Thursday, July 07, 2005

This new reality

These images are taken from AP. In this one, theoretically, you can see the blown-off top of the double-decker bus lying across the roadway.

First thoughts on hearing about the London bombings on my way to work--it's sad, and even wrong, to attribute more human significance to this than to what happens in Iraq every day, and yet if two people are killed in bombings in Iraq, it barely makes the news anymore. This event is newsworthy because of its location. If modes of transportation and people are blown up in Iraq, or Libya, or Afghanistsan or Uganda, it's not news, not like this. We are all human, first and foremost. Whether we're born and we die in London or Baghdad, in the end, doesn't matter.

We call this event newsworthy because it makes us much more afraid if it happens in London than if it happens in Mosul. Because it's near us. Because we take public transportation, or we live in a western city, or wear the same style suit, or the dead speak the same language we use every day to communicate what's inside us to what's outside us. People die in Iraq, and it ceases to affect us. People die in London, and we're afraid, because we identify with them more.

And we're afraid because we allow ourselves to forget that we're not immune to the poor foreign policy choices of our governments, and things like this remind us. People don't attack and kill innocent other people because they hate their "way of life," or their "freedoms." They attack and kill for leverage, for revenge. They attack and kill because they feel it justifies past wrongs. Attacks like these are planned out; they're not hot-headed moments of passion. This implies that the people who perpetrated them have been nursing serious, insidious grudges for extended amounts of time. What happens to you when you hold something like that close to you, when you allow it to eat away at you until your capacity for logical thought has run its course and you're left acting only on emotion? You lose the ability to determine what is a logical move to make the pain stop, and what is an illogical, harmful one. And you commit an evil act. You man plan it for days, or weeks, or even years, thinking you'll feel better after it's over.

I have to wonder where the people are now who did this. Did they go out drinking, celebrating the success of their revenge? As of this point, it's not clear yet whether these were suicide bombs or timed ones. A group identifying itself with Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility on a website, but it hasn't been confirmed. Are the bombers dead, or are they satisfied? Do they feel any regret that the people they've killed haven't actually directly harmed them at all, are in fact completely innocent of doing the bombers personal wrongs? Or have their minds been warped so far by the lust for revenge that they percieve it in a way we'll never understand? It's likely that they feel that the people who voted the current powers-that-be into office are just as guilty as those in office who are making foreign policy decisions that the bombers feel are injurious to them. So they attack the "perpetrators" they can get to. They attack the people on the street.

In America, most of us don't believe we'll personally be the victims of terrorist attack, that we'll have a gash cut into our forehead on the way to work when the bus we're riding blows up, or that someone we know will die at the hands of terrorists. But anyone who is affected at all by news stories about terrorist attacks is a victim. Our pain may not be anywhere near as immediate or real as the pain of someone who lost a limb or a loved one in an attack, but it is there. We're all victims of this, of living in this reality. The consequences of governmental actions are very, very real. No matter which way you vote, or even don't vote, your choices are affecting what happens. Things like this make me understand the gravity of going to the polls with as much knowledge as I can gather about the candidates in an election; their decisions will affect me and the people I love.

We are all human.


At July 07, 2005 9:44 AM, Anonymous E said...

Well said, J. I may link to this, if it's okay with you. I couldn't say it more articulately.

At July 07, 2005 10:55 AM, Blogger J. Star said...

Link away!

At July 07, 2005 11:08 AM, Anonymous Heather said...

Hello! You moved far away! I've just spent half the morning catching up on blogs, haha. Sooo many comments, but if I posted them all it would go for pages. It's good to be back though! Absolute favorites... Beanisty, and the picture of your gallbladder. Absolute most sickening, your Read More option about the kid sent off to reprogramming camp. Unbelievable.


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