From Ethnic Cleansing to Violent Extremism: Is our World Going to Hell?

Lebanon descends into darkness, losing its very few remaining attachments to humanity and civilization. The people are deprived of the most basic requirements for survival. No food, no water, no power, and no medication.

Afghanistan falls prey to the Taliban, and it appears that its people are in a state of absolute terror for the upcoming future, as the extremist group’s plans enforce the strictest interpretation of Islam. Plans that involve a hellish future, plans that fail to incorporate the rights of the country’s civilians, and that imprison them into a framework of obedience with no opportunity to fight for such rights.

The violation of human rights does not end there. We see it happening again and again. Given the ethnic cleansing in Palestine, the baseless, racist-driven brutality of many police officers in the USA, it appears that so many basic rights are being overlooked under the premise of power. But more so, it appears that the world is shifting into a darker place. So, where do we go from here?

This world is going to hell you might say

It may appear to you that the world is crawling into a post-apocalyptic hellish version of itself. But for the world to descend into hell, it would mean that it was a lesser hell before. And yet, this is not the case. Actually, the world has been the same since the dawn of time, and if we take a closer look, we’ve have had it worse.

A few hundred years ago, two categories of people existed in France: the bourgeoisie and the peasants. The bourgeoisie possessed all the wealth and resources and enslaved the rest of the population. The French Revolution came to shift the world away from the bourgeoisie-and-peasants dualism, and towards international modern philosophies such as equality, and human rights.

A shielded injustice: Silenced detainees in Argentina

It’s 1978. The weather is choking hot in Argentina , but the cheers of the audience in the Monumental Stadium were even hotter. Argentina played against Holland in the World Cup final. The world was shocked with the enthusiastic heat of the audience.

As the world witnessed the World Cup, impressed by Argentina’s dedication to football shared by both the citizens and political leadership alike, there was a much darker matter taking place behind the scenes.

Three years later, the world knew the ugly truth behind the enthusiastic cheering. It was a tool to cover the screaming of the detainees. At that time, the detentions of Argentina didn’t have enough space for the thousands of detainees, hence, bigger spaces such as football stadiums were the only options available to contain them. And, it got worse.

FIFA colluded to convince the world that Argentina lived a happy era under the dictatorship of Jorge Videla. Peru allowed Argentina to score six goals in exchange for some of their detainees in Argentina. And as much as these facts indicate an unfathomable level of injustice and of evil, talking about them is nowhere near enough.

A shielded injustice: The Great Leap of industrial China was tiled by 30 Million corpses Of Hungry Chinese Citizens

Mao Tse-tung wanted to reshape China with his bare hands, and initiated “The Giant Leap” in 1958, which belittled private farming in the political concerns of China, who were in the process of converting to industry at the time. The Great Leap ended with a famine, leading to the deaths of 30 million Chinese people. And still, they managed to build great China over the corpses of 30 million starving Chinese citizens. This number might be quickly read or skimmed through in a history class, or briefly mentioned in a conversation, yet fails to give this injustice its proper weight.

A shielded injustice: African slavery vs. living the American dream

While the famine in China was taking place, the American dream was flourishing. When one-third of the African slaves died on the enslaved ships, Europe was driving the unfortunate ones who survived with leashes to work in their houses and fields. If you were a white European man back then, you could only dream of attending a literature salon to brag about it in front of your grandchildren. On the contrary, being an African slave meant only one thing. To be miserable and oppressed to such an extent that, a better alternative meant dying on the enslaved ships with the ‘fortunate’ ones whose pain ended by drowning in the deep depths of the ocean.

Whether we reflect on then or now, the world has always been the same since we knew it. From different examples of absolute nothingness, to corrupted luxury. At times, your access to unlimited technology has scattered your attention into fleeting moments of awareness, but never a lasting moment of extended empathy towards the endless tragedies around you.

Do these tragedies really matter at times when they’ve become so normalized?

For some yes, for others, no. The point being that what we feel about current tragedies may seem to be out of the ordinary when it isn’t, compared to those of the past. And this is not to say that one is more meaningful than the other, or to belittle one against the other.

Putting things into perspective: Does the world care or not?

When comparing all these events, it seems like the bitter truth is that the world is a deaf man, running in a tiled road with zero consideration of you, of the oppressed ones, or for the oppressors.

Imagine the crisis in Lebanon now taking place 300 hundred years ago, with no communication to spread the news to the rest of the world, and hence, no one being made aware about the humanitarian crisis. You would have lived without the stress of this tragedy, but at the same time, you wouldn’t know about it, and wouldn’t be able to speak about it. In addition, those in the world who possess the power to provide aid and help to alleviate the matter would not have united with such speed and determination either. You wouldn’t be able to send donations to save the hungry and the sick in the manner we are capable of doing today. It was horrific then, and it is horrific now, but in a different manner.

In both cases, the horror of these dreadful events explain how our feelings about the world are extremely affected by the relationships to our surrounding space. 300 hundred years ago, our relationship with the world was restricted for the most part, by the limited means of communication. Today, our relationship with the world extends out to other nations, continents, and even outer space.

Given the evolution of resources and means of communication, how has our relationship with the world and our surroundings developed throughout history?

Relating differently to tragic stories

During the learning process that began at the dawn of mankind, one that is still ongoing, we can see in the previously mentioned examples, that humans have clashed and resonated between darkness and light. There is a conflict between being driven into destruction by people’s animalistic instincts and needs, whilst also being driven towards enlightenment and creation by their curiosity, intelligence, and a sense of goodness, or perhaps from their “conscience.”

Driven by these two contradictory drivers, humanity filled the world with kindness and evil, beauty and ugliness, love and hatred. Since the dawn of man and in every moment of time, human beings had and still have the freedom of choosing between both sides, or finding a balance between the two.

This freedom gives us the opportunity to make a better world out of what we have today. We can either crawl to a dark corner, live in fear, and be angry at the world, or we can constructively fight injustice and oppression with the resources we have today. And the latter is a more meaningful and productive way of owning our struggles, rather than letting them get the best of us.

Own your pain and let it drive you

In light of the evolution of human nature, and the capacity to experiment and learn from our experiences, it is in our power to continue to use our experiences as an opportunity for growth, and as an opportunity to relate to the world differently, possibly in a more positive light.

The current international disasters are deeply depressing, but we shouldn’t allow our limited authority on making a direct impact depress us further. We can educate ourselves about the world and raise awareness in our surroundings about minorities, oppression, wars, genocides, famine, and everything that stands against our moral values and our survival. But we must accept our limitations, even it may make us feel helpless.

Some things might seem very insignificant in the face of great injustice, but they are indeed important and powerful. Even the mere vote for your political leadership, help to choose better leaders who can have a direct impact in the world we live in. Within these limitations, we can still grow, and we can still find our own personal freedom.

And, even though this helplessness may make us feel like we are living in an existential crisis, one surrounded by limitations and irrational absurdities, the best we can do is to embrace this absurdity. To use the limited time we have in this world to live our lives to the fullest, and make the most with what we have, even if it isn’t much. Dwelling on the meanings behind everything and allowing ourselves to sulk over the baseless justifications only serves us to a certain extent, but at some point, we must let go and focus on what is within our hands. Shifting our focus to what is out of our hands, will take away from the finite time we have to own what actually is.

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