By Pablo Ouziel
True commitment to stopping the war in Iraq requires a global human rights strike, in which the working population of the world stops producing, until the governments and the corporations realize that the voice of the people does indeed matter.
For a while now, I have been thinking about what George W. Bush signifies from a socio-political perspective. Looking at the world from the time of the ‘Big Bang’ of September 11th, 2001, until today almost seven years later, one can clearly observe how monstrous our human interaction has become. After much reading and analysis, I now understand that September 11th was not the starting point of a new world order, but to the contrary, it was purely the end of a specific human state of affairs.
When one grows up in the west, our history books tell us stories about past events in our world. As we grow up, those same stories shape the way in which we look at the world around us. Once this history is indoctrinated into our minds, it frames the scope of our objective judgment. This in turn, leads to a very narrow analysis of our current reality.
As westerners we have the tendency to feel superior to the rest of the human species. Somehow, we have come to believe that our crusades, empires and colonization have led us to a higher understanding of kindness, compassion, love and equality. As westerners, we seem to see ourselves in a higher plane of collective awareness, intellectual and spiritual attainment. I do not doubt for a single minute that in other cultures they have similar prejudices, but I learned from an early age through Christian scriptures, that one must look deep into his or her consciousness, in order to identify mistakes and make corrections. Therefore, for me it is important to focus only on the culture that I know, I live, and that I am an active member of — the western world, as defined by the politicians of the ‘Axis of Good’ who govern us.
We are very comfortable in the west, all of us. Even the most deprived are not as deprived as the whole of Iraq, and by the whole of Iraq, I do mean everyone including the Al Qaeda terrorists, the international soldiers, the Iraqi militias, the possible Iranian insurgents, the government officials, doctors and nurses, contractors, private army operatives, NGO workers, the rich, the poor, the women, men and the children. Nobody there is as good as we are here. Iraq is just one of the many examples of places where the whole population is on its knees as we in the west enjoy our ‘morally evolved’ societies.
People in Haiti are eating mud cakes because of the soaring food prices, the people in Gaza have no electricity, in Afghanistan, the only royal visit they receive, is of a British prince dressed in military gear going to kill on Afghan soil. In India, the farmers are committing suicide due to failed harvests of genetically modified Monsanto crops. Around the world, people are rioting because of lack of food or basic human necessities. Yet in the west, we can move around freely, we can cross borders and fly our budget airlines from capital to capital, observing the comforts of western existence. Organized streets, clean cars, wonderful shopping malls, great monuments, everything is civilized and could be admired, that is, if it was honest. But it isn’t, it is morally wrong and deep down we all know it. We know it, but we just don’t want to do anything about it, because we are comfortable. Only a very small proportion of the population would truly change their position for that of a person in Iraq. I suppose that is why we choose to keep Iraq as a problem of our governments, and the terrorists whom must be eliminated to protect us from ‘evil’.
As westerners, we feel that our commitment to morality and justice is apparent once in a while, with an Anti-War demonstration scheduled in a city for a particular day. We come out to the streets that day, all united, the young ‘Che’ impersonator, holding hands with the 60’s hippy, the businessman who inherited his mother’s company and is well established within his city, the University professor who still holds faithful to her ‘liberal’ values, the working class family which feels that a one day revolution is better than nothing, the yuppie banker, etc… Representations of various segments of our population are present at the event. It lasts a few hours, there is music on the streets, the cameras are filming everything to air it across the television channels of the world. Once the demonstration is over, we all go back to our jobs, we have expressed our concern on schedule and we should not disrupt the system of things any longer. After all, we all have bills to pay, we all must take care of our families or simply ourselves, and there is not that much we can do beyond demonstrations. At least that is the sentiment, which seems to perpetrate from the tragic reality of these events, which although well intended are not truly committed.
True commitment to stopping the war in Iraq requires a global human rights strike, in which the working population of the world stops producing, until the governments and the corporations realize that the voice of the people does indeed matter. If we had the courage to do this, the power would shift automatically from the politicians, bankers and corporations to the majority of the population. This would have been unimaginable just seven years ago, but with the advances in communication technologies and the global mobility of the work force, a global change is plausible.
People in the west however, are generally not interested in change, at the moment. Things are still good. We are having hiccups in our economies and problems in our internal social systems, but these issues are not yet affecting a large enough proportion of our population, in order to get us united. Besides, most people are not fully aware of the connection between the human strife in other countries and the policies of our governments and growth strategies of global corporations. Right now, for most of the west, it would be too cumbersome to focus honestly, on the cruelty which our governments are perpetrating around the world to keep us from loosing our mortgaged style of living.
As speculators are busy speculating with food and commodity prices, causing instant death around the world and indescribable misery, creating a market for ‘blood food’ and ‘blood oil’. We in the west will attribute this failure to a few unwanted elements in our society. It is evident now, that if the west attacks Iran, the western population will pinpoint the blame on George W. Bush. He will then move on, and someone will clean up the mess. The fact remains however, that George W. Bush is indeed serving the interests of America and its allies. Unless the western population is willing to lower its standard of living and cut down on its thirst for natural resources, we are going to fight a perpetual war, defending our privileges and exploiting the basic human rights of others.
For this war, George W. Bush is the right man. However, if we decide that annihilating the rest of the world is not the way to go about it. We must learn to cut back on spending, organize ourselves as tax payers, and begin to demand disarmament from our governments, to pull them out of those apparently “unwanted” wars. Until then, the diamonds in our stores will be bloody, the food in our supermarkets will be bloody and the gasoline at our pumps will be bloody. Washing our hands of the problem will maybe help us in the short-term, but in the long term, we will see that just like in the times of the Nazi’s, our collective hands are tainted with innocent blood.
It is time for the west to accept that although some might hate George W. Bush’s style, he is fighting to guarantee our privileges and is a reflection of our socio-political interests. Let us stop our double standards and begin to look at our reality. A lot of people are dying hoping for some solidarity, yet in the west, we are reluctant to accept responsibility for our cruelty to other human beings.
Pablo Ouziel is a sociologist and freelance writer.
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