I saw an interview with NBC’s Tom Brokaw this morning that has really set me to thinking. He was discussing what an increasingly violent place the world is becoming when he mentioned something a friend told him: ”Not only is there no light at the end of the tunnel, we can’t even be certain there IS a tunnel at the moment.” Whether you’re talking about the Middle East, about Pakistan, Nepal, the Philippines, or American mailboxes; whether you’re Israeli, Palestinian, al-Qaeda, or live in Iowa, violence has become an everyday part of the vernacular. And a change anytime soon is looking increasingly unlikely.
When did we lose the ability to talk to one another? When did violence come to be viewed as the acceptable (and only) option for effective problem resolution? It seems as if the world is becoming caught up in this endless, vicious cycle of tit-for-tat, an eye for an eye. This serves to illustrate my favorite Mahatma Gandhi quote: ”An eye for an eye only serves to make the whole world blind.” It would seem we are well and too far down that road.
There was a time when politicians and leaders had the moral courage and the vision to see that nonviolence and negotiation could often solve problems AND save lives. Gandhi almost single-handedly toppled the British Empire without firing a shot. Unfortunately, we now live in a world where people like Yasir Arafat, Timothy McVeigh, Osama bin-Laden, or Luke Helder see it as their right to seek redress for their grievances, whether real or perceived, by causing grievous bodily harm to innocents. These people (and others like them) have killed, or tried to kill, thousands, and yet their “issues” remain substantially unresolved. So what, then, has been accomplished, other than the slaughter of those whose only connection was that they were to be used and viewed as political pawns?
In order to fight the growing threat of political violence, governments have now become more and more like the terrorists they claim to be trying to defeat. Israel unofficially sanctions state-supported political assassinations. Nepalese soldiers dress as the Maoist rebels they despise, and then go into remote villages to see who salutes or responds positively. Those unfortunate souls who do not recognize the ruse are summoned for questioning and, shortly afterwards, summary execution. A look or a careless smile could unwittingly turn out to be an innocent civilian’s last mortal act.
Somewhere along the line, peacemakers have become passé. We are all the poorer for it….
To say that the world is any more violent today than it was 50, 100, 1000 years ago, is nonsensical. People are, and always will be, violent, there are just many more ways to be violent these days, and a much better way of reporting about that violence.
Sure, I agree the world would be a better place if everyone resolved their dificulties with a nice polite game of pinochle, but it just ain't gonna happen.
by mg at May 9, 2002 12:12 AM
The palestinians and the people of Israel have been at each others throat for too long for some diplomat to solve the problem in a few meetings. Everything those people have been taught is that the other side is wrong. Hey if my family was blown up I be HELL BENT on getting even with the bad guy, but after seeing this tactic fail for a few hundred years ... time to try something new.
What exactly is beyond me.
And what kind of sense of humor does God have when he has these people live next to each other?????????
by Burnie at May 10, 2002 2:28 AM