I was as appalled as anybody to hear about the bombings that took place along the finish line to the Boston marathon yesterday afternoon that has (so far) claimed the lives of three people, including an eight year old boy, as well as injuring over 170 others, a number of them seriously.
While learning about the event through my Twitter stream I noticed a number of people questioning humanity and civilisation, which I believe we all do when focused acts of violence occur, whether an act of terrorism, rape, or any other seemingly motiveless display in which a human being takes away life from another.
But this isn’t the big picture. In fact, this doesn’t represent humanity and civilisation in the slightest, not in the twenty-first century.
Yesterday I noticed a tweet that had been retweeted by somebody I follow simply stating “If anyone figures out what the fuck is wrong with people, let me know.” I feel this is entirely the wrong question to ask.
There is nothing wrong with people. As a people, citizens of the world, we’re so far ahead of our ancestors it’s barely calculable. This point is perfectly illustrated by the hundreds of first-responders and off-duty doctors and nurses that came to the rescue yesterday afternoon. No doubt every fibre of their body was telling them to run, to get as far away from the perceived danger zone as possible, but instead they ran into the madness, risking their own lives to help random strangers see another day of their own.
There is nothing wrong with people. People are fucking incredible.
Soon afterwards I saw another tweet stating “We’ve been at this civilisation thing for about 10,000 years. It feels like we should have gotten better by now.”
We have, we’ve gotten significantly better, and when you take the time to flick through the history books this becomes instantly apparent. I’m by no means saying we’re perfect now, there will always be room for improvement, but as a civilisation, as human beings, we are storming along the right track at an incredible speed.
Last year Peter Moore, a British IT consultant in Iraq who, after being kidnapped in May of 2007, became the longest held hostage in the country (two and a half years), did a Reddit AMA (ask me anything) in which he stated if it has been his call, he wouldn’t have exchanged himself for Iraqi militia, an act which ultimately secured his freedom.
It’s hard to argue with his logic. This had always been my thoughts on this matter, whether I chose to verbalise them or not. Whether we’re referring to pirates out at sea or militia on the ground, when it comes to a kidnapping, the only logical way to stop these events from occurring is to ignore the kidnappers demands. Sure, you may end up with a string of dead tourists and IT consultant here and there, but eventually these pirates and militia will realise their tactics no longer work, and the kidnappings will stop.
Logically, this sounds ideal. But we’re not logical beings, and we’re much better off for it.
After Peter made his comment, somebody replied to him pointing out that the fact he was rescued is what makes humanity great. We (humanity as a whole) are not like the tiny percentage of people who are intent on pulling us apart. We’ll go back and rescue those in need, like the British government did for Peter, and like hundreds of first responders, doctors, and nurses did for the dying and injured yesterday afternoon in Boston.
To us, civilisation is the goal. Whatever your political leanings, we don’t want to live in a world where it’s every man for himself. We grapple, we go through hell just to ensure we all stay together, and though this may not be the best strategic move when it comes to winning wars and disempowering kidnappers, it’s certainly our shining light when it comes to humanity.
Amidst all the drama and speculation on my Twitter stream yesterday, my friend Abby posted the following quote by Gandhi, a quote which perfectly sums up my feelings about the whole event:
You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. — Mahatma Gandhi
There’s no need for us to live in fear. We are the driving force in this whole conversation. Humanity has never been stronger, and however much they try, the tiny percentage of people who try their best to pull us apart, time and time again, are only going to end up disappointed.
We’re stronger than them, and if anything, they should be fearing us.
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