Iraq: A lesson in desensitization?

 

Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have kicked you around some
Who knows maybe you were kidnapped, tied up,
Taken away and held for ransom
Honey, it don’t make no difference to me
Baby, everybody’s had to fight to be free
You see, you don’t have to live like a refugee

– Tom Petty, from Refugee

50 million refugees in the world, and counting as an army of psychopaths sweeps through Iraq.

I wonder how many people took note of that number if they saw it on their google news page yesterday. How many even knew it was World Refugee Day? Hardly a day of celebration, of course. No holiday for anyone.

And if we did click on a news story about it, how many of us got past the headline or the opening paragraph? How many of us read the whole article — such as this one on the CBC site?

And for those who did read a whole article about the displaced people of Planet Earth, how many were left with a temporary sense of futility before shrugging if off and getting on with their day?

Did anybody actually cry about the situation, besides the displaced people?

How many cry about all the other displaced people on the planet — the homeless who haven’t been displaced by conflict and drought, but who have fallen through the cracks in corners of rich nations, like the United States. Like Canada. Like Quebec. Like Montreal . . .

In truth, nobody living in comfort can be blamed for not carrying the weight of such sorrow on their shoulders. We’re all desensitized to greater or lesser degrees. We have to be, because “the world is a bad place, a terrible place to live,” as that old song — Reflections of My Life — by Marmalade goes. It’s the material world George Harrison sang about while his guitar gently weeped, the school of hard knocks . . .

But this week, I have found myself a little less desensitized than usual with the news — and graphic images — coming out of Iraq. Not that I can do anything about the situation there, but I was moved to write a post here called Eve of Destruction: Still Don’t Believe It?, using quotes from that old Barry McGuire song.

In a watercooler conversation about the Iraq situation with a colleague yesterday, I wondered how anyone could be derailed to such a point that they would commit the sort of murderous atrocities being attributed to members of ISIL — including, apparently, Westerners who have joined up with the group. How did they get to the point at which they became ruthless, psychopathic killers, seemingly without any conscience at all?

“Desensitizing training,” she replied quite simply as she left the lunchroom.

I shook my head. Can everyone actually be desensitized to that point? Could I be?

Well, this morning of the Summer Solstice, as I write these words, I’m thinking about the Eve of Destruction post I wrote the other day, in which I casually mentioned that the United States could nuke Iraq in a few instants . . . if it came down to it . . . if it was necessary . . . and that we could take comfort in that thought . . .

Imagine that.

Desensitized?

Oh, yah.

I could end this post right here, and if you’ve had enough, stop reading and go about your day . . .

But I feel that I need to say a few words about hate. It exists to greater and lesser degrees everywhere in this material world. I’ve been thinking about that since I wrote the Eve of Destruction post, and about how much hate we in the West would have to feel before we nuked Iraq. What is the relationship of hate and desensitization? I suspect they are closely linked.

Would it take another 9/11 before we would become so full of hate, and so desensitized that we could casually wipe out millions of people — most of them innocent, who had nothing to do with the attack on us? What would it take for us to push that button?

Indeed, what would it take for us to stoop to — or below — the sub-human level of barbarism now pushing Iraq back to the stone age?

Sadly, so very sadly, we may find out sooner than later.

*******

One more addition to this post: No doubt, some would point out that religious belief systems play a part in all of this, that ISIL may feel it is on a God-inspired mission. But that’s both a smokescreen and a delusional copout. No real spiritual philosophy supports murderous aggression — with emphasis on the word “aggression.” The underlying principle of all spiritual systems is compassion and love.

But as the Bhagavad’Gita — which is set on a battlefield — points out, sometimes people need to defend themselves from aggressors, sometimes people have to fight to be free.

Krishna also points out that we are all reincarnated, that the spirit is immortal . . . and that we shouldn’t cry for those who seem to die.

More desensitization?

If only we could prove the existence of the spirit, of our immortality . . .

If only we could prove that life is but a dream . . .

Albeit a bad dream for many, but a dream nevertheless . . . from which we will awaken to . . . what . . . pray, tell?

Groceries . . . I need to go buy some groceries if I am to eat dinner tonight.

– Jillian

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