yes, I am afraid we might become victorious. I despair that we might win. If we do win, if we purchase victory with the blood of the damned other, I hope we might eventually find that to be correct is the biological equivalent of a chick remaining in its eggshell long after being expelled from its mother. Just to be safe. That life is allergic to correctness. And that the algorithms of peace have never been calculated by or premised on who has the right answer.
CHENNAI, OCTOBER 18, 2023.
(Written as the world calcifies under the weight of the Middle Eastern crisis)