Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Seeds of Violence

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Peshawar, Paris, Beirut- these are not one-off, isolated, contained pockets of dysfunction. They mirror something very fundamental about the human condition as a whole.

Violence is not merely the use of force. It is not the child of the battlefield, or the killing of innocents; it is not the use of firearms or fists. Violence is the seed planted in our drawing rooms and over our dining tables, in our classrooms and our marketplaces, in our sermons and our TV studios.

Every single time we glorify the 'self' and dehumanize the 'other'- by virtue, by race, by ethnicity, by nationality, by caste, by religion, by sex, by income group- the seed of violence is planted:

I am better than you, I am more than you, my worth is higher, because I am Muslim, and you are not OR, because I am NOT Muslim, and you ARE. I am more than you, my house is such, my family is such, my face is such, my degrees, my job, my, my, my, my . . .

Every time I make the choice that my primary relationship with you is by any of these things, rather than by the life that flows through your veins and mine, I have planted the seed of violence. I have set myself up for manipulation by those who understand this, those who know that the terms between you and me are material, not human. And in that moment I have glorified myself, and dehumanized your worth. And in that moment I have planted the seed for another Peshawar, another Paris, another Beirut.

We are each one responsible for the reverence we give to human life and human dignity.

And unless we respond to these wake-up calls - they will keep coming.

*Haneen Khalid, representative for Global Zero and founder of Progressive Youth Alliance, is a humanitarian focused on global solidarity, peace and nuclear disarmament. Recently, Miss Khalid spoke to hundreds of people on behalf of Global Zero in Karachi, Pakistan in a related CNN iReport.

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