27 Nov 2006

Malachi Ritscher's Suicide Note

this horrified me, the idea of committing suicide in the most extreme way to protest about war and the fact that protest seems to have been ignored by the world's media, means we in the blogsphere have to shout out loud.

Malachi Ritscher's obitituary written by him is here.

report on his death here, I have lost the blog address so if you do copywrite apologies to you who wrote this on green bloggers over the weekend.

Saturday, November 25, 2006
Malachi Ritscher
Activist and artist Malachi Ritscher burns himself alive in Chicago in front of morning rush hour commuters to protest the war in Iraq.
From: http://cleveland.indymedia.org/news/2006/11/23624.php


Malachi Ritscher


The press has almost completely blacked out this news in mainstream press .
A long time Chicago activist, artist and contributer to the Chicago jazz scene has burned himself alive in an act of protest against the iraq war. He is only one of 10 Americans in history to have done this .
Buddist monks did this during the VietNam war.
On Friday, November 3, a man doused his body with gasoline and set himself afire to protest the war in Iraq . He died quietly in flames. His name was Malachi Ritscher.

Haven't seen it in the news? Me neither, which is kind of strange if you ask me, considering that it happened right here in downtown Chicago in front of hundreds of commuters during morning rush hour. The only conventional newspaper coverage to date was a tiny paragraph that appeared in the Saturday edition of the Chicago Sun-Times. Since then...nothing.

His death must not be in vain please spread the word
Malachi Ritscher's Suicide Note
- - - - - - - - - -

My actions should be self-explanatory, and since in our self-obsessed culture words seldom match the deed, writing a mission statement would seem questionable. So judge me by my actions. Maybe some will be scared enough to wake from their walking dream state - am I therefore a martyr or terrorist? I would prefer to be thought of as a 'spiritual warrior'. Our so-called leaders are the real terrorists in the world today, responsible for more deaths than Osama bin Laden.

I have had a wonderful life, both full and full of wonder. I have experienced love and the joy and heartache of raising a child. I have jumped out of an airplane, and escaped a burning building. I have spent the night in jail, and dropped acid during the sixties. I have been privileged to have met many supremely talented musicians and writers, most of whom were extremely generous and gracious. Even during the hard times, I felt charmed. Even the difficult lessons have been like blessed gifts. When I hear about our young men and women who are sent off to war in the name of God and Country, and who give up their lives for no rational cause at all, my heart is crushed. What has happened to my country? we have become worse than the imagined enemy - killing civilians and calling it 'collateral damage', torturing and trampling human rights inside and outside our own borders, violating our own Constitution whenever it seems convenient, lying and stealing right and left, more concerned with sports on television and ring-tones on cell-phones than the future of the world.... half the population is taking medication because they cannot face the daily stress of living in the richest nation in the world.

I too love God and Country, and feel called upon to serve. I can only hope my sacrifice is worth more than those brave lives thrown away when we attacked an Arab nation under the deception of 'Weapons of Mass Destruction'. Our interference completely destroyed that country, and destabilized the entire region. Everyone who pays taxes has blood on their hands.

I have had one previous opportunity to serve my country in a meaningful way - at 8:05 one morning in 2002 I passed Donald Rumsfeld on Delaware Avenue and I was acutely aware that slashing his throat would spare the lives of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people. I had a knife clenched in my hand, and there were no bodyguards visible; to my deep shame I hesitated, and the moment was past.

The violent turmoil initiated by the United States military invasion of Iraq will beget future centuries of slaughter, if the human race lasts that long. First we spit on the United Nations, then we expect them to clean up our mess. Our elected representatives are supposed to find diplomatic and benevolent solutions to these situations. Anyone can lash out and retaliate, that is not leadership or vision. Where is the wisdom and honor of the people we delegate our trust to?

To the rest of the world we are cowards - demanding Iraq to disarm, and after they comply, we attack with remote-control high-tech video-game weapons. And then lie about our reasons for invading. We the people bear complete responsibility for all that will follow, and it won't be pretty.

It is strange that most if not all of this destruction is instigated by people who claim to believe in God, or Allah. Many sane people turn away from religion, faced with the insanity of the 'true believers'. There is a lot of confusion: many people think that God is like Santa Claus, rewarding good little girls with presents and punishing bad little boys with lumps of coal; actually God functions more like the Easter Bunny, hiding surprises in plain sight. God does not choose the Lottery numbers, God does not make the weather, God does not endorse military actions by the self-righteous, God does not sit on a cloud listening to your prayers for prosperity. God does not smite anybody. If God watches the sparrow fall, you notice that it continues to drop, even to its death. Face the truth folks, God doesn't care, that's not what God is or does. If the human race drives itself to extinction, God will be there for another couple million years, 'watching' as a new species rises and falls to replace us. It is time to let go of primitive and magical beliefs, and enter the age of personal responsibility. Not telling others what is right for them, but making our own choices, and accepting consequences.

"Who would Jesus bomb?" This question is primarily addressing a Christian audience, but the same issues face the Muslims and the Jews: God's message is tolerance and love, not self-righteousness and hatred. Please consider "Thou shalt not kill" and "As ye sow, so shall ye reap". Not a lot of ambiguity there.

What is God? God is the force of life - the spark of creation. We each carry it within us, we share it with each other. Whether we are conscious of the life-force is a choice we make, every minute of every day. If you choose to ignore it, nothing will happen - you are just 'less conscious'. Maybe you are less happy (maybe not). Maybe you grow able to tap into the universal force, and increase the creativity in the universe. Love is anti-entropy. Please notice that 'conscious' and 'conscience' are related concepts.

Why God - what is the value? Whether committee consensus of a benevolent power that works through humans, or giant fungus under Oregon, the value of opening up to the concept of God is in coming to the realization that we are not alone, establishing a connection to the universe, the experience of finding completion. As individuals we may exist alone, but we are all alone together as a people. Faith is the answer to fear. Fear opposes love. To manipulate through fear is a betrayal of trust.

What does God want? No big mystery - simply that we try to help each other. We decide to make God-like decisions, rescuing falling sparrows, or putting the poor things out of their misery. Tolerance, giving, acceptance, forgiveness.

If this sounds a lot like pop psychology, that is my exact goal. Never underestimate the value of a pep-talk and a pat on the ass. That is basically all we give to our brave soldiers heading over to Iraq, and more than they receive when they return. I want to state these ideas in their simplest form, reducing all complexity, because each of us has to find our own answers anyway. Start from here...

I am amazed how many people think they know me, even people who I have never talked with. Many people will think that I should not be able to choose the time and manner of my own death. My position is that I only get one death, I want it to be a good one. Wouldn't it be better to stand for something or make a statement, rather than a fiery collision with some drunk driver? Are not smokers choosing death by lung cancer? Where is the dignity there? Are not the people the people who disregard the environment killing themselves and future generations? Here is the statement I want to make: if I am required to pay for your barbaric war, I choose not to live in your world. I refuse to finance the mass murder of innocent civilians, who did nothing to threaten our country. I will not participate in your charade - my conscience will not allow me to be a part of your crusade. There might be some who say "it's a coward's way out" - that opinion is so idiotic that it requires no response. From my point of view, I am opening a new door.

What is one more life thrown away in this sad and useless national tragedy? If one death can atone for anything, in any small way, to say to the world: I apologize for what we have done to you, I am ashamed for the mayhem and turmoil caused by my country. I was alive when John F. Kennedy instilled hope into a generation, and I was a sorry witness to the final crushing of hope by Dick Cheney's puppet, himself a pawn of the real rulers, the financial plunderers and looters who profit from every calamity; following the template of Reagan's idiocracy.

The upcoming elections are not a solution - our two party system is a failure of democracy. Our government has lost its way since our founders tried to build a structure which allowed people to practice their own beliefs, as far as it did not negatively affect others. In this regard, the separation of church and state needs to be reviewed. This is a large part of the way that the world has gone wrong, the endless defining and dividing of things, micro-sub-categorization, sectarianism. The direction we need is a process of unification, integrating all people into a world body, respecting each individual. Business and industry have more power than ever before, and individuals have less. Clearly, the function of government is to protect the individual, from hardship and disease, from zealots, from the exploitation, from monopoly, even from itself. Our leaders are not wise persons with integrity and vision - they are actors reading from teleprompters, whose highest goal is to stir up the mob. Our country slaughters Arabs, abandons New Orleaneans, and ignores the dieing environment. Our economy is a house of cards, as hollow and fragile as our reputation around the world. We as a nation face the abyss of our own design.

A coalition system which includes a Green Party would be an obvious better approach than our winner-take-all system. Direct electronic debate and balloting would be an improvement over our non-representative congress. Consider that the French people actually have a voice, because they are willing to riot when the government doesn't listen to them.

"Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government... " - Abraham Lincoln

With regard to those few who crossed my path carrying the extreme and unnecessary weight of animosity: they seemed by their efforts to be punishing themselves. As they acted out the misery of their lives it is now difficult to feel anything other than pity for them.

Without fear I go now to God - your future is what you will choose today.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would not want to unduly publicise this death. I don't regard suicide as an appropriate form of protest - whether in the form of a bomb to destroy others, or merely to destroy oneself.
There are times when a cause is worth dying for - and even times where suicide for a cause is a grim but necessary strategy. That is not the case for somebody in Chicago protesting about Iraq.
In this case, suicide might be the macabre climax to a lifelong psychological journey - but it is wrong for a movement to adopt this as a symbol or a cause. I would not want to see copy-cats.
Every suicide boils down to a implicit statement - either "the world is better off without me", or "I am better off without the world".
I would be extremely reluctant to endorse either of those statements in this case.

The Pagan Science Monitor said...

Peter makes a worthy point. Those of us in Chicago who have been wrestling with Malachi Ritscher's flawed, profound act for almost a month now honestly invite everyone in the world who hears about it ("undue" publicity notwithstanding, Peter) to join the discussion: "Was Malachi Ritscher Crazy?" Feel free to post your comments at:
http://pagansciencemonitor.typepad.com/the_pagan_science_monitor/2006/11/was_malachi_rit.html

Anonymous said...

I have never understood suicide. In the mid sixties I joined the Suicide Prevention Society in San Francisco after making friends with a person that worked with me who had been a telephone counselor for the organization. I read several books available through the society about suicide, the extremes, the common the subtle methods of the act. Notes left by people who committed suicide, sometimes blaming others for their act, sometimes blaming themselves, sometimes god, devils, etc.
I thought suicide to be a real form of insanity then and to some extent still do. However, now at 63 having been exposed or connected to people in my life who have ended their own lives, I also have respect for whatever pain they felt, endured, ran from that led them to their individual demise.
In a twelve step group I sponsored a young gay man who had a terrible problem relapsing to alcoholism. His life circumstances had not taken him to the streets he had a wealthy family that coddled him for many years; however, he had hit some kind of bottom when I met him.
Long story short in a matter of two year he had recovered in so many aspects of his life that many wouldn't believe he was the same person. Then his partner of ten years who had AIDS died suddenly from complications of the disease.
Within a week he stopped communicating with me, started drinking, and then shot himself in the head with a 38 in his condo.
I blamed myself for awhile about what I might have done differently but suddenly realized that my pain was not his. His pain was so convoluted by visceral issues related to who he was, how he was treated as a gay man throughout his life, that I could never understand his specific, his particular brand of personal pain. I forgave myself for my own self-pity and forgave him for his and honored him for the person he really was a loving human being.
Mr. Ritscher might have been flawed as the pagan science person believes, but on the other side of the sword his pain, personal and visceral must be respected for the HUGE statement he made by his own method of dying. When in comparison American people sit on their behinds allowing an administration to commit some of the most heinous acts against innocent people pawned off as a "war on terror" when it easy to see that we are the terrorists.
September 11, 2001 was a tragic event for the people of New York and the rest of the country. But the response to protect ourselves from other attacks has been totally and inappropriately been mishandled by a bunch of radical right wing evil people in our own government.
We lost over three thousand souls in September of 2001. We have been responsible by our actions in killing over 300,000 Iraqis, Afghans and people who have come to their aid in the Mideast, notwithstanding another 3,000 young men in our military and the 22,000 who have been gravely wounded.
There are no winners here; there never will be when we resort to violence, killing and the destruction of other countries.
There are better solutions for our security problems; that's why we have diplomats.
Malachi Rirscher was a diplomat who apparently as a gentle soul was angry enough about our actions that he gave his life for what he perceived could be a better life for all of us. I laud Mr. Ritscher for the person he was for the action that he took based on his own perception of right and wrong and for that I understand suicide a little differently today.
Mel

Anonymous said...

I have never understood suicide. In the mid sixties I joined the Suicide Prevention Society in San Francisco after making friends with a person that worked with me who had been a telephone counselor for the organization. I read several books available through the society about suicide, the extremes, the common the subtle methods of the act. Notes left by people who committed suicide, sometimes blaming others for their act, sometimes blaming themselves, sometimes god, devils, etc.
I thought suicide to be a real form of insanity then and to some extent still do. However, now at 63 having been exposed or connected to people in my life who have ended their own lives, I also have respect for whatever pain they felt, endured, ran from that led them to their individual demise.
In a twelve step group I sponsored a young gay man who had a terrible problem relapsing to alcoholism. His life circumstances had not taken him to the streets he had a wealthy family that coddled him for many years; however, he had hit some kind of bottom when I met him.
Long story short in a matter of two year he had recovered in so many aspects of his life that many wouldn't believe he was the same person. Then his partner of ten years who had AIDS died suddenly from complications of the disease.
Within a week he stopped communicating with me, started drinking, and then shot himself in the head with a 38 in his condo.
I blamed myself for awhile about what I might have done differently but suddenly realized that my pain was not his. His pain was so convoluted by visceral issues related to who he was, how he was treated as a gay man throughout his life, that I could never understand his specific, his particular brand of personal pain. I forgave myself for my own self-pity and forgave him for his and honored him for the person he really was a loving human being.
Mr. Ritscher might have been flawed as the pagan science person believes, but on the other side of the sword his pain, personal and visceral must be respected for the HUGE statement he made by his own method of dying. When in comparison American people sit on their behinds allowing an administration to commit some of the most heinous acts against innocent people pawned off as a "war on terror" when it easy to see that we are the terrorists.
September 11, 2001 was a tragic event for the people of New York and the rest of the country. But the response to protect ourselves from other attacks has been totally and inappropriately been mishandled by a bunch of radical right wing evil people in our own government.
We lost over three thousand souls in September of 2001. We have been responsible by our actions in killing over 300,000 Iraqis, Afghans and people who have come to their aid in the Mideast, notwithstanding another 3,000 young men in our military and the 22,000 who have been gravely wounded.
There are no winners here; there never will be when we resort to violence, killing and the destruction of other countries.
There are better solutions for our security problems; that's why we have diplomats.
Malachi Rirscher was a diplomat who apparently as a gentle soul was angry enough about our actions that he gave his life for what he perceived could be a better life for all of us. I laud Mr. Ritscher for the person he was for the action that he took based on his own perception of right and wrong and for that I understand suicide a little differently today.
Mel