19 May 2011

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.

Wednesday May 11, 2011
Inured to violence and death

Living in an environment where killing is flashed every day in the media, one can become numb to what it really means.

IN Michael Moore’s documentary Bowling for Columbine, about the Columbine High School boys who gunned down their schoolmates and teachers, he postulated that one of the possible reasons they did this was that they lived in an environment that had become so used to death and killing that young people had become unable to think of these as real.

He pointed out that in the nearby area there was a factory that built cruise missiles meant to kill people thousands of miles away, death machines for distant lands and peoples.

It is perhaps true that when you live in an environment where death and destruction are beamed to you every day in the media, you become immune to what these really mean.

Tragic day: Rescuers attending to the wounded near Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, during a shooting rampage by two students in 1999. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and a teacher before taking their own lives. — AP
Recently, an American Red Cross study among teenagers in the US found that more than 60% of them supported torture as a valid way of obtaining information from prisoners of war.

This was a far cry from the attitude of their parents and grandparents who, after World War Two, supported the 1949 Geneva Conventions that made illegal the use of torture on such prisoners.

But yet unsurprising when you consider the amount of propaganda American teenagers are subject to every day about how the information being obtained from those held in Guantanamo is what is keeping them safe from terrorists, and supposedly led to the killing of the so-called Chief Terrorist.

No wonder then that there was much champagne-pouring and patriotic jubilation when the news got out that the Chief Terrorist had been killed.

Although some were appalled at this unseemly celebration, especially at the site of the World Trade Centre, others gloated because this was exactly what some Muslims had also done when more than 3,000 people – mostly Americans, but some Muslims too – died on Sept 11, 2001.

Apparently in revenge for those earlier celebrations, one should also party now.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

But what has become of this world where we have accepted that violence and death are simply what should happen to people we don’t like, especially if they are distant and foreign? How have we managed to numb ourselves to it all?

In the aftermath of last Sunday’s events in Pakistan, a quote attributed to Dr Martin Luther King Jr travelled via social media all round the world.

“I mourn the death of thousands,” he was reported to have said, “but I do not rejoice in the death of one, even an enemy.”

It turned out that Dr King never said any such thing, or at least not in those exact words. But it is not a bad sentiment, and the fact that it went round the world so quickly does show that there are many who believe it.

I had the opportunity to visit the Dr Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Centre in Atlanta recently.

Reading the history of his life and looking at the photographs, especially of the marches against segregation, it seems incredible that only 40 years or so ago, African-Americans had to suffer the indignity of discrimination just because of the colour of their skin.

More incredible still was the violence that various state authorities used to enforce this discrimination, not to mention vigilante groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

Yet Dr King and his supporters fought patiently and relentlessly against all this, without using violence. And today an African-American is President of the United States.

I wonder what Dr King would have thought of the state of affairs the world finds itself in today, where violence, death and destruction are commonplace, even as state policy.

What would he have thought of the two hours it takes to get out of his hometown’s airport if you arrive from an international destination ... because your bags have to be X-rayed three times and every single arriving passenger is treated as if he or she is potentially a suicide bomber?

Or that, the day after the Chief Terrorist died, there was a global security alert, which now seems ridiculously unfounded.

I think he would have preferred to look at what is happening in the Middle East and applaud the tenacity of Arabs, especially the young, in pushing for the freedom and democracy that African-Americans too wanted in the 60s.

Especially the fact that they are doing it peacefully, in the face of much state violence, willing to die – and indeed dying, just like Dr King – for their cause.

He would have pointed out that the so-called Chief Terrorist, because he was not interested in freedom and democracy either, was in fact more akin to unpopular dictators.

We are yet to experience any of the violence others have undergone or are going through. But let’s not underestimate the power of violent words to set the tone of the environment we live in.

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