In recent days we have seen vast Western media publicity on the Boston Marathon bombings: the dead, the wounded and the likely perpetrators. At the same time, more than 140 people have been killed in multiple bombings in Iraq with almost no Western publicity. And no doubt, many more “invisible” killings in other countries have occurred over that period, including at least 5 people killed by US drone attacks, ‘collateral damage’ killings in Afghanistan, not to mention the mercenary wars going on in Mali and other regions in Africa, and the Burmese civil wars.
In my world view, every being killed is worthy of equal respect and value as another. I believe it is important if we are to be truly compassionate human beings; (and is it not compassion that marks us as being fully human?), that we pay our respects to those who have been killed and wounded in Boston, but that we also also pay our respects to all those who have died elsewhere. I will also mourn all those multitudes of beings from other species who we as humans have killed in our war against our own environment; whether it be through our “need’ to eat other fellow mammals or fish, or simply the collateral damage from agri-business, mining, logging, chemical spills, or our relentless need to seal the ground over for roads, carparks and buildings…..
Why are we so selective in our valuing some humans over other humans, and why are humans so highly prized over other species on this planet?
In my understanding, we value those who are most like us, and de-value those who are not like us-the other”. That “otherness” is encompassed in our judgements about everything about our world; from people with other skin colours not our own, to living beings who are not ‘cuddly’ and warm (and furry?) like us mammals. In addition, from birth we are fed a diet of reminders of what a savage world it is outside , and only “we”, the familial clan, can protect you. Upbringing, fear, ignorance and a small smattering of genes, all combine to give us permission to brutalize all those who are “other”.
Without these selective filters on our senses, we would be able to see that “we” are no better than “them” , we are fundamentally and unequivocally equal ; we co-habit this little blue ball together, and for own collective wellbeing we must nourish and protect our fellow travellers on this journey through the universe.
Are we really that simpleminded and judgemental and superficial to do otherwise?- it would sadly appear so.
Harmony – the ultimate goal between humans and nature by Yuan Tze