Monday, December 29, 2008

Bravery of being out of range

All the Gaza stuff this month (especially in the last few days) makes me feel sad. I know, bad things happen every day, but this issue really strikes at my heart for some reason. I think it's because it's not something I can easily understand. I know a bit about the history of this area, in particular medieval times, but I don't understand the emotions behind today's actions (on either side).

I don't want to talk about the specifics of this issue, but I'm interested in how people respond to it over here. There was a commentator on the BBC, yesterday or the day before, that was berating Israel for doing this during the Christmas season. It's my understanding that neither Jews nor Muslims celebrate the birth of Christ, at least not in the way we do here. This commentator had taken her own values and transposed them onto the situation.

When events like this make me feel disenchanted with the world, I always turn on Roger Walters' album Amused to Death. If you haven't heard it yet, it's well worth a listen. He's the fellow who was in Pink Floyd, well one of them at any rate. This album is about modern society, about modern war, and about all this sort of thing. My favourite message is when he sings about the bravery of being out of range. The weapons we use detach us from the actual effects. We don't experience first hand the devastation a rocket has on a population. Walters suggests that this distance makes it easier to harm each other. When all one has to do is push some buttons, perhaps, this makes it easier to kill than when one stands face to face with their victim and watches them suffer.

I don't think I can understand the emotions of war, in any of it's instantiations, unless I've experienced it. I have no wish to do so; experience it, that is. All the commentators talking about Gaza on the news these last few days were distant from the actual event. Yes, they had an emotional stake in it, but they weren't actually on the ground. They didn't experience it first hand. Yet, they still used their values to judge the actions of those involved. It makes me wonder if I am like that when I watch the news. I try not to be. I'm sad for the lives lost. I'm sad for the tensions between regular people who are just trying to live their lives (my assumption). I'm angry at politics for not fixing the problem and in some ways making it worse. But I have the luxury of being out of range. It's easy to judge what you have never experienced. At least, it's too easy for me to do so.

1 comment:

Josiane said...

I had friends who had to flee Bosnia because of the war - talking with them was the closest I ever got to any war, and yes, it deeply makes you feel that you can't understand. I see myself as someone to whom empathy comes easily, but in that instance, empathy wasn't really possible - I couldn't figure out what it would have been like to be in their shoes. Sympathy, though, was still possible, and I was really happy to be one of their friends at that time when they had to adjust to this country that was new to them and where they had to make a new life.