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Needed: Gladiators to Stand Against Our Human Apathy

The human catastrophe in Yemen is entirely man made. The politics of it are messy and complicated and the various factions behind this horror, the U.S. among them, are difficult to keep up with. But the bottom line is this: government leaders started the war there, they have continued it, and they are doing precious little to avoid civilian casualties and deaths, and, they are impeding the flow of medical care and food for the millions of suffering people there.

Cholera is now an epidemic in the country and thousands of displaced families and individuals are dying from a disease that afflicts the most primitive environments of refuse, squalor, and starvation.

According to a report on NPR this morning some families have lived in cardboard tents for three years, their children out of school for that time, and endless neighborhoods of people without food or water or hope.

For what? For greed. Power. Control.

Here we are in the 21st century and the world wobbles in the inhumanity of war. We’ve learned nothing from history and the slaughter of innocents. Our only development has been in creating more deadly, more devastating and destructive methods of killing people.

Sadly, bewilderingly, incomprehensible as it is, we somehow as a race of humanity allow this to go on bloody year after bloody year.

There is profit in war, huge profit. Giant companies, stock markets around the world, munition manufacturers and arms dealers, sophisticated criminals and downright thugs, all thrive from the spoils of war. Some of these players operate out of high rise offices, government board rooms, the dark web of the internet, and other places of both influence and lawlessness.

That our own military has at times in history, and to this day, crossed the line of necessary defense of country and honor, to participate in the wholesale destruction of other countries and the needless death of innocent men, women, and children, is a reality that contradicts the essential values of our nation.

We say we love democracy, freedom, decency, the rights of others, and the humane treatment of all people. And yet, we continue to interfere in the politics, the conflicts, and the economies of other countries supposedly as some effort in the war on terror. But behind that useless label, we plot to overthrow leaders we don’t like, maneuver to control the valuable resources of others for our own profit, dismiss the human tragedies we create, and refuse to take responsibility for the carnage, the ruin, the devastation of entire cultures of people, their religion, and their livelihoods all in the phony causes of freedom and justice.

What happened to a value we once thought central to our national character, that of giving the world an example of what it means for a person to live safely, honorably, compassionately, and to live to their full potential?

Today, our greed stains us. Our obsession with power, materialism, and world control, contaminates our humanity. It leaves us weakened as a nation, vulnerable to our worst urges, undisciplined, irresponsible, and without a moral code.

Loren Eiseley, a beautiful and wise anthropologist who fought to understand our puzzling human behavior, wrote in his book, “The Invisible Pyramid,” “I dream, and because I dream, I severally condemn fear and salute the future. It is the salute of a gladiator ringed by the indifference of watching stars.”

In that comment, he captures both our challenge and our despair. We must always dream of better times when there is a glory and honor to our humanity and we are all working to live out our highest values. But also realizing the looming indifference around us for such noble behavior, there is the need to muster the strength to be a gladiator standing against our human moral apathy.

© 2017 Timothy Moody

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