Thursday, October 23, 2008

It is time!

“During my whole existence I’ve learned not to take anything about human beings for certain but two things: they fear and they die.” This quote, shamelessly stolen from a Reverte novel I couldn’t ever drop a few years ago, sums up my stand on how the world works like nowadays and how it’s worked right since the very beginning. As much an avid reader as I was already back then, I can’t really say I managed to fathom its whole meaning at the time nor understand how much a precise instrument it was to give an explanation as to why these dreadful things happen amongst our species.

I’ve always regarded race, country of origin, religion, gender, ideology and sexuality as irrelevant details, never enough by any means to justify human actions. My belief is that deep beneath that surface lies the very same thing on all of us. Thus, considering these things at all when it comes to analysing somebody’s behaviour leads to nothing but cheap generalising and random stereotyping. Wondering whether the criminal belonged to a Muslim terrorist group, whether the victim was female, whether somebody committed crimes on behalf of an ideology or the opposite is, again, stating the unnecessary, as it all comes down to the same: human beings affecting other human beings’ lives, simple as.

So we got warmed up by stating human beings fear. But let’s be more precise. What is it, exactly, that frightens our species up to the point where we can be found slaughtering each other and showing no contempt whatsoever? We fear the uncertain. We fear insignificance. We fear complexity, we dread living in a world where there is no great scheme, no glorious purpose, no truth other than our own mundane death, a world where being narrow-minded never ever leads to understanding. We would rip through whole nations rather than having to admit how similar their inhabitants are to us, that’s how great our fear is.

What, in their infinite arrogance, do human beings choose to do to put an end to that unavoidable fear? They do what’s expected of them. They split the world population into two categories: (Of course, any more complexity would ruin the whole thing) On the one hand, there’s those whose mentality is alike to ours. On the other, the rest. Six thousand millions souls reduced to playing two roles: on our side and on the opposite. And there’s nothing in between, there’s no forgiveness for those who may not share ultimately every single of our views. They are simply not worth it. And now that fear is temporarily kept at bay, we can safely breathe again, for this world is no more than a two-sided age-old great war and lucky as we are, we happen to be on the winning side. So behold, those who dare stand against us, for our cause is always the righteous one.

Religion is a convenient, home-made instrument that’s helped people gain power – and keep it through centuries – for all our history. Not only does it provide us with a goal in our otherwise shallow existence but that goal is also very clear: exterminate, annihilate, oppress and discriminate every single person that’s defiling our order of things. Worship a plain, rather badly written book – forgetting that books have all a human hand behind their creation - and take its word as law. Now there’s no uncertainty, there’s no complexity, there’s heaven and there’s hell, there’s a code of conduct for either of them. Why would anybody go through the effort of actually acquiring values and ideas on his own when there’s a chance to have them fed to him by somebody who’s curiously eager to do so? Who’s got the courage to stand alone in an attempt to find his own way, with all those soft, soul-caressing voices giving us a goal in life and a sense of community? So yes, it’s understandable to see people rush to religion’s arms. Understandable, yes, but not any less condemnable.

To move onto something concrete, it makes me chuckle to watch our over-aged, good intentioned but as it goes, useless Europe pointing its righteous, accusing finger at the Muslim nations and claiming they're to be held fully responsible for terrorism. "They've shut themselves up and said no to progress. Their culture got stuck at a past age never to move on again, their whole society is pushed to either causing terrorism directly or supporting it indirectly because of the brainwashing performed by a very few, cunning minds who are behind it all. Bunch of zealots, all of them" - thus claims the right-wing propaganda, resorting as per usual to their successful strategy, the one that earns them most votes: drawing an apocalyptical picture, injecting sheer panic in society's veins so as to be able to keep it under a steel grip.

How fortuitous, how convenient that we can rely upon such wonderful scapegoat, how lucky of us to be able to count on Islam as the explanation to all our international disasters: terrorism and wars as a whole, the decay of our occidental – hence, superior – traditional values and culture, not to mention the increases in fuel pricing. We couldn't possibly have foreseen a better solution to our biggest problem as a society: how to place Europe in front of a mirror without covering our face in shame, how to dodge the uncomfortable truth that we've played an important role with regards to bringing the so-called third world down to its current situation of havoc and misery.

And indeed we have. We've entered their nations without ever asking for permission and used them as though our private battlefield for us to put our worthless war schemes into practise. Most of those countries are basically swimming in petrol which, given how much of a necessity it is nowadays, should have translated most logically into an incredible wealth. But no, eager as we are to stick our occidental hands up everyone else's business, we sign contracts worth millions with a few lucky native hands and as a result none of that wealth ever reaches the majority of the population. We've contributed like no one to openly steal natural resources which never belonged to us to begin with – and we dare ever claiming that immigrants from those countries choose to come to Europe to be mere robbers? To be truthful, if being a thief was really the crime in question, taking into account how much of those countries' wealth we've leeched through our juicy deals, Europe would be the right mother of thieves.

So forsaken as are now from the oh-so-respectable steed where us Europeans like to place ourselves as the morally superior, progress-embracing civilisation, we have no other choice than putting ourselves, for the first time being, in their shoes. A well simple, yet uncomfortable exercise of human empathy we should have considered decades ago. So let’s imagine for a moment that due to a stroke of misfortune our lives took place in Kerbala, Iraq. Our day would start bidding our children farewell as they leave home and aim their steps towards school. Imagine being uncertain that they’d actually make it home without a bomb blowing them up on their way back. Imagine being unable to provide your family with a shelter, with food and protection. Imagine that upon taking a look at your own future, you found nothing but famine and destruction. Imagine how powerless it feels to know that every dreadful thing that’s happened to you escaped to your control, that your life is worth nothing and as such likely to end mercilessly at any second and nothing you can possibly do will change that.

So yeah, my dear occidental nations, imagine the nonsense to try and find a reason to live for under such circumstances. Stare at your own reflection and have the cheek to claim that if you were put in their shoes, you’d act any differently. Can you possibly be naïve enough to believe that under such pressure, you wouldn’t rush to the arms of whoever promised you eternal salvation first? There’s no possible doubt that you would since, as we stated on the beginning, underneath all that self proclaimed occidental culture, civilisation and rationality remains the very same thing as those Iraqi families. Somebody who fears. And it’s not mere fear what was described on the paragraph above, it’s raw, unadulterated panic. Oh yes, of course you would. You’d listen to their incendiary speeches, swallow every single word from them and take it as law, you’d also let zest and fanaticism take control of your life and finally you would sure as hell know who deserves to take the blame for the torment your life has become. As it has been said countless times before, there’s nothing more fearsome than a man who’s got nothing to lose, nothing worth fighting for, for he then loses all concern for his own life and is likely to risk it.

So Europe can’t slack behind with the excuse that it’s not worth ever discussing with somebody who embraces terrorism. While that would hold some truth in another situation, it doesn’t in ours because to put it simply, those terrorists owe their existence to us. Their attacks are usually but the response to our own previous aggression, be it military or economical. We have helped them arm themselves to the teeth for decades, favouring the existence of dictatorships and pushing one against another to battle as though our gladiators so we could profit by providing either side with war material – the 8 years long war between Iran and Iraq in the 80’s comes to mind – and now we dare declare ourselves surprised at all for them reacting back in a hostile manner?

In short, we’ve contributed to creating this two-faced monster like no one else and one does not help bestiality spawn in the world and then refuses to take any responsibility for it. It’s about time we assumed that we’re the only valid scapegoat to be blamed for all the violence and if we regard that as unfair we should’ve thought it better before rushing into their countries and messing with their affairs, for we had no right whatsoever to do that.


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