Society’s silence in the face of extreme human suffering worrying

2011-07-07 07:18

Society’s silence in the face of widespread hardships and suffering caused by wars are a worrying trend.

Staged violence has transformed our society into a morally cold and indifferent one.

Perhaps violence has become too familiar to an extent that gory and violent human suffering is not shocking any more unless it be hyper and spectacular.

What kind of society are we constructing?

Has a hyper-violent and spectacular presentation of cruelty helped to block our ability to respond politically and ethically to violence as it plays itself out in battle-weary spots like Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East and lately, in Libya?

Our everyday life seems to be re-figured through images of spectacular violence and human suffering that has become the organising principle of economic takeover of smaller nations under the pretext of regime change.

Civil society used to be vocal and critical against wars of any kind whatever their justifications.

The untold human suffering, more especially on women and children as witnessed during the First and Second World Wars, compelled society to look at war with contempt.

Two weeks ago the Rolling Stone magazine published a photo of Gul Mudin, an unarmed young Afghanistan boy killed in the village of La Mohammad Lakay by 12 US soldiers apparently for sport.

What is even more disturbing is that one of the soldiers mutilated the boy’s body and posed for photographs with the deceased like a proud hunter with his trophy impala.

Images of this sort would normally raise alarm and spark public outrage in a society whose collective memories of moral decency and mutuality is still intact.

Here at home we are exposed to extreme images of violence daily on our television news bulletins, radio and newspapers.

The brutal murder of Andries Tatane by some members of the South African Police Services, the continuous killings of alleged criminals instead of their arrests and the recent torching of a Chiawelo house by a mob in Soweto recently are all forms of violence that goes on unabated.

Are we becoming amenable to deriving pleasure from images of calamity and violence?

Where are the anti-war coalitions? Where is the anti-war news?

Is civil society’s compassion fatigued? The voice that was always prophetic is becoming faint, that candlelight beam that was the conscience of our nation is growing dim by day. It is a worrying trend.

Nhlatla Molapo

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