Since writing last nite about the new revelations of torture in Iraq
, I find myself in a very familiar place. It's that place where no other news of the day can even begin to inspire in me the passion to write, because so much of it seems so inconsequential in comparison to this continuing inhumanity that is, for the most part, ignored on a very wide scale.
Just as people turn away from knowing too much about the catastrophe of genocide in Sudan, along with similar stories that reach us day after day about unholy uses of power around the world that leave our fellow human beings as mere shells where spirits once soared, we do so because our pain is just too great when we feel so incredibly helpless to effect any change. It's an understandable reaction. To immerse oneself in the reality to any great extent seems to be the luxury of those directly involved in providing aid to those who suffer.
The acknowledgment of suffering has its own saturation point. Witness the grief for the victims of the Indonesian tsunami or the horror after viewing the situation in NOLA after Hurricane Katrina. It seems that many think that once they have done their part by donating money or expressing their outrage, the only thing left is to let someone else sort out the details. Meanwhile, the survivors must cope for years as they literally get their houses back in order. More often than not, they rightfully feel forgotten.
And so it is with the victims of torture in Iraq.
In all of this, I need to remind myself that my fellow bloggers on the left may seem
to have moved on at times when they simply post about the latest Republican scandal or the most recent poll numbers for candidates in the upcoming elections in the US but, in the whole scheme of things, the work that they do on a daily basis that contributes to support for greater human and civil rights via the push for true democratic values by aiming at retaking Democratic control of the congress cannot be seen in a vacuum. Their goal - my goal - is to inform people about the need for change and to encourage broader conversations about how that can be achieved.
The current power structure must be challenged and, while we must not rely too heavily on governments which move notoriously slowly - tangled in the bureaucracy they have created - we have to concede they have the power to effect policies that can and do reach the people who are suffering. Where they often fail is in their single-minded approach to grasping power for the sake of power itself - forsaking their duties as stewards of humanity and that is where individual citizen advocacy comes in.
No matter how hopeless or futile it may seem as we find ourselves wrapped in the pain of people we cannot ever personally know who live thousands of miles away, we all have a duty to express our deep concern and to support humanitarian organizations who do the direct work that we cannot. They exist not only to act on the victim's behalf, but to act on behalf of the rest of us as well and they often do so in relative obscurity as we fight amongst ourselves over our political differences.
If we are unable to come together to end inhumane treatment because we are so selfishly focused on claiming the moral high ground, people will simply continue to be tortured, abused, raped, molested, wounded and killed and their fates will have gone unnoticed.
We are too far removed - emotionally, spiritually and intellectually.
One of the great failures of the large, community-based blogs that have become so popular in the past few years is the huge amount of time simply wasted on discussing 'meta' issues - concerns about the community structure or the personalities involved. They really should be renamed 'me' issues. On any given day, you can find thousands of comments on blogs like Daily Kos
, Booman Tribune
and My Left Wing
that only serve the participants themselves: arguments about who is or isn't on the 'recommended list', discussions about hurt feelings over ratings, intellectual exercises in 'community development', attacks on community members with differing viewpoints that challenge the conventional wisdom - all simply a colossal waste of time and energy.
None of these endless conversations has so far helped those communities to get beyond their problems. No one can know how these still new blogging communities will actually develop. What members fail to realize is that, simply allowing these forums to be what they are and to grow and change as they will - just as life ebbs and flows in unpredictable directions - would release them to focus on real life changes that directly impact the lives of the people they are fighting for who have been the victims of inhumanity.
There simply is too much emotional, spiritual and intellectual snobbery in these communities that diverts much needed focus from real world issues. The self-centered navel gazing comes at the expense of people who are subjected daily to horrific abuse in faraway countries and in their home countries as well. Before anyone chimes in with the idea that these communities can actually walk and chew gum at the same time, I'd challenge them to justify the imbalance of the energy expended on these meta issues as opposed to discussions about situations that impact peoples' daily lives. Each of us only has a limited amount of time and energy each day with which to impact someone's life. When those resources are wasted, they cannot be regained. Time is gone. Energy that could have been better spent can never be reclaimed.
What more would you have me do, you ask? I would respond simply by suggesting that some thought be given to the fact that all we really have is this moment
. The only thing we really have control over is how we live this moment
. The only impact we can measure is that affected by what we choose to do with this moment
. And, if this moment
is spent on insignificant issues about 'me', it is lost forever to those who need you to focus on them.(crossposted from liberal catnip to Booman Tribune. I do not post on Daily Kos.)