What all those “interventions” undertaken by countries belonging to “our civilization” group, have in common? Well, neither of them actually was meant to help people, at least not those living in the target countries.
Obviously none – or almost none – of the conflicts in the modern history wasn’t based on pure and good intentions. After all, it’s hard to expect for killing each other to be good and pure. Paradoxically, it seems that the most honest conflicts are those most bloody – like World Wars, for example. The facts, that group of countries around the world wanted to jump to each other throats – and other countries were obviously hell-bent on not letting them to do so, were not buried under tones of PR speeches and faux-humanitarian causes. Pure. Honest. Not really good, but honest. The conflicts of course escalated to countries who really didn’t want to go to war at the time, like Poland to which German (oops, I’m sorry, Nazi) invasion meant end of dreams of building strong and independent country, after actually regaining independence just over twenty years before.
Yet observing some of the more recent conflicts, spanning last few decades, a disturbing trend has become more and more prevalent. It became visible with Vietnam War, the quite apparent with Desert Storm and finally with Iraqi Freedom or Odyssey Dawn it is completely obvious. I’m talking about how we – the citizens of modern, “western” world – perceive conflicts that are taking place on our glove. To illustrate:
And no, it’s not about complete lack of empathy (listening about hundreds of victims of the last massacre while simultaneously eating dinner). What disturbs me is something quite opposite: the excessive interest that people have in getting all the possible details about Libyan operation. Ongoing fights in Libya doesn’t obviously have anything to do with freedom or democracy, which are not accidental or a “people’s yell for independence”, which are more like settling accounts between people we don’t or won’t know about, doing businesses exceeding understanding of a common person. Those fights are obscuring things that are actually important for modern countries and its citizens. Fiscal policies, infrastructural investments or electoral laws – those topics are certainly less exciting than Libyan conflict, but you’re paying taxes in your country – not Libya, on highway in your country you are driving – not Libyan and finally those are your country elections, not Libyan, that you are taking part in.
This disturbing tendency is often true even in smaller scale: national-levl topics are obscuring local-level ones: a verbal fight between, for example, members of congress may seem more interesting than news about a new over-pass planned in your vicinity not getting funding because of some procedural errors. The whole “pyramid of interest” seems to be inverted: people are eagerly watching news about global events which usually have little or no effect on them, but show no emotion when they listen about street they’re driving through each day or a park they’re walking in each Sunday.
Funny example: a friend of mine, who was planning a trip to Rome, Italy in few days was looking for a map of anticipated radioactive fallout from Fukushima nuclear power-plant. After all, she was going much closer to it (just 6 thousand kilometres instead of usual 8 thousands). I don’t even blame her for that lack of imagination and panic. I blame media, who are devoting so much attention to the Fukushima, as if it’s complete meltdown and explosion was capable of inducing new Ice Age (or turn Europe into dead wasteland).
Finally I want to mention a humorous anecdote, which I’ve heard in TV: a Japanese man, living in Europe, just several hours after the Tsunami, has made a phone call to a colleague, scheduled some quite some time before. They were planning to discuss some business topics. So they did, and did so for several minutes. It was only when they had clarified and set up everything they were to, the caller said: “By the way, I’ve heard there was an earthquake nearby?” “Yes” – answered man – “We’re all OK,” “Good. Goodbye.”
And it’s that distance, that focus, that I wish you all.