I ran across a video today where a man was burned alive, supposedly for being a thief. This wasn’t an old video, rather quite recent. I could not bring myself to hit play and become a witness to the very real atrocity of man against man. I’m not going to link to it either. I have no doubt it can be found, if you really want to become a witness to the horrific death of a human being at the hands of a mob.
This is 20011, nearly 2012. This was a grim reminder that while we have moved forward in so many ways, we are still an incredibly cruel species. This video reminded me that there are still millions of women and children that are treated as property and raped around the world. It reminded me that there are still customs in the world that dehumanize and demonize other human beings as being worthy of this kind of inhumanity. It reminded me that in many places, I can be put to death for who I love. In still others I can be put in prison for long periods of time.
I look at my own country and I can see the same possibilities, so thinly veiled, right here. The hatred is covered with a thick coat of political correctness, but it manages to show itself all too plainly. The cheering of a crowd at a political debate at the concept of allowing poor unemployed and insurance-less to simply die. At another political debate, a soldier is booed and the candidates say nothing. A high school cheerleader is suspended and expelled from his team for a same-sex kiss. Bullying of gay and bi perceived children is sheltered, tolerated and to a degree encouraged by a conservative religious spokespeople and even politicians.
All of this goes on and on and on. I read the comments on news articles and recoil from them. The sheer hatred and venom scare me. I see the same on FaceBook posts and my soul withers a little more. The country is not united. Deep divides tear at it. People relish the ability to condemn and yet do nothing to seek an end to problems. Perhaps I am no better. I don’t know.
It is tempting to turn inward and retreat from the horrors of the world. It is tempting to just shut ones eyes and ignore what is before them. It is so, so tempting to put in the iPod ear buds and drown out the cries of hatred, fear, disgust, condemnation, and the sea of negative emotions given voice. It makes me tired, very tired, trying to figure out just what the hell I can do about any of it.
I raged out a couple of weeks ago on returning from work. I was sick at heart. A series of clients showed me how ineffective my agency has been. These clients should have been educated and had some kind of community outreach years ago. Many years ago, to be truthful. I did the best that I could, but I was so angry. My efforts to do just that were blocked, though passively rather than actively. So, I have to do what I can with the limited reach that is available to me directly.
I just hope that we can rise up and truly eliminate our vicious streak before too many more centuries go by. Otherwise, I suspect that dear old planet Earth will be sterilized before to much longer from our efforts to dominate one another. Still, maybe that is the best final solution: let the planet hit the restart button and begin life all over again without us in the mix. Now that’s a grim thought indeed.