It was fairly common to hear central Kentucky residents describe the aftermath of our recent ice storm as being “like a war zone”. I didn’t give the expression much thought, but in a column in this morning’s Lexington Herald Leader, Shelly Slatin Hancock appropriately criticizes this comparison.
Ms. Hancock makes a point that I have expressed here before: the people of this nation are remarkably oblivious to the enormous human suffering inflicted on other populations as a result of our military actions, although extremely sensitive to much smaller problems in our own country. When something like the World Trade Center bombings happen to our nation, we grieve for years. Yet we don’t even flinch at the thought of inflicting far greater destruction on another country, over and over and over.
People here whine about having their electricity cut off for a week or two. Sure, that’s an inconvenience. But to compare it to a “war zone” really does show a totally callous lack of compassion towards the victims of real war. I’m sure that any number of Iraqis or Afghans, who are living in a real war zone despite having done nothing to harm anyone, would be glad to trade places with a poor Lexington family huddled in their cold house waiting for the electricity to be turned back on.
This is what baffles me most about some people’s eagerness to wage war. There may be occasions where there really is no alternative. But, even in those cases, innocent people are going to suffer and die, not just have their power shut off for a while. How can people be so willing for that to happen without searching for alternatives? Is it because they really do have no clue what a real war zone is like? Or do they just not care about the suffering of those whose skin is a different color?