Most of us have seen the photograph of an innocent child who ended up lifeless on a beach for no fault of his own. His death was the result of a battle determined by adults, powerful nations and warmongers. This photograph was shared widely, touching the sentiments of anyone who knows what the innocence of a child is. As a world, we probably felt as much pain when more than 130 children were massacred at a school last December, underlining how barbaric humans can be.
Those children, most likely, were clueless about the politics of war and the history of terrorism, apart from snatches of information gleaned from the media and adult conversations at home. What had they done wrong other than go to school and be their parents' children? What were they guilty of? Could they be faulted for the acts of the past generations that allowed a small group of trained killers to grow into an army that was earlier a pawn for certain nations and is now a problem of the world?
"A cricket match is now a grudge or revenge game -- words once used for war and violent acts, not for sports."
As we mourn these deaths, light candles, post one-liners on social networks, turn our profile pictures into black dots and squares, we may satisfy our guilt of not being able to do enough. We may even follow past patterns of not wanting to know the truth that goes beyond the deaths of the thousands who die in an increasingly violent world. We may continue to assume that only acts of violence are criminal, but not the provocation or the politics, economics and socio-cultural conditionings that lead to it.
Back in 1963, Bob Dylan wrote one of his most contentious songs, "Masters of War", where he spelt out the devastating game of the defence industry and governments: "You fasten all the triggers for the others to fire, and then you sit back and watch when the death count gets higher." He goes on to write, "You've thrown the worst fear, that can ever be hurled, fear to bring children into the world."
Since then and before, violence in one form or the other has grown in our lives. Common to each form has been erosion of life as society watches and then turns a blind eye, becoming a part of the act. It could be as "mundane" as the chemicals in our food poisoning us slowly. We let the media abuse innocence and peace in the name of knowledge and freedom, as people get caged in their rhetoric and truths that often go unverified. We let all this grow until regulation is not even possible.
Similarly, patriarchy's violations seem almost normal to those who suffer, until the abuse of a woman turns into an unimaginable act of crime. Yet, we will not force a change as commerce revolves around the existing structure. So many industries -- advertising, film, fashion, retail -- thrive on the bedrock of old ideals. If the status quo changes, these industries would have to pay a heavy economic price.
Even what is mainstream and what is not are violent divisions that embrace some and deny others, all in the name of fair-play, merit and market economics. The pain inflicted on the ones who are not embraced, for some reason, is not seen as violent (the creators of the matrix of merit, success and failure never had inclusion as the primary vision anyway). This is like assuming that the many stares and glares that a woman endures mean nothing since she had not yet been touched or physically abused, with no scars to show. Who has the time, after all, to read, assess and feel the scars that she has in her heart and soul? Who knows what it is to be hunted out of a system of so-called "merit" that is largely driven by a singular idea of success that wages a war against humanity every day?
"It is amazing how we are ready to ban marijuana, ban porn, allow crony capitalism and so many other things but not ban weapons that create mass destruction."
Written words have also changed. A cricket match is now a grudge or revenge game -- words once used for war and violent acts, not for sports. When such serious words are woven into trivial day-to-day usage, the measure of violence has obviously grown into something else. You need bigger acts and more people dying or suffering before it is noticed. It is like layering your face with skin whiteners, not knowing that you have destroyed your original face with steroids that violently ate into your skin. But no one will say a word since there is no bloodshed. Nor is it possible to see the pains of inferiority inflicted by a society that discriminates between skin tones. This is just another example of the violence so many live with!
It is amazing how we are ready to ban marijuana, ban porn, allow crony capitalism and so many other things but not ban weapons that create mass destruction. We don't wish to ban and arrest nations and individuals who encourage the sales of such weapons, funders who create user groups and then let them grow into sizeable disasters. We don't care about banning corporations who borrow from the market and then collapse on innocent people, tripping literally over a target called greed and ambition. We live in a world where the producers of unhealthy products blame the consumer for their worsening health. You need to exercise, they'll say. That translates into gym bills and "restraint" since advertising that influences is not equated with force and mind games.
No wonder then that selling weapons is perfectly fine as no one forced you to buy those products and how you use it is your responsibility, not of the manufacturer, the agent, the media, the judiciary or the government.
As we move forward as people and a world, it is important to see the big picture, join the dots and make sense of what is happening, however disgusting it might be. Let us never ever forget that every child is not merely born, she or he is the result of a bond and possible commitments of life and not of death, of peace and not of violence, of nature and the natural, of love and togetherness, not hate and divisiveness. It all goes down to what's being sold, the influences, the pretensions and the truth. If we have to wage a war, it should be for these values and needs, not for governments, countries, religions or industries.