In the arena of international relations, ‘friends’ seem to be defined as whomever is on the other side of those who are perceived as ‘enemies”. The people of Ukraine, who have been getting pulverized for the past year, by constant bombing of the only places they have to live, are ‘friends’ of the US government because an ‘enemy’ is trying to absorb their land.
Since last Saturday, the people of Palestine have been getting pulverized and cut off from water, food, and electricity, because America’s ‘friend’, the Israeli government, is driven by a rage with fear at its heart. There are many connections between the peoples of Israel and America, but U.S. support of Israel’s move to obliterate Hamas, with the people of Palestine as collateral damage, is in support of a ‘friend’ amidst a sea of ‘enemies’.
The mainstream media is careful not to be too critical of our ‘friends; but we are seeing pictures of apartments and hospitals reduced to rubble, inflicted in days instead of the months it took for Russia to create such devastation in Ukraine. Ukraine has an army that represents the will of its people to survive. Palestine has no government of any kind, with which it could have created an army for its own defense.
The daily mainstream news treads a path between images that show the horror that is happening and the official winnowing of friends from enemies. Meanwhile other acts of carnage, occurring closer to home, do not receive this careful consideration of the larger context in which they occur.
When a shooter travels across state lines with his (always his) automatic weapon, and backpack stuffed with ammunition clips, in order to slaughter his enemies, as defined within his conditioned view of human diversity–wherever they are shopping, attending school or worshipping–there is little if any impulse to understand and possibly address, the cramped thinking, mental illness, and easy access to weapons of mass destruction, that make such devastation possible.
These mass shooting don’t receive a defense in mainstream media, although the right to be armed with mini-machine-guns does have its ardent supporters. In the aftermath, it is often found that the man who killed as many of his perceived enemies as he could, before turning his weapon on himself or getting riddled with bullets from law enforcement weapons, had been reaching out in search of a community that would consider him a hero who was defending the rights of his kind. Sometimes the perpetrators have composed a manifesto of intention, as if to emulate the international treaties of cooperation that are invoked to justify national policies, which take life on a far more massive scale.
If you’re like me, you watch it all from a vantage point where no bombs are falling from the sky and no blockade is starving us of water, medicine, energy and food. Since I am able to live in a part of the world where porch pirates and an occasional rock thrown through a windshield are the extent of my vulnerability to the waves of disaffection and anger raging across our planet, I can’t begin to imagine myself holding my child, who has just lost her mother and siblings, on my lap, my own face coated with ash and despair, telling her: “It’ll be alright”.
Perhaps I can at least recognize that my fear of what will come next in my own life is the luxury of someone who has been spared the tsunami of pain against which so many of my fellow human beings have no seawall to protect them.
Perhaps out of this awareness, I can find the courage to hold my grief for our world until it drives me to join forces with those who are working to protect our planet, working to restore the imbalances we have already caused, and who honor in themselves the knowledge that, as part of a living world, we can’t survive unless we return to giving back more than we take from the living planet that has given birth to our breathing bodies and caring hearts.