Saturday, 2 August 2014

The Gaza Blame Game And Children Who Live, With No Choice

There is no doubt that graphic images of wounded and dead children, who had no role or agency in the Gaza issue, are heartbreaking. Wherever you turn to in this age of incessant ideas, you find lamentations, rants, angry slogans, calls for revenge in this world and the other, and even calls for peace and solutions. It is all very troubling, and life-changing too, for a thinking person. Can we really think of a solution? I can't, to be honest. I can't, unless we shift our focus, at least for arguments' sake, from the children who are dead, to the ones who are not dead. The ones who are not dead and have to live, with no choice.

The inane blame game and its uselessness is looked at with great insight in the recent Guardian article here.  It concludes with a strong view of "[N]ot one more shell in a Gaza schoolyard, ever." Let us hope so against our hopes, against what history warns us. Even then, the question remains of those who survive the experience - both those who suffer and those who cause the suffering directly or indirectly. They will have to live in a world devoid of real choices, morality apart. This is not a pleasant situation, especially when a part of these survivors turn out to be children. Children who grow up to realize at some point in their life that they cannot separate themselves from the history of dead children. Not just because the dead children were related to them by the bond of blood, religion or nationality but also the stronger bond of an ideological situation.

Philosophers keep wondering about free will. Can the idea of free will exist in a world where unfettered thoughts don't exist? Parental influences and institutional/religious indoctrination are not the only things that work against free will. History plays a major part there, a part that can be compared to what our genes play in our biological existence. Just like there is generally no choice in deciding on the genetic pattern/condition we need, there is no choice in deciding what we are in the context of the history that defines our positions.

This may sound like a complex issue, but it is an important one when we try to label people on the basis of existing knowledge systems. It goes beyond the possibilities we count on our fingers about what traumatic experiences can cause in a child's development. It doesn't help to take the case of a so-called terrorist or suicide bomber and work backwards to see how her/his life experiences have led to the 'wrong' decisions s/he had taken in the only life at the only time s/he had, just in order to write her/him off as a causality of history.

We have more causalities around us. Our children, who are alive, and have no choice but to see what is happening around them, to read about them, to be transformed by them. In a case of being drawn into a senseless conflict, one has only two choices - to be on one side, or the other. But those choices are no choices. The real choice would have been to stay away from the senseless conflict, and to focus on something that the individual considers sensible. History draws us to that senseless conflict. Perhaps that's an existential situation, beyond human intervention. Or, is that so? If we talk about decisions, it has to be in the context of someone who is capable of taking them, someone who has choices.

Are we the grown up versions of children who were drawn to conflicts, by histories that define our existence? Is there any way in which some histories can be shaken off, or is it against the rules of Nature? If the latter is the case, we are doomed to produce a generation of no choice. They will end up repeating the cause and effect nonsense, especially if we teach them who they are and bring them up with a great sense of belonging to places and ideologies. There will always be some scores to settle, to prepare the field for a fair game. And the process of this preparation will go on endlessly, through the myriad unfair games that are part of it.

We won't be able to think of a real solution yet, unless we think a little less of what we have to pass on to children. A little less of what we believe in, what we stand for, what we fear, what we dream of, what we are entitled to, what was taken away from us, what others have done to us, what we have to do to others, what we have suffered, what we have done to cause suffering to others, what we should continue to do to cause suffering to others, what was done to our forefathers, what we have to do to their children...Oh, I am tired. I just hope some of you get the point.

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