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I have trouble with the idea of life being a black and white movie. Good and Evil. Us vs. Them. Heroes and villains.

In nature, a jaguar attacks a gazelle. While not so good from the point of view of the gazelle, the jaguar thinks it’s OK.

From the point of view the British Government, the Syrian massacre is a litmus test of evil. Thus they summoned the top Syrian diplomat in London to tell him so. But is it?

No matter what we think, from the point of view of the terrorist, such actions are justified. Does that make it justified? No. Does it make it right? No. Does it make the Syrian government absolute evil? No.

How can I say this?

It seems to me that American, NATO and coalition forces have killed many, many children and women over the past few years during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and also using killer drones in Pakistan and Yemen. Is the British or U.S. government weeping over these deaths? Are they justified? Depends on who you ask. Are they right? Depends on who you talk to.

Who is the role model for the Syrian forces that kill women and children? Is it Al Qaeda? Is it Americans? Is it both?

You might say, ‘they struck first.’ But did they? To the Palestinian, the root cause for much of the Middle East’s woes is the insistence on a Jewish State, and that was the ‘first blow.’ Prior to the Jewish State, Palestinians and Jews had no problem co-existing for hundreds of years. The point is not to bash Israel. The point is that the question ‘who struck first’ is ultimately futile.

At Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two nuclear devices killed tens of thousands, among of which were women and children. Do we weep for those women and children? Were the acts justified? It seems some very well-respected Presidents ordered those killings.

My point is this. Evil is more often than not a point of view, as is good. My experience tells me that huffing and puffing about good and evil gets people ready for war. It is generally, usually, a manipulation. It is a manipulation to get people emotionally wound up so that we can go to battle convinced of our righteousness.

That’s what is happening now.

Let’s get this straight. To a large extent the greatest butchers of all time have been the ‘civilized’ west. We don’t blink an eye when decimating the American Indians, Iraqi civilians, Pakistanis, Vietnamese and others.

We will probably not blink an eye in killing a few thousand Syrians, should it come to that.

Does it need to come to that?

Isn’t there a better way? I for one believe there is. We must envision a new world where killing of innocent women and children no longer occurs, so that we no longer feel the need to retaliate. We must create a better world where dialog, mutual respect and collaboration are embedded into international dealings and institutionalized as the only and best approach.

If we do not do this, war will always be the destiny of humankind.


D.R. Thompson’s is a producer, playwright and essayist. His latest book of essays is A World Without War.

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