Perfect Blue
Kona Macphee
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Commentary: Wildwar

My daughter was born at the end of January in 2003, and a few weeks later, Iraq was invaded by the US and its allies. The emotional aftermath of pregnancy and birth, and the shock of having a small and wholly dependent life to care for, left me feeling more emotional and vulnerable than usual. I found the news of the invasion, and particularly the intensive nighttime airstrikes, very distressing.

As I lay in bed with my baby, I imagined the new mothers in Baghdad cowering with their own tiny infants, as bombs and missiles took apart the world around them. I felt outraged and helpless, filled with overwhelming empathy and empty of power to do anything. I found myself wishing that a few more of the world's "leaders" (from all sides) might be made to feel this way too - because how could they continue to wreak such destruction if they really, truly felt the implications at an emotional level? There are few evils in human activity that aren't due, at least in part, to the failure of empathy.

The emotions I felt then were highly charged, which makes them quite difficult to write about without becoming mawkish or hectoring. In this case I've held onto the feelings about war and vulnerability, but approached the subject obliquely, by simply observing the (mostly unreported) "collateral damage" suffered by the natural world - animals, insects, plants - at the hands of our mechanised, technologised and industrially-scaled tools of destruction.

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