On Saturday, a rogue member of the United States military left his post to go to a small Afghan village in the dark of night where he broke into four small huts and murdered 16 people including 9 children. This isn’t a tragedy, this is a horror. The tragedy is that this horror is no longer unique.
CNN and other mainstream media have already begun their entertainment-driven in depth analysis, dissecting every minute detail from every conceivable angle. Air time must be filled and an audience entertained. Psychologists are produced to comment on post-traumatic-stress-disorder. The military base at which the serviceman served is analyzed, as much as can be learned about his family is revealed and endless repeats of comments from the military, politicians and Afghan leaders and citizens are replayed like the halftime highlights of a football game.
Even videos, like the one posted here begin with a commercial because no horror, no loss of life can be allowed to interfere with the business of doing business,. Nothing is sacred and especially not human life.
In the end, nothing is learned, nothing is changed, and nothing is resolved. The following day will be a continuation of how we lived the day before.
Political and military leaders are speaking out using words like ‘shocking’, ‘tragedy’ and ‘rampage’. They were once again caught by surprise just as they were caught by surprise when marines urinated on dead members of the Taliban, the ensuing violent protests by a people outraged and two American officers were shot in the Afghan Security Headquarters in retaliation for American soldiers burning copies of the Koran.
It isn’t a secret that these horrors happen but our societies never anticipate them happening and is never prepared when they do. We stop for a moment, express our concern but we don’t seriously consider the root causes and attempt to take measures to prevent these horrors. They always come on us unexpectedly.
This is not a condemnation of the U.S. military, this latest horror simply exemplifies the society in which we now live. These horrific events are not exclusive to the U.S. military or any military for that matter. They happen in war zones, in schools, in homes and in offices. They happen in democracies and theocracies, dictatorships and monarchies. They happen when it is least expected and with increasing frequency.
They happen because we are not a village.
Terrorists kill. The military kills. Parents kill. Criminals, neighbours, colleagues and drug gangs kill. Even government kills in many countries and places like China and Iran, routinely execute people in the same numbers and with the same expediency as was seen in France during the Reign of Terror. Just line ’em up and move ’em out.
Life is cheap.
In our conceit we debate abortion as if we know with certainty when a life is or is not human. We discuss euthanasia with the compassion of convenience that is lower than anything we might bring to putting down a pet. We give more support to causes to save environment and to groups like PETA to save animals than we do the sanctity of human life.
We are arrogant and indifferent.
We have built a world that puts a higher value on a new Apple iPad and the cost of gasoline than it does on human life. The discussions online are about politics, technology and criticisms of those who annoy us or with whom we violently disagree. Somewhere, in that clutter of shallow discourse is the odd comment about the latest horror or atrocity but within moments of the comment, it is back to the real business at hand.
We blame government because it’s easy. We blame the system because it’s convenient but we never blame ourselves. We never stop and look at what we each are doing to the world we think we want. It is always the responsibility or fault of someone else.
Hillary Clinton wrote that ‘it takes a village’ to raise a child and many on social media like to think they are part of a global village but we aren’t. Villages are filled with people who care for and who protect each other. Despite their daily disagreements and tasks, they never lose sight of the fact that the success of the village comes from unity.
Their priorities always start with the village’s obligation to protect every member of the village, especially its children. It is a simple concept where recognition of the need to work daily to provide food, shelter and safety coupled with respect for others is how unity is maintained. Children are protected by the village. The poor are fed by the village. The infirm and the ill are cared for by the village. Individual accomplishment is encouraged and celebrated, those who struggle are helped by those who succeed.
It is not communism. It is something else.
It is something that we, for all of our sophistication, no longer understand. It is a sense of community, an understanding of belonging to something greater than ourselves, a unity which not only protects us but gives us the freedom to live our individual lives.
We are not a village. We are a world of self-absorbed clusters of hate, economic class, ideology, hypocrisy and intolerance for anyone and anything not part of our current cluster.
In the past month, three children were murdered by their parents. There is more horror coming but we are not prepared. Our children are either bullies, the victims of bullies or merely observers of bullying. Whichever they are, they have learned that indifference or anger from us. We have taught them well. Too many of our children give up and teen suicides are increasing as we debate the trivia of the day or scramble for more money to buy more things.
Life is cheap. We no longer consider the lives of anyone but those closest to us to have much value. We are too busy for much more than a passing comment over the death of nine children. They weren’t our children or even the children of those near us. They were ‘their’ children and their lives are cheap. We don’t even have time to stop and reconsider how to stop the carnage of our own.
We live in a world where we devote more time to discussing trivia than to children at risk. We live in a world where abject poverty exists in the richest countries in the world. We live in a world where excuses and vested-self interest reign supreme.
We will see the horror of that Saturday night in Afghanistan again and then again because we are too sophisticated to remember how to be a village.
© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
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