A Fire That Will Not Be Contained
Now, I'm afraid that I have zero time or energy to write anything hard-hitting about this undoubtedly hard-hitting story. So in lieu of anything new, I repost verbatim this item from the CF archives, whose bearing on the case speaks for itself:
To the right is a photograph of Vasilica Iulian Grosu, a Romanian father who has chosen self-immolation as a way of protesting the loss of his son. This picture was taken at Victoria Square in Bucharest on 12 July, 2005, in front of the Romanian government building. Mr. Grosu is protesting the fact that although a Romanian court had awarded him the custody of his son, the son remained with the mother in Spain where a Spanish court had taken the boy away from him. And it seems that the Romanian government had taken NO steps to expedite the boy back to Romania. Nor could Mr. Grosu get any satisfaction from the International Court in The Hague. Mr. Grosu had exhausted all conventional measures when he finally hit upon this incendiary method. In the end, the police stepped in and doused the flames, but Mr. Grosu's body was burned over 55% of its surface. So he took an enormous risk of killing himself even though it isn't clear if he actually intended to do so. But whatever his intentions, Vasilica Iulian Grosu died of his burn trauma 8 days later on 20 July, 2005. Read more about it here, and here.
In our next photo, we meet a very different man with a very different mission. This is the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc who, like Mr. Grosu, chose self-immolation as a form of protest. On 11 June, 1963, Quang Duc set himself ablaze while seated in the Buddhist posture of meditation. His aim was to protest the brutality of the Diem government which amongst other barbarities practiced genocidal repression against Buddhists and Buddhism - and concerning which, President Diem responded with the kind of pompous official stonewalling arrogance that we know too well. Quang Duc did not have the benefit of timely rescuers - no doubt he wanted it that way. So unlike Mr. Grosu, Quang Duc endured no 8-day lingering agonies in the hospital - the inferno did its work and toasted him to a crisp within a few short minutes! And according to witnesses, he sat through it with all the unflappable composure of a Sakyamunic sage. Afterwards, his friends reverently removed what was left of him.
What on earth could drive a man to set fire to himself? One thing is for certain: setting fire to yourself is no joke. I don't intend to try it, and I would not encourage you to try it either! To do such an horrific thing, you must be feeling very, very strongly about something, and you must feel that nothing else any longer avails you. It is clear to me that both Vasilica Iulian Grosu and Thich Quang Duc had no further care for this life at all, and chose to express this in a way which they thought might make a difference.
Such is the power of martydom. And this (pointing to myself) is not the stuff of which martyrs are made!
So I shall have done with these morbid fooleries that weigh so heavily upon mine heart! It is time now to "lighten up".
Perhaps I will go to amuse myself with a silly computer game about throwing rocks at boys. . . .
And here is another story, of a father who at least wanted to set himself on fire -- but was prevented. To some it might seem comical, but there was not a damned thing funny about it:
So, WHY has the story of Thomas James Ball been ignored and hushed up? I would say, two reasons:
The first reason: social indifference. The story did not register, in the crania of most people, as significant. When a man in Tunisia sets himself ablaze and sets a vast region of the world politically ablaze, that strikes most people as significant. And indeed, those events were very, very significant. But when Thomas Ball decided to "light up", this did not ignite street rioting throughout New Hampshire which threatened to topple the state government and spread to all of New England. And so to most people, Thomas Ball's story was the stuff of tabloids, a pitiful tale of a fellow who went over the edge -- and there an end. The kind of story that inspires people to shake their heads in wonder, and discharge sentiments of the "wow!" and "oh my god!" and "boy-oh-boy!" variety. A nine-minutes wonder to be shared with co-workers on the following day and immediately forgotten but briefly resurrected three years after that, when somebody remarks "hey, do you remember that guy who set himself on fire in . . uh . . Vermont I think it was?" And that's it. That's all it means to them. Finito!
And the second reason: that a comparatively small group of people DO comprehend the enormity of Thomas Ball's story -- and they'd rather such comprehension be confined to channels and not shared by the public at large. They fear a domino effect in the public mind, a linking of the dots, a leading of one conclusion to the next in a direction that would menace their position in the scheme of things. And something else: they fear a copycat effect. When men in similar circumstances learn what Thomas Ball has done, they could be driven by their own desperation and inspired by the symbolism of the gesture to follow his lead and add to an accumulating martyrology. And trust me, the last thing that certain people on a certain side in a certain war wish to see, is the other side racking up martyr points by such a blistering method of operation.
And so it is clear how the passive forgetfulness of the first group plays into the conniving hands of the second, which seeks willfully to suppress knowledge of current political realities. Call this a "conspiracy" if you insist, but most so-called conspiracies are easily explained as the natural effect of individuals and groups falling into step with each other, in a manner that promotes a particular outcome.
The Thomas Ball story may yet become the flashpoint in a grassroots revolution when you consider the impressively large web traffic which the story has generated outside the mainstream media. Yes, people in the activated non-feminist community are talking about this all over the world. Bear that in mind.