Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Drought of Compassion in Our World

It rained on the day that I wrote this piece. We needed that rain; the grass all around had turned a brownish green. It was reported that the rainfall deficit for the preceding month was just under four inches. It started raining overnight, and the system that brought this well-needed relief continued its presence for the next few days. With these well needed showers there was renewed hope for everything that grows, the grass included. We all enjoy sunny days, but no one wants a protracted drought under the influence of which things wilt…and die. The period without rain has run its course, and we look forward to saying goodbye to the themes of wilting and dying which have predominated in the experience of many.
All over the Globe that we share we are witnessing what seems to many to be an interminable drought of reasonableness and compassion. The season of wilting and dying is expressed in the suffering, displacement, and killing of many.Thousands of men, women, and children, have had their lives shattered as a result of heated conflicts that seem to have no end in sight. The need for showers of hope to green again the scarred landscape of war-torn countries is acute. This is the reality in Iraq and in Syria, in Nigeria and in the Central African Republic, in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, in Kinshasa and in Libya… the list of places goes on and on.
The number of dead from these conflicts in just the last year exceeds a quarter of a million people. All over Asia and Africa and Europe, people displaced by these conflicts are on the move daily in desperate search of a place where they can again hope for some stability for self and kin. Their collective desperation is exacerbated by a drought of workable ideas among those who lead. This desperation is worsened by a drought of moral rectitude on the part of those who see war as the only solution. Combined with a drought of economic opportunity in the circumstances created by strife, multitudes come to believe they have no choice but to succumb to their role as victims.
There are no easy answers to the dilemma we face, much as we would like there to be. Digging into the anatomy of conflict is an exercise in exploring the uncomfortable underground of the human psyche. The motivations of the primary actors in the tragic dramas of death and destruction are at times perplexing, as perplexing as the contradictions in the human psyche itself. What moves us to act out our abrasiveness in the tragic ways that we do? At what point in the experience of being human do we settle for the idea that it is ok that “the good suffer with the bad”? Where in the dark recesses of our consciousness do we build an existential monument to the idea that it is acceptable to blow up women and children? What kind of person chews on the roasted limb of some creature while he wallows in the blood of innocents? What kind of human being virtualizes rape, and murder, and the conscienceless exploitation of those who can’t or won’t defend themselves? What kind of human-being “brands” another, marking him or her for ruthless exploitation? At some point, as individuals and as societies, we must face these questions with the force of a civilized morality. We must face them with a view to effectively resolve the many contradictions in our ways of seeing things.
Not all villains roam around the earth as bloody brutes. Some indeed present themselves as “respectables” among us. They sit on the boards of giant corporations. They occupy the halls of our congresses and parliaments. They are the genteel-appearing bastions of industry that many idolize in ignorance. Instead of the cliched fatigues of brutes, they wear the teflon suits that appeal to the superficial sensibilities of many among the masses. But, by their deeds we know them. They deliberately reduce workers to chattel by refusing to pay a fair return for work done. They build their estates at the expense of the lives of impoverished workers. They bask in the glow of material “success” while the masses are left to scrounge for the “crumbs” that fall from their tables. In many instances they appear to keep their hands clean while they harvest the “blood diamonds” of an iniquitous underworld. They share one particular feature of the human experience with tyrants and warlords… Heartlessness. They don’t give a damn about anything or anyone except themselves and their brash ambitions. What they are not prepared for is the coming flood... A deluge of compassion that will usher in the establishment of a more humane world. That day will come.

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