I am just a common inhabitant in a country of just five million – just one country of 195. I live in the West – i.e. the part of the world that makes up just 15 per cent, or so, of the world’s population.
Countries in the West take orders from an infinitesimal minority of people in the USA, where the rest of the 331 million have no say whatsoever in the greater scheme of things. Just like me.
I find to my surprise that I have something else in common with them: Anger.
Many people in the USA are angry and have been so for a long time. During the Trump presidency and its immediate aftermath, we even had the impression, here in Europe, that the self-defined “greatest country in the world” was on the brink of civil war.
Mainstream media no longer highlights the risk of civil war in the USA – but I’m pretty sure that the anger is still there, lurking under the relatively smooth mainstream surface. US American anger is presumably as variegated as is anger in the rest of the world. There are for instance a number of widely held views in the US that I do not share. (Now that I think of it, the European press tends to highlight the most outlandish of US popular trends. I will not mention examples now, because my goal here is to explore common ground.)
In terms of common ground, I suspect Europeans and US citizens share a growing sense of distrust of “the system”, “politicians”, “the elite”, “the press”, “the financial services” – whatever, and please do not even think of adding “the Jews”!
Now, since I dropped that word, let me make it eminently crystal clear: Being Jewish does not – NOT – mean being politically or financially this, that or the other, nor does it mean being morally or otherwise responsible for the ongoing attempted genocide of the Palestinian people. Being Jewish means no more and no less than being, for instance, Catholic or Protestant or Moslem or Agnostic (I write this notwithstanding my great admiration for the novelist Philip Roth who would have disagreed with me, maybe) or even US American.
Now, where was I? Yes. Anger. Distrust. We have been, most of us, taught since early childhood to blindly trust and honour our countries, our governments, our authorities. In Communist Eastern Europe, people have learnt to be less credulous, although they love and honour their countries no less than we love ours. But I put to you that citizens of Eastern European countries are more inured to lies on the part of “the system”, “politicians”, “the elite”, “the press”, “the banks” – whatever – than the rest of us. They are more realist.
We in the West trusted our authorities blindly, and many of us are now angry. Maybe we believed in what was impossible. Maybe “honesty” exists only in children’s books. At any rate, I, for one, have noticed with growing frequency over the past years (maybe I had previously been naive) that Government spokespersons, representatives of political parties, corporations and financial services have been scrupulously trained to lie blithely when lies are “required”, in other words in the service of their employers’ self-interest. Communications advisors are extremely well-paid, by the way, presumably to compensate for psychological damage from fears of an eternity spent in whatever hell their particular religion has in store for them.
For the record, I wish to add that honesty between people who love each other is not, definitely not, limited to children’s books. Such honesty exists, thank goodness, and is still held in high regard.
But this post is about anger, anger as opposed to peace. Because I fear that most of us do not want peace. For one thing, we do not accept the implications of peace as they are presented to us. In the case of Afghanistan, for instance, the implications of peace were that women would be horribly suppressed. And yes, women are now horribly suppressed. In the case of Ukraine, peace might mean that parts of Ukraine (the Russian-speaking parts) must be seceded to Russia, and that Ukraine will never be a member of NATO. In the case of Israel, the implication of peace would be that Israel relinquishes the West Bank, occupied by Israel since 1967 in defiance of “international law”. Whatever your views on these implications, there are certainly enough people who are so adamantly opposed to them, that they will prefer war to peace.
Now, I particularly dislike the way women are treated in Afghanistan. However, I very much doubt that economic sanctions, not to mention prolonged outright occupation would ever have had the desired effect on the proud Afghan men. Battering the men would never have made them see what we consider to be the errors of their ways.
My experience – but I know that many would disagree with me – is that if you beat a recalcitrant child, you may cow him, you may find him submissive, but he will hate you, deep down, hate everything you stand for, and he will not weep at your funeral, though he might weep for himself. Had we left the arrogant Afghan cats alone, they would sooner or later have come out of hiding and asked for milk, just like all cats. Then we could have bargained for women’s rights.
But we – the West (i.e. governments of the West) – are not cats, not dogs, nor even sharks. We are just plain stupid. We destroy everything we touch with our arrogance, our conceit and not least with our financial tricks and shenanigans.
As for the Palestinians: Has anyone ever been willing to go to war for them? Alas, they are on their own. Not only must they try to defend what little is left of what is actually their country (according to the UN), those of them who never fled from Israel after 1949 are treated as third class citizens. They have no petroleum, no rare-earth elements, they are hardly worth guano, i.e. shit, from an investor’s perspective. So nobody will send them guns and tanks and fighter planes with which they can defend themselves.
Not that I would want us to do so. I merely roundly condemn any country that supports and finances the oppressor, and I recommend – yes, only recommend – that other countries boycott (not sanction) Israel, as long as it flagrantly practices apartheid in contravention of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and occupies territory to which it has no right.
Uganda is another country to which we are not sending guns and tanks and fighter planes. Yet, Uganda is harshly suppressing homosexuals. That is very regrettable. But so did we in the West until just half a century ago. Uganda must find its way. I am glad that, so far, we have not declared war on Uganda (but you never know).
Live and let live! Not war. Not sanctions. Not bullying.
We are so sure, here in the West, that our way is the best way. That our way is the only acceptable way, that we have seen the light.
I can assure you, in case you missed the point, that if there is one thing we haven’t seen here, it’s the light.