Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Blood Was Flowing Like a River

What do we really mean when we say "never again"?

Since the expression came into vogue after the Holocaust, the world has experienced countless genocides, from northern Congo to Cambodia’s killing fields to the Rwandan massacres. We can't seem to stop the killing. Worse, we don't seem to care. Indifference, the real culprit as Elie Wiesel has pointed out, is pervasive and systemic. But what is at the root of it?

Sadly, I fear that it is not so much aloofness as racism that drives this apathy. We are afflcited with the worst kind of prejudice: that which forgives the actions of a group because "they can't help it;" that which condescends to allow immoral behaviour because presumably not everyone can be expected to live up to the white man's morality.

Across Africa, thousands have suffered - murdered, raped, deliberately starved - with barely a blip in the world press. As the conflict continues to claim victims in the Sudan, we change the channel and turn the page. I hate to ask an uncomfortable question, but what is the source of your indifference?

Moreover, I think that for too long, we've made the mistake of allowing "never again" to hover over us like a hypothetical ideal for future age. If "never again" is to have any meaning, it must be reinvented as a call to arms. We must make "never again" mean "not now." And it must apply universally.

See my sidebar for links to information pages, petitions, emails and educational handouts on Darfur and what you can do right now.


Anonymous said...

I trust in the UN to fix everything.

OK, OK, I'm sorry to crack an unfunny joke after such a serious post. However, like Tak writes, I think most of us are waiting for someone else to do something.

It is a sad state of affairs when governments take so long to respond to these tragedies. However, it's a very human response applied at a global level, so it's hardly surprising. The source of the indifference is the same voice that tells you that the guy passed out on the street is "just sleeping" or "just a drunk" or "really OK" because no one else seems concerned. In reality, maybe he just had a heart attack.

Morey Altman said...

Oh, for sure. And sometimes we're just selfish. Y'know, I really do need to get somewhere right away and can't stop to check the 'drunk guy.' But, that's indifference at a local level. It's this nasty willingness to care less about 'the others' that upsets me. Especially when it's ME that's doing it!