Monday, October 01, 2007

Loss on a Global Scale

No doubt that most readers of Digital Doorway have by now heard about the brutal crackdown on Burmese activists calling for democracy and freedom in Burma. As has occurred in many countries throughout history, religious leaders are leading the fight for democratic reforms through non-violent means. Following the historical precedents set by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King in India and the United States, Burmese monks have led the charge in that country, many even today suffering torture, persecution, and murder in payment for their public demonstrations of dissent.

As of today, Burma's only Internet server has been shut down, independent sources of media have been forced to cease operations, and possibly hundreds of demonstrators have been killed in the last week, including many monks who remain important spiritual and cultural leaders in a country steeped in Buddhist teachings.

Meanwhile, twelve African Union peacekeepers were killed in Darfur when rebels invaded an African Union base. Adding human insult to human injury, the death toll for U.S. soldiers in Iraq reached 3,800, and estimates for the number of Iraqi civilian deaths border on 1 million.

And here in our own country, studies show that African American babies are twice as likely to die than white infants, a statistic taken to demonstrate that the insidious effects of racism trickle down to snuff out the lives of those most vulnerable members of our society. This is not necessarily the sudden and scorched-earth loss imposed by the effects of war, but it is part of an overall battle waged in the hearts and minds of all Americans. It is the Racism War, and we are very apparently still losing.

Recovering from my own simple loss of one beloved person---my step-father---I extrapolate these feelings of devastation and bereavement to a global scale, and the effect is overwhelming. So many parents lost. So many brothers, sisters, lovers, children, spouses, colleagues, friends, and family members erased from the face of the Earth.

It is one thing to lose a loved one to an insidious disease like cancer, with months to prepare and in which to slowly say goodbye, especially if that loved one has lived a long and satisfying life. It is another experience entirely to have one's loved one ripped from the fabric of one's life by a violent process fueled by repression, anger, hatred, and calculated brutality. Having lost my best friend to murder at the hands of the police in late 2001, I understand the utter shock and devastation of such violent loss, and I feel deeply for those who now face similar, even more inexplicably violent, experiences.

In the face of such news from abroad and at home, it is altogether difficult to remain complacent and untouched by the barrage of senseless death and loss that streams over the airwaves and rides on the winds. I have no idea what to do with these feelings at the moment, but I know that they are festering and building in my psyche, and no matter how geographically far away a situation may seem, it effects me deeply on levels of which perhaps I am still unaware.

At this time, I can only hope that all beings will some day be free from suffering, and that the winds of compassion can somehow bring some clarity, peace, and truth to those who need it most.
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