Monday, February 18, 2013

Atrocities Ignored...

The excuses we make... The lies we accept... The half truths we savor... The lengths we go to... All to avoid facing the atrocities human beings inflict upon one another and other living beings.

Lately, it seems like every day I see yet another atrocity yet another human being has inflicted on yet another human or other living being. I want to turn away. I want to not see. I want to not know. And, yet, if I don't look, if I refuse to see, if I deny knowing, I become implicit in allowing atrocities to continue even if I have no direct involvement or influence. Yet, somehow looking, seeing, knowing also feels wrong at times - voyeuristic almost - even though I know the only way to change things is to first acknowledge their existence.

I ask myself how people can inflict the kind of abuses, torture, and cruelty on other people as well as on animals without seeming to care at all. Even though I've studied criminal behavior and psychology, I still can't comprehend how human beings can treat others so cruelly.

Perhaps I don't really want to understand how someone gets to the point they can inflict pain, humiliation, degradation, and torture on others as they hear cries of pain and see the looks of despair they create. Seeking understanding sometimes feels a little like looking for excuses for my fellow human beings. In a sense it's an attempt to hold on to the fantasy of how I want the world to be rather than seeing it as it is. Willful blindness allows me to sleep at night and make it through my days.

In the past few months, I've watched several movies and documentaries that have left me astounded at the atrocities people inflict on one another. In particular, The Whistleblower, a movie about human trafficking,  and Taxi To the Dark Side, a documentary about torturing prisoners, hit me hard and forced me to question how we allow these atrocities to continue to happen.

There comes a time when we have to face reality. When we have to step out of our comfort zones and realize that when we allow others to be tortured and treated cruelly, we fail our fellow human beings. It's easy to excuse what happens to others by believing we are immune to the behavior; however, when we fail to stand up for our fellow human beings, we fail ourselves as well.

There comes a time when we must understand that when we dismiss an act against those without power because it will never affect us, we perpetuate the action. When we support industries, companies, and organizations that inflict atrocities on others, we contribute to those atrocities. When we simply shrug because something is not our problem, we open ourselves to it becoming our problem eventually.

I believe the first step is to see one another as equal, to stop seeing each other as "other", to stop the "us versus them" mentality we promote, to understand that we are all connected. Then we must give of the fantasy of how we wish life was and face reality. The only way we can address the atrocities on this Earth is to understand there is never a justification for treating other living beings as if they are inanimate objects devoid of feelings, incapable of feeling pain, or of lesser or no importance. Then we can begin to understand that when we seek to inflict pain, that same pain could be inflicted upon us...


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