PW: The father in “Tracking the War” had no comment about the news of all the beheadings in Mexico’s drug war. The son tried understanding the beheadings with a simple explanation: “It’s just evil,” which he felt was an equally unsatisfying response. Is there an acceptable response?
PP: There are two levels to that question. On the one hand, how does (should) a person react to living in a place in which one can get mugged or kidnapped at any moment, a place in which almost all of these acts go unpunished? After all, people in Mexico City can’t be in a 24/7 state of panic. I guess one just has to go to their defense mechanism of choice: dissociation, denial, isolation, withdrawal, satire, and so on.
The other thing that interests me is how we can approach these horrendous acts intellectually. (Yes, I know, a defense mechanism in itself.) What do these acts mean? This is what really perplexes the characters in this story. What if all this suffering is totally meaningless?
But I guess the easiest way to explain it to someone who hasn’t experienced it—someone, say, living in a nice college town in the Midwest—is to ask them if they think there is an acceptable response to global warming. We’re destroying the planet, we are well aware that we’re destroying the planet, and yet look at us, going about our daily lives as if nothing’s the matter.