Saturday, February 17, 2024

I'm On the Side of Civilians

This week I was talking with a friend who made an interesting statement. "I'm not Conservative or Liberal, Republican or Democrat... I'm on the side of Civilians."

This resonated with me. And it reminded me of a statement I heard last fall: "The problem is the Bureaucrats." In fact, I heard that statement twice in two days, from different sources.

Whether it's Ukraine or Gaza, Israel or Somalia, it's apparent that the decisions made by those who wield power are going to have consequences that impact the powerless. America alone has been bombing countries since the beginning of World War II. The world was horrified by Guernica, a civilian village in Spain bombed by fascists during the Spanish Civil War, yet in how many times and places has this bombing of civilians taken place? 

America alone has bombed China, Korea, Guatemala, Indonesia, the Congo, Peru, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Libya, Bosnia, Sudan, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. American bombs and missiles are being generously supplied to Israel to destroy Gaza. In many of these cases we claim to have been liberators. I'm curious what the civilians whose homes have been pulverized have to say about all that. 

At the end of Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness, Kurtz, a central character who has descended into madness in the heart of Africa, utters these memorable, haunting words as he reflects on the darkness and depravity he has encountered: "The horror! The horror!"

The statement encapsulates Kurtz's profound realization of the moral corruption and brutality that he has witnessed and participated in during his time in the Congo. It's all the more ironic because he is the one who supposedly came from a "civilized" culture. Ultimately Kurtz serves as a chilling commentary on the human capacity for evil and the consequences of unchecked power and imperialism. 

While headlines herald the machinations of the powerful and the elites, let's not forget the civilians. At the end of the day one must continue to ask, "What about the people?"  

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