The antiquity of War matches that of Man’s sojourn on this planet. It would take any secondary level school student to tell how you how plagued he is about the umpteen wars fought for seemingly the same old causes- over and over and over again. We never learn do we? But then the terrible truth is that life will keep dishing out the same lesson to us until we actually learn from it- so, a bird’s eye view of facts will reveal that we continue to challenge life’s untiring efforts to school us about War.
Sitting far away from the blazing, under siege cities- settlements that was home, school, playground, hospital, shop, and everything else that one associates with living-, we are safely ensconced in the false security of our existence. We watch with horror, or with vindication, the nameless, faceless dead bodies on our flat screens, we munch on our snacks and talk about the cause of war gravely, before moving onto the earthquake that shook the earth, or a scandal that can topple a government. We do that, I do that, so do you. But the War comes home when we take sides. The War may not be mine, the War may not be yours, but we must and we do take sides. This is the plan- this is the most effective plan- because if we take sides, we presume indirectly that one lot of people are more disposable than the other lot. That helps the opinion makers, the spin doctors, the ones who create realities for the world.
Opportunities of expressing opinions are the indicator of the democratic culture that we all aspire to cultivate. That is fine and dandy- the thing to do, and of course, an inalienable human right. But what about the inalienable rights of the killed- on both sides of the divide…? When people die, when lives, hopes, promises, love is snuffed out, who survives? Who thrives?
I recall my television screen airing snippets of how Baghdad was bombed in time for the prime time newscast in America-for me that day, the war had come right home. Today, Syria exists in newsbytes in my living room, and so does Gaza. Sudan, Rwanda, and of course, our Kashmir and theirs, the Rohingyas all come in and leave, trailing their now recognisable scent of dust, blood and smoke. The flickering screens of millions of pixels, developed to catch the most subtle of nuances of hues of the world- have little work to do in repeatedly flashing the bright dark reds of blood stained clothes, the murky browns of ruins, the never ending smokey greys of the still air all around and the lifeless black of deadened eyes… the War comes right home to us…
So where do we go from here? Our homes were built to be havens, refuges from the world but war has walked right in- intruding upon our claims to be humane. Today, our sensibilities are like those bombed out cities that are poor remnants of what they used to be;our sense of outrage at the killing and violence has been numbed by the acceptance that this is the way the world operates; our eyes unflinchingly view the crying faces, bleeding bodies, bereaved families…We are much lesser than what we used to be, and we are losing more and more of our soul with every passing day.
This post stems from my anger and fear at what we are doing to ourselves. We are taking sides- whose side are we on actually? We are choosing death over life, shadow over substance- and deluding ourselves that this violence is necessary to end all violence. Which War has ever ended all wars?
My tears are shed for those children caught in the misery of War- that robs them of everything, including their right to live and die in their own time. Today, War targets the kids- they are going, one by one, and with them they are taking the laughter and the song, the present and the future- till we will be left like a band of Tithonus-like humans, doomed never to die, playing with shadows on a beach in the grim sunset of the world.