I know why the caged bird bites…
Posted Jan 5, 2009

I know why the caged bird bites… 

by Imran Musaji

Regularly the news carries with it some new and amazing discovery of how so-and-so chemical plays a part in some well known human behavior—lack of dopamine receptors makes people more impulsive thrill-seekers, or certain genes increase the likelihood of addictive behaviors. The general consensus is that human behavior, similar to the rest of the animal kingdom, is determined by a complex combination of nature and nurture.

Psychologists will further tell you that humans prioritize their behavior based on certain needs. We need food and shelter to build social bonds and establish security. Once those needs are met, we can pursue a job, a family. Only when these foundational needs are met can we begin to pursue the higher ideals of art, science, philosophy, religion, ethics.

We are complex creatures, and such generalizations are incomplete, but ask yourself, what happens when you strip a people of all the foundational needs? If you destroy the infrastructure providing clean water and energy, if you starve them and cut off all food and medicine, if you bomb their shelters,  bulldoze their homes, decimate their families?

If, God forbid, someone were to do that to any American city, do you really think we would maintain strong ethics and morals? Or would we lash out? Would we act like any caged animal exposed to cruelty and denied essentials. I have only to look at what happened in New Orleans to know the answer.

So while I detest all violence, I find myself looking at the current situation with Palestine and Israel and noticing one country has everything and the other has nothing—no food, no medicine, no money, no shelter, no security. Who should be held responsible for holding to their idealized ethics and morals and religious duties, that highest pinnacle of “Thou shalt not kill”? And, when one side is reduced to lashing out with whatever they have left, their own lives wrapped in bombs, yes it is despicable, animal, inhuman—but isn’t that the point?

Short of genocide, no amount of bombs or tanks will bring peace to the area—the Palestinians desperation and despair will just grow—and if Israel is willing to go that far, then they too have lost their humanity, but by choice.