Priorities and Lebanon
Lebanon, or at least one part of it, has plunged into bloody violence, with heavy civilian casualties being reported, and yet the top "news" stories on Yahoo are a billionaire who bought his own 787 jet, commentators who are surprised at which NBA team gets the number one draft pick, a "vote on who should present the MTV Movie Awards" poll, and a story about whether internet gadgets lead to couples sleeping in separate beds.
Is this reflective of our true priorities? We care more about who hosts an entertainment awards night than about people dying? About who is going to get first choice on next years roster? And as for the billionaire story -- are we so focused on the rich and famous we forget the suffering of the poor, and are the rich and famous so focused on fulfilling the most inane of desires that they too have forgotten the sufferings of the poor? I mean, how much must a VIP 787 cost? What if that money had been put into opening schools in Afghanistan, or giving hundreds of thousands of micro loans to families to help them turn their lives around?
These top stories reveal a degree of narcissism that is simply sickening.
Rather we should be asking ourselves some tough questions. How do we eradicate militarism? There is a reason Fatah al-Islam is militant. Do we simply try and wipe it out by killing all the Fatah members, or do we address the root causes? Will a show of strength deter others who might think violence is the only way to get their cause a hearing, or will it simply reinforce the idea that violence works? If we wipe out Fatah or Al-Qaeda, will we be creating a dozen new organizations because 1) the root cause still exists and 2) we have exacerbated the situation with our own violent actions? Or will others give up and realize that terrorism is immoral and inhumane?
Hand in hand with those questions, we need to be asking some hard questions about our own government. There is a reason the US tries to secure the interests of its corporations (and supposedly thus its citizenry) through military might. If the Democrats, coming to power in a tide of public disgust over the Iraq war, can't even send a bill to President Bush that demands troop removal by a certain date, then how accountable is our government to its people? (Answer: not very, or maybe, not at all.) How can we convince our government that militarism only breeds militarism, and that our military activism needs to be reigned in. How can we convince them that diplomacy, negotiation, and a global Marshall plan would do better at securing our interests than all the wars we've fought in the past fifty years?
With news outlets focusing on entertainment, sports, and the excesses of the hyper-rich, one suspects that serious discussions on issues like these are happening on a far too limited basis.