For the past few months, I have written articles based on songs that have set up camp in my mind, egging me on until I give them a different kind of voice, including John Lennon’s song, Imagine, and Tom Petty’s song, The Waiting. For the past week or so, my mind has repeated just one tuneless phrase: Collateral Damage. Maybe, it’s because of the latest conflict my country, the United States, is having with Iran and the attacks on each other that have plastered the news.
My article is a longer piece than I usually write, but this subject is too important to skim over. I wholeheartedly appreciate anyone who will take the time to read this through. Instead of five or ten minutes of your time, today, I am asking for fifteen.
We see stark changes today that are unearthing our shadow sides that are coming out to rectify our collective human soul. I feel humanity is coming to a decision point on which road we will take that will set our future in stone. I hope my message will be heard and considered ahead of whatever we will be facing.
Thankfully, as far as I know, there has been no collateral damage reported from the current threat—just military people. And here, I don’t know what I am even thankful for. People died. Yes, they are considered bad people, so no harm was really done, right? They took more than enough lives to warrant their own. It was justified. The pang in the pit of my stomach tells me this isn’t true in a hopeful future.
What popped out at me during the news reports after Iran retaliated was our knee-jerk reaction to go right to the stock markets and see if we lost any money that day. How will Wallstreet react? Oh great, the markets didn’t drop! Investors dollars spared-the haves keep on having! Have we come to this norm that dollars are more important than lives? A little later, we got the report that no one was injured, whew! And then that began to change days later as reporters delved deeper into the story to find there were injuries, but, still, no collateral damage for now. The trouble is I am not sure what to believe anymore, and herein lies a great danger to our world because it is this distrust that can lead to fanaticism, and we see it happening.
The phrase collateral damage has always irked me, especially when it is used casually by military and government leaders or pundits during these unending years of wars. Collateral damage—injury inflicted on something other than the intended target. This sounds neat and clean, but do we understand the actual cost to humanity itself? I believe the price is deeply disturbing on our collective soul level.
Can we believe that the loss of life, property, and the sense of safety that wreaks havoc on those involved and their extended families and towns does not create collateral damage that comes back at us at some point? Do we believe we won’t pay for the thousands of drops of blood and tears shed by innocent victims?
How many times have we read about a bombed wedding party or section of neighborhood in a far-off land listed as collateral damage? It’s more times than I can count! What kind of toll does this collateral damage have on those innocent victims? Here is what I see as the real cost to this collateral damage:
- Extreme collateral damage causes the loss of life, shelter, and, in some cases, basic survival needs that paralyzes the human spirit.
- The loss of provider income or caregiver takes a significant toll on the family and the local economy.
- Emotional instability from grief and fear causes the inability to work, learn, sleep, and eat. Individual and group health and productivity plummets, or worse, creates a retaliation mindset.
- The loss of trust in government, other countries, the press, and even neighbors and friends create a more dangerous world.
- Resentment of the attacker, even if the victims were against their government’s actions or positions, spark counter-reactions that stall progress for democracy and peace.
What toll would it take on your loved ones, if you happened to be the unlucky one, the dispensable human for a justified cause? What if it was your father or mother or wife or husband or child? How would your world be turned upside down? Imagine having to live with bombs going off over your head every day or burying half of your relatives in one day. Could you keep a positive attitude about life and the world around you? Imagine losing your wife, who was not only the love of your life but the person taking care of your home and children, and taking care of your mother or father in their old age? Imagine losing your father and the only income for the household and destroying your hopes of higher education and a better life in a second. Imagine living without water or electricity for months and months from the collateral damage. At what point would you decide that collateral damage was an unacceptable standard?
I know all the arguments that will be coming at me. I have heard them many times before: humans will always have war, you can’t change how people act, some bad players must be taken out at all cost, you are naïve to think things will change. There’s many more, but these are the top remarks.