This post was prompted by the attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. My heart goes out to all of the victims and their families. It’s such a tragedy.
I think Brian May makes some good points in this video.
The only thing violence does is beget more violence. The attacks on 9/11 were horrible. Since I wasn’t part of the planning, I have no idea whether they achieved their aim. The American response was to stand stronger together. It didn’t change the American way of life (except to allow the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act – a horrible invasion of privacy).
What it did do though, is cause the United States to respond with violence. Ultimately, people not directly involved in 9/11 were affected by later attacks by the US. This led to the radicalization of people who may have been sympathetic to the plight of the American people. But, once they saw their families murdered for no good reason, any compassion or empathy they felt for us disappeared. Belief that the US attacks rescue workers to prevent any lives from being saved would lead anyone to hatred. I’m sure that if the situation were reversed, and American rescue workers were targeted, or if it seemed that way, I would be furious. That goes well beyond any called for behavior, even in a war. (Which we were not involved in.)
Violence won’t get us where we want to go. Hell, half the problem is that we don’t know where we want to go. If we’re seeking domination of the world by Western ideology, there will never be a resolution. Americans simply do not have any other perspective by which to judge how governments in other places are run. Our government was founded on the idea of religious freedom. Of course, that was fairly limited in scope since it was essentially one form of Christianity over another, but most of us have extended that idea to all religious beliefs, of the lack thereof. There are those who don’t seem to agree with it, like Marmalade Mussolini, but I don’t believe he truly represents most Americans. (Or, I just desperately want to believe that.)
Because we can’t get our heads around it, we will always want to change it. That is extremely unlikely to happen. For many, a government that is intertwined with religion is the only thing they know. Indeed, it’s the only thing that makes sense when religion is a core aspect of life. Regardless of whether we understand it, that’s how it is.
What we really need is to react with compassion. We need to at least TRY to understand someone else’s perspective. American exceptionalism makes me insane. We act like we’re the best at everything when evidence points to the contrary. We have people who have insufficient health insurance for their needs. Kids graduate from high school barely able to read. Our elected officials have forgotten what it’s like to be just “one of the people” and are acting in their own best interests all the time, to the detriment of probably 98% of the country. Our college graduates aren’t necessarily the world’s leading scientists and researchers. We have open and obvious racism which continues to oppress millions of Americans. We haven’t figured out how to let people be who they are, and want to tell people who it’s right to love and which bathroom to use.
I think I can see where outsiders think we have over-inflated opinions of ourselves. Who are we to judge someone else and tell them how to live?
At some point, to stop the pointless tragedies, someone has to be willing to be the first to say, “This cannot go on,” and move forward with compassion.
I’d like to think it could be us. But our recent election and current behavior leave me gravely concerned that it is not likely to be us.