I’m sitting in my room with my headphones on. The low murmur of CNN is still detectable. There was another shooting today. My husband needs to know. I already want to forget.
I watched with him during some of the calmer moments–SWAT teams walking around a residential neighborhood, that sort of thing. The anchor and her guests were stating the obvious things about American police tactics that they always talk about during times of action, but no information. Then they talked of Paris and radicals, terrorism and bombs. They prefaced everything with acknowledgements of their ignorance, but that did not stop their mouths.
As they spoke, the never-ending scroll of information caught my eye: United States decides to start bombing after some debate; Britain to start bombing soon; Germany gearing up to start bombing; France asking for more bombs…
I am not a pacifist though I imagine I could become one before my life ends. Why do we keep doing the same thing and expecting different results?
I think of America’s Civil War and World War II and decide those were wars that needed to be fought, but I say that with the distinct advantage of hindsight. Would I have thought the same thing if I had been around at the time? Would I call them justified if they had ended differently?
How can you have a war on terrorism when war itself is terrorism?
We do this thing where we spend millions and billions on war, then we leave. Maybe the fighting is done, maybe it isn’t, but we leave. We leave these people that we have terrorized with ruined homes and ruined lives and expect them to fix what we have broken. We may send a tiny fraction of the money we spent destroying them to rebuild, but never enough. We leave the ones we claim to have “saved” in squalor, usually worse than where they began, and are surprised when they grow to hate us.
We contribute to the cycle of violence with every act of violence we commit, regardless of our intentions. So, how do we stop? Can we stop? Evolution is a game of getting to the top and it was a bloody rise for humans. Societal evolution has been just as bloody, but even worse, for we have been violent whilst having a conscious.
My children’s first acts of violence came long before they could speak. I regularly played games in which I and my friends imagined ourselves in situations of heinous hardship. Our entertainment is not just laced with violence–violence is often the point. Our games are purposely ‘us versus them’. Do these casual examples of violence serve as outlets or provocations of our worst traits?
Fear is such a basic instinct. It is easy to lash out in pain, easier than to spread happiness. The dichotomy of good versus evil is uncomplicated compared to the complex reasons why people deliberately cause harm. Are we doomed to rinse and repeat the bloodshed until we are no more?
Imperialism is not our answer, but neither is willful ignorance and inaction. This is not a day on which I feel optimistic about the human race.