Thursday, August 15, 2013
Violence and Death in Egypt – A Personal Lament
The hundreds of Egyptian civilians being killed and grievously wounded in Egypt as a result of the military’s decision to suppress all opposition to its usurpation of political power is the kind of news that causes me considerable mental anguish. The decision to implement the wholesale use of violent aggression and unadulterated military power in order to enforce a particular vision of what should constitute Egyptian values and culture runs counter to reason and will fuel the cycle of retribution and violence that apparently continues to haunt human history.
I believe that the particular issues in this conflict that seem to drive such impassioned feelings are less important than the failure to resolve deep social and cultural divisions through peaceful means. This particular crisis is emblematic of the failure of humanity to more fully utilize the wondrous human capacity for compassion, understanding, reasoned judgment and, most importantly, love. There are many examples of similar conflagrations throughout the human world that mirror this particular crisis. Yet, in spite of this abysmal historic record, the drums of hatred, aggression and war continue to beat and the savagery seems unabated.
There are many reasons for such a societal breakdown that underlie the usual political analysis. Fear plays a dominant role in the dissolution of those ordinary societal constraints that make community possible. Fear is a powerful emotion that can readily kill the intellect. Fear can have numerous origins – when personal safety and security seem threatened; when economic factors make living inordinately stressful; when population pressure is such that everyone must aggressively compete for the basic necessities of life; when a particular set of ideas and principles make peaceful compromise impossible
The great tragedy that seems represent such an integral part of the human experience is that in spite of the vast amount of advanced knowledge and information that typifies the 21st century that should enlighten us, humanity remains rooted in a darkness of its own making. In spite of all the wisdom that can be gleaned from the human experience, humans continue the unabated assault of members of their own species. In spite of all the information that warns of the harm we pose to the natural environment, we continue to endanger the future with our present behavior. In spite of the enumerable voices that echo throughout human history reminding us of our failings, humanity remains rooted in the darkness.
In my mind, all these harsh and unforgiving realities are cause to lament. The questions that inevitably face us as a species are quite simple – are we really smart enough to remain viable in the coming centuries, or will we ultimately fail this evolutionary experiment? Are we collectively up to the challenge of facing divisive global issues with the intent of finding tangible solutions that allow for a peaceful and enduring future for the human race?