Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Absurdity of Violence

I have so many sad thoughts running through my brain after yesterday’s attack on a military school in Peshawar, Pakistan. Most of them are surface thoughts, mourning for the loss of life and the feeling of fear that must be in the air for families, for children going to school, for teachers who put their lives in danger by just going to work. The deeper thoughts run to the absurdity of war, of “conflict,” of targeted attacks and drones and the ongoing back-and-forth in so many parts of the world.

“We want them to feel our pain,” said one Taliban commander as a justification for the attack.

Well of course you do. Regardless of your politics or religious beliefs, you are human and you feel pain. And the relentless attacks on North Waziristan have most likely caused much collateral damage.

Instead of contemplating that statement (which I only heard on one news outlet one time despite the nearly constant coverage of this incident), the Pakistani government – no doubt with a significant amount of support from our country – retaliated almost immediately, sending air strikes to Taliban strongholds.

Rather than answering for the innocent women and children they have killed and the “tens of thousands” they have displaced, the Pakistan military decided to take it up a notch.

Let me be clear. Nobody is right here. This continued escalation of violence with no nod whatsoever to the loss of life, the impotence of the entire endeavor, the impossibility of the stated goal (Pakistani Prime Minister has said that they will keep fighting until “terrorism is rooted from our land”) can only serve to further entrench both sides. There is no weapon that can secure peace. I know that there is no simple solution, but I do know that this is no solution at all. It feels to me like two teenage boys punching each other in the arm.

“Take that!”

“Oh, yeah? Well I can punch harder than that. Take that!”

“That’s nothing. Here, how does that feel?”

Eventually, one of them will get tired of the one-upmanship or too hurt to go on, but if they’re mad enough, they might come back with a different weapon later on. And what has been proven? The one with the most might is not necessarily the one who is right.  Continued escalation of violence, state-sanctioned or not, falls under the definition of insanity as far as I’m concerned. How long will we continue to take this same approach to no avail before we acknowledge that it isn’t working? And how many more people have to die during the learning curve? War is a failure of imagination, of creativity, of willingness to find other solutions. We can’t lose much more by stopping the violent attacks and trying something else than we already are by escalating things.

In the meantime, I will continue to breathe in suffering and breathe out compassion. I will feel their pain, the suffering on all sides of this issue. Someone has to.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Your breathing sounds very much like tonglen, and I am glad to be reminded that this simple practice is sustaining.

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