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[casi] !OT Re: ...posts: empathy, pain, propaganda

On Mon, 21 Jul 2003 07:48:29 -0400 nagy <> writes:
>   With the death of Dr. Kelly and the "Bill of Rights" >and even the
BBC on the ropes, and most to scared to >offer even an opinion (except
perhaps on sports), I think >the question should be how do we get and
retain people >who will work actively.

One thing I've found over some 35 years of volunteer works in various
venues is that everyone has different interests and abilities, and yet
can form a group which accomodates that and still moves towards the goal.
Subcommittees are useful in this. The old BBS systems had conferences
with special topic headings, and sometimes over lap or moving threads
from one to another, such as between religions and philosophy.

Perhaps the CASI list can evolve in a similar way, with subsections for
media news, reports from the field, stats and records clearing house,
publicity, politics, general discussion, etc.? The Iraq/peace movement
should have access to organizational methods as good as the invaders.

>Framed this way, it's hard to see hardliners if they care >about Iraqi
chidren (and I certainly hope and believe >they do), object. Or is even
the matter of effectiveness >and purpose to end the abomination against
the people
>of Iraq (in what everform, sanctions, bombs, or
>occupation) taboo?

Iraq as case in point: it is possible that some people have interest in
defeating imperialism but little empathy for people or children. Others
might be have pity but not be able to dwell on the suffering, but choose
to work by accumulating facts or doing political analysis. Some can go
there and be personally involved. Me, aside from other limitations, it
would drive me crazy to be around people, especially children, mangled
and in pain. I've already had nightmares just from hearing about it.

>   Are we to induge in the lethal fantasy that all that's >necessary in
our perfect US/UK "democracies" is to lay >the facts on the table? If
this nonsensical view had >merit, then the crisis would have ended more
than a
>decade ago.

Quite right. It - the war of fog, propaganda -- is only part
informational: the bulk is emotional, prejudicial, and belief oriented.
We must be careful, however, and take human psychology into account.
Millions of people will be transfixed by the story of a one little girl
gone missing or trapped in a mineshaft, and totally ignore thousands of
children roasted in war. It's not just a question of "one of us or one of
them", but of the way the mind gravitates towards symbolic
representation, which can be moderated, but avoids the overburdening hell
of carnage. This is what turns so many soldiers into basket cases --
destroys their lives.

>   Is it possible that there is a lack of empathy and >perhaps sneering
at those of us who have had our careers >ruined if not severely
compromised by our work on Iraq?

>    Must we die (or me made dead) before, it becomes >legitimate to
raise these issues?

I think not. We must remember, however, that we each form our own
personal realities, and prioritize thoughts according to our specific
makeup and circumstances. Real, universal empathy, would drive anyone
insane, or kill them outright. Tolerance for *great* empathy seems to me
to be one criteria for "sainthood" -- the ability to endure the real
knowledge of the suffering of others. It is not for the average person.
Yet, the average person can do some part in the work, and even then must
often struggle to endure the strain of reaching out.

For many in the US, even acknowledging the horror of the current
administration and the evil behind it is too painful to accept, and
elicits great anger. One might find more resentment towards the peace
worker as the facts emerge, and people are forced to confront them, than
before the war when we could be dismissed as weirdos.

They don't want to know the truth -- it's too disruptive to their small
comfortable world. They are like children, intellectually and emotionally
-- never properly grown up -- and are traumatized by it. I was once
involved in combatting scandalous corruption in a childrens'
organization, and we continuously complained to other adult memebers of
it. Some years later, when the bad guys were gone -- kicked upstairs --
the struggle was mentioned at a get together and several "ostriches",
heads just emerging from the sand a bit, asked why they were never told
about it at the time!

Why is it so hard to tell Americans that *their* government's policies
are killing thousands of people -- children -- through slow torture? If
they accepted the truth of it, what unpleasant things would they be
compelled by conscience to do? Easier not to hear it. For a message to be
heard (by most people) -- to have propaganda or anti-propaganda value --
it must be something that people have a motive for accepting into their
awareness. Sometimes it can be "I know something most people don't", but
"I know something terrible which most don't, and I can't do anything
about it" is painful, frustrating -- maybe destructive.

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