By Saraswati Nagpal
Mar 24, 2016
The pretense of horror is wearing thin. The wide-eyed disbelief at the manifestation of the tiger in the backyard, that’s chowed the pets and is now heading for the kids, is an insult to the collective intelligence of a civilisation that’s made it this far. (Though now that I’ve said that, I’m considering retracting the word ‘intelligence’ because it is becoming alarmingly clear that we have none.) We are fools with silken blindfolds, following the lullabies of lying politicians, sleep-walking us to the cliff-edge of annihilation. We teach our children a history that keeps them blind, and they follow us, iPhones in hand, on this merry trip to the end of the world. We cloak everything in dreamy shades of sophisticated language and nonsensical phrasing. We lie, and are lied to, constantly.
When leaders of the First World (sarcasm dripping on the word ‘first’), incite rebellion and discord in the next resource-rich country they want to pick on, it’s called ‘political instability in the region.’ Playing Iraq against Iran, Saudi against Israel, Afghanistan against Russia, Pakistan against India – these are ‘strategic’ measures. Missiles, carpet bombing, drone-strikes – obliteration – this is how they keep their countries ‘safe.’
In my classroom, we had a simple word for it - bullying.
Whilst we sorrowfully paint our digital faces in the colours of (European) countries, forget to pray for the countries Facebook doesn’t want us grieving for, and vent in indignant articles (such as this one), gleeful cackles echo in boardrooms across the First World as the vaults of corporations overflow with cash. Blood-money. Profit earned by playing the dangerous game of de-stabilisation - profit earned by bullying.
The Middle-East became a play-thing in the hands of economic super-powers, as did South-East Asia. Let’s not even begin with the criminal treatment of Africa. Bullies get what they want, usually by causing extreme trauma and suffering to those that they are bullying.
More terrifying is that in schools and colleges across the world, this blood-thirsty version of progress is taught to young people. It is so easy to forget that what we think of as ‘fuel’ that runs our vehicles, or ‘coal’ that powers our lives, (fill in the blank with any mineral resource) is not just that. It is the blood of women, men and children. It is cities destroyed because a group of well-dressed bullies coveted oil-fields in the region and had to contrive a creative way to own them. It is not simply a business deal. It is allying with societies where human rights are non-existent, perpetuating such behaviour and social constructs.
For those without morals and ethics, perhaps the loss of life and the tragedy of displacement is of no concern, and encouraging radicalisation is perfectly acceptable because it achieves the required goal. The First World is quickly learning that it was easy to skip the lecture on morals and ethics - it is physics that will eloquently phrase the challenge in the end. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
What we sow, we reap, a generation later – and for good measure, for seven generations after. Encourage radicalisation for political and economic goals today, and it will come back to bomb our grandchildren.
No death is easy to accept, by disease or accident or violence. But it is flabbergasting when people say "We will never understand this jihadist attack." Why not? It's really quite simple: Bring up a generation of boys who have witnessed their fathers killed, their families murdered and torn apart in Desert Storm and all that followed it. To whom will they turn for hope? Science? What science? They will go to their (radicalised) priests and they will gather in the prisons they have been thrown into, to find meaning in the madness that has been their lives. And when they are men, they will avenge their brethren. Science plays no role in this affair. Neo-colonialism and its greedy minions got this wheel turning a very long time ago - the day that some governments decided that Progress was for a few, at the expense of the rest. We are simply experiencing it come full circle.
The biggest disservice is how we perpetuate this experience: by teaching our children in schools and colleges that the value of GDP is greater than the value of human life, compassion and the biosphere; and by continuing to evade the top priority at this crucial juncture in human history: human rights and the investment in the safe and healthy enviroment for every child of the world. Give any half-baked teacher a classroom of angry, starved, wounded and grieving adolescents, and she will mobilise a force that will wreck your town. It is not rocket science.
It starts with the children. If we don’t pay attention, it will also end with the children.