In the following commentary on the insidious nature of today’s war and a target oblivious to the assault, ‘you’ represents the general public and in no way singles out any person or group of people in particular.
You can sit there and slide your long fingers down the svelte, slim outline of your new i-Phone 5.
Unleash a tirade about how fugly it looks and lament the death of good design as you do.
You can argue for the significance of the Boson Higgs discovery.
Run kilometres of reasons about why this is a good thing for humankind and place it on par with QR codes in terms of functionality.
You can wax lyrical about how yeast farts can economically power medical pumps that transfer medicines into a patient’s body through a patch.
And whisk out poems on the spot about blade-less stand fans that provide incomparable cooling minus the mess of tiny severed fingers.
You can do all that but the world will still turn the other way.
You mean like ants making headway in their journey to #OccupyCrumb? Sure.
The trouble with modern civilisation is, it happens faster in our imagination that it does in reality. And it unfolds in logical fashion in soft ribbons of fantasy, in the fevered minds of hippie philosophers.
Not that there’s anything civilised about war either, whether cyber, turf or plain old desert playa.
Yes, World War 3 is happening and we don’t even know it. Even if our post modernly suspicious (read: Sept 11) minds suspect so, our necks are craned towards the sky – our eyes searching for crash-test pilots – or hunched over keyboards, our eyes monitoring virus-hunting bots and terrorist code busters.
Decoys, my friends, decoys.
The real battle is happening in our minds, for our minds. So don’t you worry about no M240 Machine Guns or FIM-9 Stinger Missiles. No F22 Raptors or B-2 Spirit Bombers. And don’t you get your firewalls fire-walled over a couple of Internet blackouts by a bunch of rebel hackers.
Why spend all that money when all you need is a camera with a recording function, a couple of willing actors as well as some voice-dubbing facilities? Your sense of superiority and your black-ass heart with its hatred-pumping piston will do the rest, anyway.
Look how it launched that Anti-Islam-Fake-Trailer-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named-Anything-Else – in essence, a bomb so small, it got 4 people killed and a whole world incensed over insensitive bigots even as it refreshed arguments about which is the more brutal religion – Christianity or Islam.
Except you don’t call it a bomb. You call it an insensitive viral video created by an idiot.
The culprit however is a soldier, a warmonger – that’s what he or she is. And we’re in a middle of a war that began long before the Americans set foot in Afghanistan. It’s a war started by small minds and big egos. It’s a war sanctioned by political correctness. It’s a war that justifies violence. And the only thing good it has achieved is sustain a continued appreciation for superhero movies, humanitarian groups and Christmas (or is it now officially called the year end holiday season?)
Who are the small minds? The old lady in Georgia who crotchets and knits for the annual Spring Carnival and Bake Sale in between preaching against homo-devils; the cleric in the upper-room of a shop-lot in Tehran who equates holiness with the mass-murder of all things Western – the occasional extermination of a human being, included; the government officer who reminds people that to continue thriving, one race must protect itself from the other, etc.
Their aroma and agenda are evident in the things they create, too: the book that glorifies science only by ridiculing the religious; the law that protects the irresponsible and the powerful; the blog that unites patrons of bigotry to its cause; the meme, though popular and catchy, that debases one gender at the pleasure of another.
Everyday, our sense of right and wrong is assaulted by bullets of superiority packaged in lies; every minute, our brains are fumigated with propaganda that favours one group over another and then justifies it as an I.O.U one cannot ever repay.
We are engaged in a war of conscience without being conscious of it.
And yes, in a modern civilisation, the protection offered against an imbalance of power (freedom of speech and fundamental human rights) is sometimes abused to endorse wars that erode the very rights we try so hard to safeguard.
Can a minority become so cocky from all the sympathy they’ve received, and the kids’ gloves with which they have been treated, that the same minority becomes the monsters they once charged with bigotry? (Think of some of the African-Americans who today think the world owes them everything, who would resort to fabricating testimonies to accuse a white American of prejudice because a white American is always prejudiced against African-Americans, right?)
Can a minority become so impassioned by the rights owed to them that it demands to be accepted wholesale by the majority lest the majority be accused of religious fanaticism? (Is religion solely to be blamed for the rejection of homosexuality? Regardless of the answer, is reversed-discrimination backtalk justified?)
We live in a highly sensitised world where you could be gifted with a protest outside your home for being so gauche as to call, say, Jennifer Aniston, an actress. (“For crying out loud, she’s an actor even if her acting abilities are questionable!”) A male magazine is scrutinised for alarmingly sexist sentiments and quips before its content is compared in a quasi-academic paper to the lingo employed by hardcore rapists serving term in prison. Meanwhile, it’s Allah for the Muslims and Tuhan for the Christians or you will frigging lose the elections.
We live in a paranoid world that we created ourselves by lifting the hatch for every Tom, Dick and Harriet with a mouth and half a brain to enter and express their opinions. And while the freedom of the people is worth protecting at the price that we’re paying in blood and protests, anarchy and rebellion, we need to repeat this to ourselves (a million times if we have to):
Murder is wrong and it doesn’t matter whether you’re religious, apologetic, homophobic, allergic, acerbic, realistic or retarded.
Being granted immunity and a reduced sentence because you’re somewhat impaired does not make murder less wrong, either.
Sure, that Anti-Islam-Fake-Trailer-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named-Anything-Else was made by an abomination to humankind who knew how to stir the crazy out of a section of extremely zealous Muslims.
Sure, they were painted to look every bit as psychotically evil as many had believed them to be after the twin towers fell.
Sure, they were essentially victims of a hate crime.
But that small group of them were victims who eventually responded also out of hatred with a crime against four innocent people.
So while they deserve some empathy as a whole, the group in question also deserves to be tried on the law against murder – a law that, last I checked, is universal, barring parallel religious legal provisions and interventions, of course.
It’s unfortunate that, for hardline Muslims, a damning video made by one person, is seen as a wrongdoing by an entire race (“It’s okay, a strike against any American is a strike against the culprit we know is surely American!”) Are Muslims so special that they can kill anyone who discriminates against them without any backlash or criticism? It’s the same question I would ask about my fellow Christians if lived in the time of the Crusades. I know the two most popular religions in the world – Christianity and Islam – preach exclusivity to some extent (these days, this depends on who gives the sermons) but this seems to go against their individual and respective teachings on humility and acceptance of others. There can be no peace in the preaching of exclusivity, only war.
War, my brothers and sisters, war and nothing less.
The kind that robs us of our sight so that what we see is not what is necessarily the full picture, the kind that injures our sense of judgment by dulling us to the tune of populism or tradition, the kind that turns us against one another even as we rationalise our positions with the cockiness that comes with knowledge – limited to the scope that serves us but no less inflating, discriminating or condescending.
This is a war that keeps our world in reverse trot even if all signs – frivolous or otherwise – point to the contrary. Modern civilisation is shackled by hauntings from the past and hallucinations about what needs to be done in the future, sometimes, trapped by the need to create win-win situations. Yet everybody can’t win because in a balanced world, the bad guys are supposed to lose. We’re too busy assuming everyone’s innately good and making provisions to facilitate their goodness, even if it’s as twisted as the horns of the devil. Where’s discernment, folks?
Tragedy waits at every corner and crevice of our backward waltz but so does a new invention of unbeatable cool and convenience promise to explode in the market.
So, go ahead.
Thank the gods of technology as you cut another Gangnam style video for your friends with a click of your mouse.
Celebrate the electric car.
Pat yourself on the back for having watched the world’s first holographic concert featuring Lady Gaga.
You can sprout wings overnight and fly for all it’s worth but you can’t stop the world from reversing, from being swallowed in your own insatiable importance.
No, that one, only a collective of lucid minds can do. Minds guarded against the need to dominate, minds unfettered by semantics or any goal other than to march forward, inch by inch, in wisdom.
(Featured image accompanying article on main page, courtesy of Steven Roe, source: http://bit.ly/OTlWWF)