Idle Culture

Writings of a cultural dysfunct

Location: Seattle, United States

Saturday, October 30, 2004

That is just what happens in War

“That is just what happens in War—people die.”

The statement in itself is true. People do die when wars are waged. It is expected that there will be casualties, that there will be loss of life on both sides. However, the loss of life that has occurred is not just reserved for those that are fighting with guns and missiles. A huge number of casualties are innocent people that have nothing to do with the war that is being fought in their neighborhood other than being unfortunate enough to have it in their neighborhood. These are people that are trying to live their lives despite the constant fear of death. These are people that are trying to raise their children, hoping that their beautiful babies do not become a statistic by being caught in the middle of someone else’s battle.

Humans can sometimes be a shortsighted species. We tend to care most about the people that We are related to and have a desire to make sure that the ones that We love are well taken care of physically and emotionally. We care most about issues that directly affect Us. We want the towns that We live in to be free of crime, to be safe for Our children. We don’t want Our water and air to be polluted. We want Our children to grow up and to be successful. These are truths that are widespread, that are evident in all cultures and societies. We all want the world around Us to be as near perfect as is possible.

But what happens when thousands of miles separate Us from Them? How do We react when We hear that several thousand people are now dead, will never reach adulthood, will never see their children grow up (if they survive)? Do We respond with despair for these lost people?
There are many that do feel a pain in knowing that such a horrible tragedy has occurred in the modern world where warfare is supposed to be more 'civilized' by having the capability of targeting true enemies.

However, there are a great many people who say, “That is just what happens in War—people die.” The callousness of those words cut right into those that look beyond their own little worlds. To consider innocent loss of life as NOTHING is abominable. It is tragic to hear that ONE innocent person died due to a bomb, inadequate healthcare because the fighting is outside, or not enough medication to treat injured people. But to amplify that number by several thousand is heart wrenching. It cannot be overlooked. It cannot be excused away by simply stating that War causes death. To do so means to have that shortsightedness of only caring about yourself. There is no excuse for any human to pretend that others are not valuable, that the lives of people that we will never know do not have a worth to someone else.

We all feel that our own lives are valuable and would be hurt if we were ever put through the same tribulations as those that live in war torn areas. When people that we care about are ill or pass away, our whole world stops as we care for them or grieve our loss. When sickness comes, we expect treatment to be given. We expect to be treated humanely. We expect that our lives are worth enough to someone else to care about us.

One thing that is evident when people make those callous responses is that they view their own lives as worth more than someone they do not know. It is justifiable that they die since they live in a military zone and it is expected that they will die anyway but it is not okay for anyone to cause me harm. It is okay for them to be denied the opportunity to grow up because…that is just the way the world works.

It is also evident that those callous people are seeking a justification to the loss of innocent lives. War makes it okay for people to die. But where is the justification for a war that kills innocent people? What is to be gained by children dying? I can find no justification for that. The 'reasons' behind loss of innocent lives are deplorable, no matter the situation. No one should die because of where they live, because of lack of medical attention, because of stray bombs, because they tried to go to work, school, or the market.

Without making a stand on paper about the War (because it does not matter what I think to those who wage Wars), I wish to make a stand for the mourning of these innocent people that I will never know. I understand the loss of life and I am full of sorrow for those who no longer are fortunate to have their lost loved one(s) in their lives. I hope that there are more people out there who agree with me than disagree. I would like to think that all Humanity is not lost because of War.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

And they are our leaders?

"We need an energy bill that encourages consumption."
-President Bush, Sept. 23, 2002, Trenton, New Jersey, speech

"If we are saying that the loss of species in and of itself is inherently bad -- I don't think we know enough about how the world works to say that."
-Interior Department Assistant Secretary Craig Manson, appointed by President Bush to position overseeing the Endangered Species Act, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 12, 2003

Buy Nothing Day

Buy Nothing Day

The World Below

You are at 37,000 feet, going over 500 miles per hour in a metal cage. The clouds are below you as you make your way to your vacation, your home, your business trip. You look out of the small porthole window to catch a glimpse of the world below, to watch the topography change the further you go. Below you can see the geometry of farmers, trees forming massive forests, the rivers finding the ways of least resistance as they work towards the ocean, the crinkling of the earth as mountains begin to form. The land below is at work as you race through the air, leaving an exhaust cloud signature in the sky for those below to see.

Evidence that a world outside of you exists as you careen through the sky, causing a sense of smallness within you. To be able to look down and see that a world of trees is living without you is unsettling. There are rivers below that you will never feel run over your feet, mountains that you will never set foot on. Life and the forces of nature are on a steady course miles below your feet and the only thing that you can think of is how insignificant you are.

When you begin to consider how big the world really is and how your life is one of many, it is daunting and so you pull back from the window to catch your breath. You look around at your fellow passengers, longing to feel some sense of significance among the crowd. All you see are people in a hurry to get to wherever they are going, impatient with the turbulence that has prompted the pilot to put on the seatbelt light, grounding everyone to their seats. You glance across the aisle at the businessman reading his paper and notice that his eyes are fixed, not moving to the text.

Your stomach begins to knot as you speed through the air, wondering where exactly you are over the continent. You feel lost as you again take a look outside, hoping to catch a glimpse of some recognizable land formation below. There are more rivers and trees and many other countless things that you cannot see.

There you are in the sky, alone among the crowd, looking down at the world that you are chasing. The pilot breaks the cabin’s white noise to announce the descent of the aircraft and you feel relieved to know that you will soon touch the earth, to become one of the countless many that you just passed over. You anxiously look out of the window as the world grows closer, swallowing you back into its gravity. You await the final hug of the land, longing for the friction of rubber and asphalt, something to let you know that you are ‘home’ no matter where you are.

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