Dude, where’s my humanity?

December 15, 2012

A year after the September 11th terrorist attacks Indian author and activist Arundhati Roy gave a speech and I have kept a part of that speech with me ever since:

Since it is September 11 that we’re talking about, perhaps it’s in the fitness of things that we remember what that date means, not only to those who lost their loved ones in America last year, but to those in other parts of the world to whom that date has long held significance.  This historical dredging is not offered as an accusation or a provocation.  But just to share the grief of history.  To thin the mist a little.  To say to the citizens of America, in the gentlest, most human way: welcome to the world.

And for a short while as a country we mourned and we shared the grief of history, and there was a feeling that maybe we would get it. But we didn’t get it. Instead of what should have been a time for introspection and deep reflection we lashed out. We became fearful and insular and destructive. We stomped on the ideals that made our country great and became a beacon not of freedom and liberty, but of blind nationalism and venomous jingoism. We waged wars that continue to this day that have killed thousands upon thousands of innocent people, many of them children.

In the Gospel of Matthew it is written, “Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Violence begets violence and because of the cycle it perpetuates, it is not isolated to far away places where it can be conveniently ignored. Instead it manifests itself in the all too common, all too tragic events like the murder of twenty school children this morning. And we throw up our hands in despair every time this occurs, and we ask ourselves, “How could this have happened?” And our president goes on television and weeps. And much hand wringing ensues and politicians bloviate and religious charlatans claim God struck down those poor children because we don’t allow prayer in school. Each time this happens we lose a little piece of our humanity.

My history is one of loss. And while I cannot cry for my own pain, I weep for the families left behind and futures that never were. I see pictures from Connecticut or from Northwest Pakistan and I see the grief on a father’s face as he holds his child’s bloody body and I am heartbroken.  I know what the pain of loss feels like and I feel it deeply for each and every one of these families, regardless of what country they reside in. And I wonder how we can let violence reach those who should be the most protected. And I think about how much those father’s have in common, how they are connected by tragedy, how we are all connected by these tragedies. And if it were possible for each of us to realize our humanity and to, even just for one minute, practice empathy and hold another’s pain as our own, that maybe there would be reason for hope.  

In the coming days I fear that our leadership will prove themselves to be the cowards they are. For to answer the question of how this could have happened would require a frank and honest reflection that America is currently incapable of. Instead, while the victim’s families attempt to pick up the pieces, the partisan bickering will commence and each side will accuse the other of politicizing a tragedy, and the twenty four hour cable channels will feed off the pain and then the holidays will come and go and, like every other similar tragic event, our attention span will wane and it will fade into memory.  Nothing will change and In a matter of hours, days, weeks, or months more children will be blown up or shot or killed in some other unimaginable way and the cycle of violence will continue.

And with each of these events, in the most horrific, most crass way, we say to the citizens of the world: welcome to America. 


One Response to “Dude, where’s my humanity?”

  1. wayne1112 Says:

    indeed/ couldn’t agree ,more. Thanks

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