Usually articles like these just make me shake my head, sigh, and think, “Should I really be surprised?” But this time I let the headline sit with me a little longer, and it got me thinking about things a little differently.
What would the reaction of Americans be if the title said instead, “Iran Says it Accidentally Killed 9 American Civilians,” or even better, “U.S. Says It Accidentally Killed 9 American Civilians.” If they were American civilians — just normal people, trying to live their lives — that were mistakenly killed by the government of another country (or its own), wouldn’t there be complete and utter outrage? But why do we not have the same outrage for the killing of innocents in other countries around the world? A recent study suggested that over one million Iraqis have died since the U.S. invasion began in 2003. That is equivalent to about 833 Holgate — the town I grew up in — sized towns. Or think about it another way: how many people do you know? Do you know one million people? Probably not. And what if every single person you know was killed? How would you react to that? And that still wouldn’t be enough…
I think a large part of the problem is that we remove ourselves so far from what’s happening that it becomes little more than numbers and statistics, lacking any kind of human context (I’ve written about this before). I recently saw Charlie Wilson’s War, and in it, the politicians don’t sympathize with the plight of the Afghan refugees during their conflict with Russia until they actually went to visit their refugee camps. I have heard of similar experiences from those who’ve traveled to places like Palestine, Columbia, and Iraq (to name a few). If it’s not right in front of us, it’s easy to ignore. But that surely doesn’t mean we should ignore it!
When people get interested and concerned about a topic, they pour energy into it and get other people riled up about it, too. We can truly create change if we actually see the horrors our country is committing and speak out that we want change. Are you willing to spend a little less time on the Internet or watching TV and use that time to let your voice be heard? I challenge you to speak out for the change you desire, no matter how far away it may seem now. Without our voices, what will ever change?