January 15th, 2010
If the extreme misery of fellow humans does not inspire justice-seeking in us, then what will it take?
The recent earthquake in the Caribbean island La Española and the tens of thousands of souls it took away with it has touched many around the world who are capable of realizing that there is more to this existence than their own daily lives. A sincere humanitarian concern - as opposed to a momentary hype - should move us to gain depth with other peoples' suffering and their realities, as well as a responsible understanding of our world.
Newly opened bank accounts to help the Haitian victims of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked the shores of Port-au-Prince have quickly been filled with generous donations, and expressions of solidarity have flooded airwaves, optic fibers, and satellite streams during the past days.
These laudable efforts and admirable intentions display once more that human beings are innately enabled to aspire to more beyond our own personal vicissitudes, and that we have been empowered to leave our own interests aside in order to sympathize and help our sisters and brothers in kind, regardless of any accidental difference.
Technology and UN, or Justice?
We, however, undermine our own good will and our altruist design when thinking that we are to tackle injustice in this world with sporadic donations aimed at relieving symptoms, whenever tragedies arise. A magnitude 7.0 earthquake which kills close to 100,000 peoples in the impoverished Haiti, might not even kill 1,000 in the first world. This implies we humans have devised the ways to avoid the deaths of tens of thousands of peoples, but we are not making use of them.
When we ask ourselves if it is an issue of further expanding technology and illustrating the so-called backwards world with our modern engineering and science, we come to a contradiction with the reality out there. The 2004 coup on Haiti which saw the elected president Aristide kidnapped by US marines out of his country, was by no means a novelty in the Caribbean region, and not even in Haiti itself.
Same is the case of the constantly reported abuses from supposed humanitarian UN deployments backing the artificial regime, as this entity authored the murdering of no less than 500,000 Iraqi children through economic sanctions, in a move found to be "worth it" by our very first world which claims moral superiority and a lead in human rights in our world. This makes us wonder: What are we really first at? At enlightenment or rather first at the need to be enlightened?
It is a huge distortion of reality to believe that by giving our backs to the wisdom other cultures have to teach us, and by imposing the chains of shallow and carelessly thought conceptual structures, politicized sanctions, military invasions, or the whitewashing of all of these through sporadic humanitarianism, that we are making any progress in terms of evolution as human kind.
The suffering of Haitians today did not start with the recent earthquake, and the suffering of another nation tomorrow wont find its roots in another unpreventable event, but in an ever-present scenario of prevailing injustice in our way of building the world and our relations with each other. One which will continue to sow the seeds for future massive deaths and oppression that will take one form or another, for nature has many languages in which to expose to us our deviation from a sincere path of justice.
Haiti was vulnerable not because its people are too lazy to attain first world standards, but because this very set of standards we glorify has made them and the majority of the world to constantly pay for the unreal cheap prices we set for ourselves through a market system thirsty for underpaid and inhuman labor beyond our borders.
If we really care
So if our concern is genuine, we shall not confine it only to relieving donations, or to feeling powerless when facing an overwhelming obstacle, but we should revive the urge for challenging corruptions wherever and however they arise, and seek how to dedicate our lives and virtues to this goal. We should learn to unite, not making of cultural differences an excuse to be separated, and not condemning others because they decide to build societies in alternative ways.
"Develop in your heart the feeling of love for the peoples. Remember that they are of two categories: They are either your brethren in religion or your brethren in kind."
Imam Ali (Epistle to Malik Ashtar)
In a world so disconnected from the consequences of the lifestyles we lead, and so alienated from the implications of the conceptual structures we enforce, conscience is to play a major role. To not trust our understandings on third persons who bask in maintaining a culture of negligence towards the reality out there and the sufferings we ourselves create.
"Wine in ferment is a beggar suing for our ferment. Heaven in revolution is a beggar suing for our Consciousness."
Jalal-e-Din Mohammad Molavi (Masnavi)