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My favorite story is “The Dead” by James Joyce. It’s a Christmas story in the tradition of “A Christmas Carol,” in that it is a ghost story. After a holiday party, an Irishman named Gabriel discovers that his wife, Gretta, has been sharing her heart with another, a boy who loved her and died many years ago. In this way, the boy was still in their midst, influencing events with his memory. And conversely, he realized that they were also among the dead, both because their thoughts were with those who’ve passed and because we are all future ghosts.
“Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age,” Gabriel thinks.
The winter issue of Latterly, due out in January, honors all the dead and acknowledges their presence in our lives. The cover depicts Berta Cáceres, a human rights defender and environmentalist, murdered by U.S.-trained energy company assassins in 2016 at her home in La Esperanza, Honduras. Cáceres had opposed a hydroelectric dam. Her friends, staring down their own death threats, continue to fight land exploitation in her memory. J. Malcolm Garcia traveled throughout Honduras to report our cover story.
Elsewhere, there are other martyrs, though their only cause was to live in peace and enjoy the love of their families. In Myanmar, the government and nationalist mobs have killed at least 6,700 Rohingya, torching their homes and at times incinerating screaming babies or impaling children as parents watch helpless. We are documenting this genocide for our readers and joining the chorus that demands justice for those silenced by violence and trauma. We can’t rely even on Peace Prize winners to speak out against this; the responsibility is all of ours.
In this issue, we reflect on the actions and consequences of the Holocaust, the Syrian War and the Colombian conflict. It is a dark issue then.
But look at Berta. She knew they would kill her. She knew it for years. But she smiled and said, “There are many things I still want to do in this world.”
We are not mourning the dead in this issue. They aren’t wholly gone. Their energy lives within these few inadequate pages. It lives inside Black Lives Matter and the White Helmets. It lives in the journalists and activists whose colleagues gave everything. It lives in our anger at those who wage war on humanity in Myanmar, Yemen, Syria, Libya and too many other places to name. And their energy lives in all of us who still grieve the people we love, no matter how long it’s been, and resolve to live righteously in their honor and for our children, whose memories we’ll soon inhabit.
“One by one, they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly…”
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