Thursday, April 19, 2007

Other's Grief

Photo: Ahmad Al-Rubaie/AFP/Getty

This photo accompanies Andrew Sullivan's quote from a Kurdistani who was in Iraq visiting when one of this week's bombs went off. Sullivan's comment is reassuring to me.

"In the three days that Americans have rightly been fixated on a horrifying act by a mentally disturbed person, well over 200 innocent people have been massacred in a country with less than one tenth the population of the United States, where the U.S. government has ultimate responsibility for security and where al Qaeda and Sunni mass-murderers roam with impunity."

I wonder when we might develop for others the kind of empathy we feel for our "own." What human quality is it that imbues us with deep care for only our own tribe, so to speak, and not for other tribes, all of whom are humans like us. It is not particularly unique to the USA tribe, as we can see in Iraq, Darfur, Bosnia and on and on.

In this instance, our government has created the problem in Iraq. Its population is experiencing terrible suffering and grief because of the administration's reckless, misguided, thoughtless attack that it then mismanaged into a catastrophe of carnage. Our hearts, minds and devotion should go out to these people in the same manner it goes out to our own.

It would be fair to hold our government to the same standards of examination that the institutions of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Blacksburg are going to be held. If our government had met these standards of responsibility it is unlikely that we would have ever gone in to Iraq or, had we gone in,
still be there.

If we could place 1/10th of the focus on the conduct of the administration in Iraq that we will on Virginia Tech, the administration would be toast by now. But, we have ignored the suffering caused by our government's mad assault and bizarre behavior in a far away land. Our insouciance in the face of the great harm we have brought on the people of Iraq is unforgivable.

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