A Different Kind Of Pain

Why are people so concerned with Lebanon all of a sudden? Because a few hundred people died? Have you forgotten about Iraq? About Palestine? About Darfur? Somalia?

I don’t know what depresses me most, attempting to analyze the logic behind such questions or just staring at the long list of names.

A car bomb going off in a Baghdad market killing 50 people would have made headlines two years ago and now it struggles to find a place in the Lifestyles section. Why is that?

Conflicts in our region are as common as waves in the ocean and it seems all of us wait around to catch the next one. It’s not that we value the death of one person over another, one conflict, one war over the other, but rather the fact that one will tend to replace the other in importance simply because it’s a fresh wound, a different kind of pain that our bodies have not grown used to. We’ve grown jaded with Iraq; it’s become the next Palestine. 20, 30 people die on any given day and it’s like, what else is new?

It’s the sad reality. Conflicts tend to have a certain shelf life and their climax is always their beginnings. The time when everyone is watching to see what will happen next, how bad it will get. The time when people march in the street to protest. We are riding that wave out now with Lebanon as we did with Iraq three years ago as we did with Palestine many times before that.

But then enough time goes by and while the conflict has not changed perceptions have. Itâ??s shock therapy and after the initial jolts, after failed attempts to resist, we just get used to the electric currents running underneath our skin; we surrender to the pain. Itâ??s part of being human and its part of being of this new world order, this new world reality.

If the war on Lebanon extends into (God forbid) a year or two or three just like Iraq, everyone will get used to the pain. Israeli bombs flattening villages or some Beirut suburb will be just another rerun on TV until that too fades into obscurity.

Because after our throats are rendered sore from screaming in the streets and after our feet have grown blisters from marching…stagnation. The birth pangs subside; nothing but the flat lining beep of the machine.

Until something new happens: another war, another tragedy, another pain, and another made-for-TV movie.

If the United States and the United Kingdom and Israel ever do stop bombing us, we can all look forward to years of psychotherapy.


  • Why are people so concerned with Lebanon all of a sudden? Because a few hundred people died? Have you forgotten about Iraq? About Palestine? About Darfur? Somalia?

    hmm, because if that shitty little state called Israel did not exist, Iraq and Lebanon problems (to say the least) wouldn’t have been created. the bug is Israel, this is why if we solve it, a lot of things will get better.

  • nas, i totally agree with you. we have very short attention spans and a war like Iraq is like a long soap opera…you can miss a few episodes and come back to catch up with what has happened. Problem is, the Americans, Brits and Israel know this about us and the rest of the world and thatâ??s another reason they allow wars to drag on and on and on and on. They are sure that we along with the rest of the world will eventually tune out and then they can do whatever the hell they want. All of the special analysts they have working for them tell them that this is the case and they have seen it work as a strategy on more than one occasion.

    So, now that we have identified the culprits and the problem at hand…what do we do about it?

  • Fad i dont think its just us and just these conflicts. Human beings in general have short attention spans and now more than ever. as for solutions, i have none to be honest. it’s hard enough identifying the problem as it is.

  • Fad — I wouldn’t count on American attention spans.

    Naseem, interesting analysis about the patterns of conflicts in the Middle East. Here in America, though, the climax of the Civil War started at Gettysburg, about four years into it. The climax of WW2 for America in Europe was the landing at Normandy, which I guess would fit in your theory since that’s when American troops started invading there. The rest of Europe had been at war for awhile. And, of course, in the Pacific, the climax came at the end of the war in Japan.

    And the climax in Nam I think may have been the Tet offensive. I’m no military historian, just observations.

    I agree with the electric shock analogy.

    Excellent article, thanks for writing it.

  • for many reasons…

    ” The sound of death is horrifying. It·s doesn·t sound of bombs or missiles. Guns or F-16s. Those are the sounds of war and misplaced ideology. We become accustomed to those through 42 inch plasma screens showing embedded playstationesque reporting. Women and children becoming mere statistics in the fight for high ratings and even higher ad revenues. … ”

    we become accustomed, we become immune, our mind designed to shield itself from constant shock… and it`s much easier done when shock comes through TV screen or a newspaper article. When gun shots are never heard and exploding bombs are facts of alien reality, something from the other universe…

    we learned to kill, we learned to hate, we learned to count money and estimate profits, we learned to judge and damn well we learned to consume and digest… everything…

    but we fogot what understanding, empathy, compassion, help and selfless assistance mean…

  • The question is, why do we express outrage when Muslims are killed by non-Muslims, but say nothing when Muslims are killing other Muslims?

    Same logic.

  • I wasn’t just referring to Iraq.

    For example, when the Taliban were slaughtering Shi’a Hazaras on the sole basis of them being Shi’a, the Muslim world stood silent.

    Now when Israel is killing Lebanese Shi’a in Lebanon, there is massive outrage.

    Now how come the Muslim world stays silent when a Muslim government is slaughtering Shi’a, yet when a non-Muslim entity does the same, there is massive outrage?

    Now you cannot disagree with the atrocities the Taliban have committed against the Shi’a population in Afghanistan, in some cases worse than what Israel has inflicted upon Lebanon.

  • Danial, i’m not disagreeing with those atrocities but there is a difference between Arab anger and Muslim anger. Arabs are 300 million, muslims are 1.6 billion worldwide, the same way there are 300 million americans and 2 billion christians.

    should we run down the list of atrocities committed by America? Christians? Jews? where is their outrage when their people slaugher ours?

  • Well Nas, considering the fact that we are the ones that always cry persecution and calling everything a “war on Islam”, and the unity hoopla that we espouse, don’t you think it’s quite disgusting that Muslims around the world stay silent when Muslims are oppressing other Muslims or non-Muslims even?

    You don’t see Muslims around the world speaking out on the plight of the Coptic Christians in Egypt? Or the Iraqi Christians? Or the Pakistani Christians? I’m ashamed of how Christians are treated in my own country by the majority Muslims, and it’s uncalled for since Pakistani Christians are the most loyal citizens of Pakistan.

    Muslims have murdered more Muslims than anyone else has, and that is a fact.

    Another fallacy. Why is it that we are outraged over Sabra and Shatila, yet said nothing about Hafez al-Assad’s destruction of the Syrian city of Hama in 1982?

    We need to stop having this perception of being perfect and never being wrong when we are far from it. That is the point Nas.

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