Is there something wrong with the human race? We seem to have gone just plain loco, with compassion, sensitivity, honesty, courage — all the values that are essential to drive the wedge between a man and a beast — replaced with anger, greed, dishonesty, nastiness and what have you.
Israel, instead of living peacefully and ensuring the Palestinians had their own peaceful homeland, has done exactly the opposite over the past decades. It has waged constant war and turned into probably one of the worst aggressors of the world by pretending to be the victim. And in the process, the Palestinians are being butchered mercilessly, while the world watches. It has taken the United Nations two weeks to put forth a resolution.
There is violence everywhere. In Iraq, where a rich civilisation has been annihilated, in Syria where sovereignty has been reduced to rubble at the hands of armed rebels, in Libya that has been turned into a hellhole for its people; similar are instances in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And not so long ago, there was a pogrom of Tamils in Sri Lanka. In India, hate and injustice seems to be holding sway, with anger replacing the compassion and the values articulated by Mahatma Gandhi when the nation was founded.
The first response of a government to dissent from its people is to arrest, maim and kill. Nationalism has become jingoistic, linked entirely with military macho-ism. If you talk of peace, you are anti-national, if you talk war, of death and destruction, you are a true patriot. If you talk of religious harmony, of camaraderie, of reaching out and embracing — you are a coward and a traitor to your caste or religion. If you abuse, you are a hero; if you keep your counsel and your dignity, you are a coward.
Intolerance has become the hallmark of this new civilisation that has emerged after 9/11 and is still taking shape. Terrorism is used to justify state terror. ‘Enemies’ are created to continue a war against other nations and against the people. The ‘other’ has become the stereotype used by crafty governments to wage wars that never end, and to kill and murder with impunity. The lie is repeated so often through the media machinery that supports the state and its financial backers that it eventually becomes the truth. Consent is manufactured and an atmosphere created when violence is then supported and even embraced by a people who do not realisse that in doing so, they are justifying exactly what they claim to be opposing.
The Iraq war is a case in point, although it is repeated in different forms and different ways by other governments. The lie was first created — weapons of mass destruction (WMD) — and then given a spin that sent it rolling through the global skies to be picked up by supporting nations one by one. A proud civilisation was destroyed, with the embedded media reporting the lie faithfully as the truth. There were no stories about the tragedy of war, only reports about the heroism of soldiers fighting a virtually unarmed enemy. When the truth became clear, as it always does at some point, that there were no WMDs, it was immediately replaced by another lie whereby the US was now out to bring justice to the Iraqis by getting rid of its ‘tyrant’ — Saddam Hussein. This then became the justification for continuing the war and destroying Iraq completely.
The ‘other’ changes through history. Today, the ‘other’ is the Muslim who is attacked even as he or she speaks. The attack in parts of the world is venomous, but one would have thought this would, at least, bring the persecuted together and for peace. Instead, it has further divided the Muslim world, and Arab nations watch silently as Israel carries on a genocide in Gaza. There is always that government or state which embraces the perpetrators of violence instead of standing with the persecuted. There is a great deal of truth in the adage that those who keep silent in the face of atrocities are as guilty as those committing them.
In all this, peace is the casualty, as is humanity — perhaps irrevocably so.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2014.
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