One Child Please Run Away

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2009 at 12:00 am

Random Pittsburgh 011

“How about that G-20?” people say. “Is that crazy or what?”

Crazy, indeed: Crazy that the world’s most powerful countries picked Pittsburgh, of all places, to hold their conference on global “development.” Crazy that this convergence will “boost” the economy with booked-solid hotels and embassy-financed fine-dining. Crazy that thousands of protesters will arrive in Pittsburgh and battle with police in the narrow, confusing streets of Downtown. Crazy that shop windows will be shattered and cops and anarchists will use any excuse to engage in hand-to-hand combat. Crazy that the media will misconstrue every quote from every pair of lips.

I’m getting anxious, because I have friends on both sides. I related my trepidations to my friends J. and L. the other night. J. joined an anti-war protest a few years ago, and although he was a peaceful demonstrator, he was savagely beaten by batons. Meanwhile, my friend B.H. told me that his father is more or less in charge of keeping the peace at the forthcoming G-20 summit. After the G-8 meeting in London, I have high hopes and grim expectations. Nothing would make me happier than a peaceful march. And nothing would surprise me more.

Every time I bike to South Side, I coast beneath a bridge in Panther Hollow. Someone daring decided to shimmy up this bridge and spraypaint a message across its support beams: ONE CHILD PLEASE RUN AWAY WITH THE SEEDS. The inscription must have been painted upside-down, and I can’t imagine that the nameless graffitist took the time to fasten harnesses. In short, someone risked his (or her) life to tag this bridge, most likely at night, in the dark, about 40 feet above bone-crushing pavement and gravel.

It’s a desperate sentiment: One child (brave, alone), please run away (begging, the child must flee, escape, abandon everything) with the seeds (a utopian message, a foundation for a new, better existence). In other words: Save yourself, this world isn’t worth preserving. Might as well just start from scratch, and only one messianic youngster can do it. The rest of us will burn, burn, burn.

When you can smell the coming chaos, wafting in on the air, and you can imagine with perfect clarity your hometown littered with debris, dotted with blood and hazy with tear-gas, it’s easy to feel a little apocalyptic. Like most wars, this one can’t be won: Corporations don’t care, and activists will be confidently ignored. And in October, when the smoke has cleared, I’ll still bike beneath that mysterious slogan and wonder who that child is supposed to be. What seeds is this child supposed to plant? Where? Why should next harvest’s roots be any healthier than this season’s?


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