Rising above the wounds of war and oppression
In the reality of wars and the ensuing stages that require reflection, prudence and disclosure, there will always appear people who feed hatred to ensure their presence in the battlefield, whether by calling for killing or instigating it, while making sure to couch their calls in vague ideas of remaining loyal to the dead or any other such contradictory banalities that perpetuate savagery.
Because of their work, coexistence turns into a curse. It loses its meaning, effect and intent to become a form of moral devastation that follows the physical devastation produced by conflict. The human rubble is a reflection of the surrounding physical rubble. No reconstruction is possible without reinstating the primacy of moral and human values by reconsidering them in their historical context and removing any ambiguity in their meaning.
Coexistence requires a desire to persevere despite the wounds of the past and a strong will to ignore calls for revenge.
To begin material reconstruction, we must first rebuild the war-ravaged human being and suppress attempts to booby trap our present and future with hatred and trauma.
For war-minded people, the call of reason, or the voice calling for real coexistence, must be suppressed and the caller oppressed. In an atmosphere loaded with a cacophony of calls for violence and polarisation, the voice of reason is estranged from his surroundings and because he carries his ordeal inside him, no one wants to listen to him or examine his beliefs.
It is heartbreaking to see feelings of injustice dominate and determine the lives of whole communities and societies. Many of them seem to enjoy the idea and practice of reviving at every turn the memory of injustices, perceived or real, they endured. They celebrate them, resurrect them and keep them alive to exploit them now and in the future to claim special concessions and privileges.
Injustice becomes a commercial bridge to reap the imagined deferred fruits that the owner claims are payable to him. It defines his existence and purpose in life.
Occasionally, you come across a prisoner of conscience who places the burden of his imprisonment on you. Others demand you venerate them — even idolise — as if they redeemed your life with their souls and fortunes.
Granted they deserve recognition for their acts but aren’t they supposed to have been exercising their convictions and upholding what they believe as their duty without expecting reward or special privileges from the rest of us because their acts and convictions are their deserved rewards?
It is striking and reprehensible that they knowingly, or perhaps by ignorance, transform their convictions into acts of sacrifice for our sake and demand that we reward them morally or financially.
Perhaps one can ascribe the need of these people to repeatedly resort to this thinly veiled form of emotional blackmail. Whatever the case might be, it is clear that one cannot live haunted by these injustices because life is broader than restricting it to a specific aspect or restricting it to one image or incident.
In their daily behaviour and attitude, our friends embody the role of heroes, seriously believing they are unique in their greatness, that everybody else would need light-years to try to catch up with them and that their companions are people who live in the banality of their misleading feeling of superiority and greatness.
Perhaps it is correct to say in these two cases that self-contempt and self-aggrandising are two sides of the same coin. The disease they represent is almost incurable, except through a great personal sacrifice.
It is unfortunate that we live in troubled times when the voices of populists ring louder and have a stronger effect. A populist demagogue can quickly turn into a symbol and surround himself with mutants who glorify him. His supporters among politicians and opinion-makers would multiply like flies because he teases their instincts of self-aggrandising by putting down others.
When examined closely, the ideas spewed by populists are removed from the spirit of humanity and the zeitgeist of the time and each populist is nothing but a bridge for another to attain his ambitions and delusions of greatness and uniqueness.
How can we deal with these pathological conditions expressed by calls for revenge, games of victimisation and fictitious oppression and populist masks?
The task requires a focused effort and great awareness by believers in the idea of coexistence. It requires that we steer everyone’s attention away from the burden of tragedies of the past. This is where the role of philosophy, art and literature becomes crucial. They must be placed in the service of humanity, our humanity, for us to overcome, even partially, the turmoil of the chaos sweeping the world in a cruel way.