Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of A Fist

A novel based around the Seattle anti-globalization protest By Sunil Yapa

Sunil Yapa writes a story that seems to span the world multiple times, within a timeline of just a few hours in Seattle. It’s not just any day in Seattle though, this novel takes place during the . During the book, characters grapple with different angles of the idea of globalization, and well the nature of human kind itself. One of the protesters reflects:

“Wasn’t [globalization] just a new kind of slavery? Was a cheap pair of socks really worth doing that to a child? People had to see that. The basic wrongness. They knew. But nobody was talking about it because it was hidden. They would have you believe it was the only way the world could be. And the WTO. The organization which makes it all legal and turns it to law? How legitimate could the WTO be if they are forced to beat innocent citizens in the street to protect their own meetings?”

Also arriving on the protest scene is a Sri Lankan diplomat who is supposed to attend the WTO meeting that day. During his first interactions with America the diplomat muses:

“Here they were born to wealth and comfort while their country threatened to slide into a chaos from which it might never return. Tiresome people, but he knew it was only human nature to believe it best to ignore suffering, to focus on your own good fortune. The human survival mechanism: to say your prayers, thank your gods, and hold your breath when you passed the slums. The sweet poison of privilege, wasn’t it?”

An American bystander — freshly back in the US from abroad — also finds himself in the middle of the protest scene. He considers who might be responsible for the way the world is:

“How can we blame him, Victor wanted to know- the nice professor with a beard? He wasn’t the one who dropped it on the North Vietnamese. How can we really blame the pilot that piloted the plane, or the navigator, or the bombardier. They didn’t make the war. Blame the politicians who sent us in? Why bother? They are the most alienated of all, their work to make decisions for millions of people who are known to them only as polling statistics, a crowd of faces come election time, a map of Vietnam come killing time, a cluster of red dots which represents something which must be destroyed. They have the most difficult job of all- to somehow connect that splash of red to the human life it somehow denotes. An awfully tall order to imbue the mindless statistic with the humanity it represents, the village, the rice, the longing for life, the familiar worried glance to the sky to see if rain is coming and it is not rain or cloud that you find there but American B-52s in formation. The terror and the strangeness of this alien bug blotting your sky and causing your children to cry in fear, your chickens to run in fear, but where will they go, back and forth in their pen, and the pigs to scream in fear, and the humans to run in fear, but where will they go, nowhere to go, of course, to escape the destruction that is coming, unless they mean to escape the confines of being Vietnamese. The bombs falling are their ticket to refugee status, the sucking engine whine the signal of their exile from the world where grass is grass and a bird in a tree something to love without thought because it means home.

No more birds, no more grass, alien life in exile, how could we ever ask anyone to fully inhabit the human life of someone so distant? We cannot ask this man to see where his product will go, how far it will travel…”

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© Copyright 2018 Annie Windholz

midwestern librarian, writer, activist. subscribe —

midwestern librarian, writer, activist. subscribe —