Disintegration in the Mideast: a model of withering humanity
Posted Jan 14, 2009

Disintegration in the Mideast: a model of withering humanity

by Dania Ahmed

Upon opening the New York Times homepage, I was angered to discover the main headline dedicated to François Simon, the latest chef in Paris – and a measly Op-Ed corner for the Mideast crisis, where the death toll has neared the 1000 mark. That region is not the only one where humanity is breaking, bathed in blood. It may however, be the only region in the world at the moment where the high death toll is due to the utter loss of humaneness.  Another rather unsurprising article, which immediately caught my attention revealed that only now does the late Bush administration have enthusiastic advocates to speak up on behalf of those being tortured in Guantánamo Bay.

Humanity may be likened to a methodical tale, one concerning census whereas any instance of inhumanity presents a new wound every time it manifests itself – and its pain lingers long after humanity has decreased in number.

The World Health Organization reported that the Cholera death toll in Zimbabwe has topped 2000. The death toll in Costa Rica due to the magnitude-6.1 earthquake rises to 20. In Calgary, 20 people have been killed in a gang war. Floods in Fiji have taken 10 lives. These are deaths that the news reports – most stem from natural causes while others are stirred by hatred; as a general public naively under the control of the media, little do we know about deaths that are not even reported to us.

Granted, human beings are currently dying in parts of the world other than the Mideast, but there is an eerie sense of robotic helplessness surrounding this massacre that is fueled by sheer hatred - sparked by division, by difference. Will the world still not wake up to see that terrorism is an evil that does not discriminate, that it must never be equated with the beautiful faith that is Islam? Can the depth of human suffering ever be conveyed through mere numbers? It seems as though human suffering has become a watered-down and minute topic on both an individual and international level.

While we eat cupcakes in our comfortably lavish homes and anxiously await Mr. Obama’s inauguration celebration (which, to the delight of us oblivious Americans, features a concert designed to foster false optimism in the nation - as though we need any more of that), the other side of the world lives a horrendous nightmare. Can our voices only go so far as to scream at rallies? Can our generosity go only so far as to donate a couple of dollars? What has brainpower even given us at all? Let’s be honest with ourselves – we are doing nothing more than silently watching. We are not even watching. We are sadly enjoying those cupcakes we eat; our own individual inhumanity is furthering the stagnation process and is doing little to obliterate hatred from this world, to alleviate the trauma.

I love humanity. Humanity is compassion. Humanity is benevolence. But I think I just may be on the dangerous verge of hating mankind. This capability of cruelty that rests peacefully in the hearts and minds of individuals needs to be massacred to the ground until it no longer exists – unless and until that happens, the agonizing throb of inhumanity will not go away.

Dania is a religion major and a research assistant in personality psychology in the Department of Psychology at Barnard College.