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Genocide and Gatorade Bottles

July 11, 2010

A few months ago while I was still at school, I got a very interesting call from my mother.  It started with us talking about all of the paperwork that we needed to send off to insurance companies so that they would pay me the money I deserved (which is another story in itself).  And then my mom told me about how she had gone on a bike ride a morning or two before, and there had been a pair of Imbeciles driving in a truck who decided to toss a full Gatorade bottle at her.

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By the end of the story I was shaking from anger and ready to rip off the heads of whomever had been stupid enough to chuck a full Gatorade bottle at my mother, who by the way is the most wonderful woman on earth.  And in spite of the fact that I am perfectly aware of the fact that both my mother and I are grown women, and that she is perfectly capable of taking care of herself, I still very much wanted to be immature and wreak some serious havoc.

And then today I came home from church, and of course the first thing I did was grab a roll to eat.  Which I chose mostly because it seemed healthier than the Twix bar that I was handed by a friend.  And then I automatically continued on to do what nearly every person does at some point in the day:  I got onto the computer to check my email.

While my inbox was (regrettably) empty, I did notice one thing.  A link to this article.

For anyone who doesn’t particularly want to read it, it’s about a memorial service for 775 Muslim men and boys whose bodies were found and identified using that marvelous thing called DNA.  The reason these 775 men and boys had to be identified by their DNA instead of the usual drivers license and social security number is that all of these people, and the other 8,000 people or so who have not been found yet, were all victims of genocide.

This interested me in a very grotesque sort of way.  The first thing that interested me was the similarities between a massacre at Srebrenica and the Holocaust, which was actually something I studied this last semester.  Did you know that “Genocide” wasn’t actually a word until WWII, when it was coined by someone studying/protesting what was going on in Europe?  Same thing with the term “Crimes Against Humanity,” which was coined during the Nuremburg Trials following the War.

The next thing that I found interesting actually kind of threw me off balance.  I had supposed that there hadn’t been any Crimes Against Humanity or Genocide after WWII, except for the nastiness that occurred in Rwanda.  And then I realized that both the Rwandan Genocide and the massacre in Srebrenica occurred within my lifetime.  I was three at the time of Rwanda and four at the time of Srebrenica.  And I have never really had a clue about either.

What does this all have to do with a Gatorade Bottle?

It’s all the same kind of senseless, prejudiced, violence.  Which is actually something that I was reminded of by my mother today.  (Everyone should get more advice from their mothers.  Or if not from their mothers, from my mother.  Who is probably just as good.)

Other words of wisdom from my mother:  Some of the acts of violence done in the name of God are often the most Godless acts.

Which is completely true.  The horrific things that so many people inflict upon each other in the name of their religion probably make God cringe, and he’s seen every one of them that have ever been on the earth.  It seems to me that if they had actually asked God if they should be doing something like that, he would have looked at them, given them a dirty look, and at the very least said, “Uh, no.”  And if they were smart then they wouldn’t have even begun.

It makes me wonder what drives people like that.  Is it some kind of sick fantasy that makes them believe that they’ll be heroes for what they’re doing?  Because if that’s it, all I can think is that the true heroes are the people who are willing to take people in, and the people who are willing to die for the people who are different than them.  If I ever end up in Srebrenica, I will be sure to place a flower on Rudolf Hren’s grave.

I think the more likely reason that these people are driven to do what they do is because of their own insecurities.  Especially the ones over religion, politics, and economics, to list a few.  It seems like the people who do the worst things are the people who can’t stand being the only one who believes what they do, and who can’t bear the idea of being wrong under any circumstances.

The closest thing I can think of today is the battle between science and religion.  If you’re secure in your beliefs about religion, then there’s a place for science.  If you’re secure in your beliefs about science, then there’s no qualm with religion. (Words of wisdom from my sister, the Anthropologist.  Science and Religion contained in one person.)

It’s easy enough.  If you want to stop some of the evils in the world, start small.  Take the time to understand yourself, and then move on to try to understand the rest of the world.  Once you do, there’s nothing that can truly bother you, except for (of course) people.  Just try to make sure that you’re being bothered by the malicious people, not just the people who believe something different that is fundamentally good.

And try to do what Allumer is saying.  Whatever you do, try to have some fun.  Be grateful for the little things.  Try to see what’s beautiful through the chaos.  And try to enjoy everything a long the way.  This is a do-it-yourself handbook contained in three little words:  Make life good.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 12, 2010 8:45 pm

    I can’t tell you how much I love this post, Rivenheart. I’ve been thinking about it since yesterday – so many things to talk about, no idea where to start!

    I feel for you about your mother and the bottles…was it specifically because it was your mother, or would they have thrown it at anyone?

    After the events of September 11, and more recently 7/7 in London, feelings have run high against Muslims here, too. When my mum told me of several occasions where people abused and threatened her – simply for existing – I know exactly how angry I was. Anyone who knows me will know I’m not given to violence – but if ever there was a time I would have used it, even if it was ineffectual, that was it. How dare they? How dare THEY abuse MY mother? It’s the kind of absolute white rage you can’t do anything with.

    It still happens often enough for us to always worry. At the root of all that anger is fear for her safety. You somehow wish you could always be there, to shield her and defend her from everything, no matter the cost to yourself.

    So…I hear you.

    ‘And then I realized that both the Rwandan Genocide and the massacre in Srebrenica occurred within my lifetime.’

    There’s a whole discussion in social psychology about spheres of relevance, and the way the mind filters information. Added to that is the aspect of relatability – when you don’t relate to a victim, they can’t become humanised to you. It’s why we’re more moved by, say, the 9/11 attacks, than the plight of innocent Iraqis, when they’re both terrible and unacceptable acts of destruction.

    There’s a really interesting article in the current issue of New Scientist (which I stood in the supermarket and read?), about the psychology of vengeance, here:
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727684.700-you-cant-fight-violence-with-violence.html

  2. Allumer permalink
    July 13, 2010 12:21 pm

    I wasn’t going to comment because this post is so heavy, and I’m in a rush and I didn’t think I could do it justice – or even really make any sense. But I read something in a novel this morning while eating and it struck me as apropos:

    “War likes blockheads, he thought – those too stubborn to turn aside. It dislikes nuance, hesitation, compassion.”

  3. Rivenheart permalink
    July 13, 2010 5:15 pm

    I’m afraid it is rather a heavy post, and unfortunately it’s going to get at least one very long comment from me.

    By the by, can I say that apropos is an absolutely beautiful word? And so is the quote. Very succinct and to the point.

    Saya, thank you for keeping me humble and reminding me that even my ‘righteous’ anger (I can’t be entirely wrong, because that would just be… well, I can’t be entirely wrong. XD) is a very good example of the problem that we have going on in the world.

    You know, there is a possibility that it was because it was just her, but considering her line of work and how careful she is about confidentiality and so on and so forth, it’s a very slim chance. Like, 1 in 10,000.

    Actually, our best guess is that it was because she was riding a bike. Apparently there are some people in this town who don’t care for bikers. This isn’t the first time. I remember once a county sheriff or deputy sheriff (it makes it sound like I live in the old west. Which I do) drove so close to my brother when he was riding his bike that he almost hit him with the side view mirror. In this state, you’re supposed to give a biker five feet whenever you can, which is pretty much always. In a way, just the fact that someone would throw a bottle at my mom’s head just because she’s riding a bike enrages me even more.

    It’s just so petty!!!

    And obviously, you already know about petty because there are people in London being rude (I’m being polite when I say “rude”) because of a jilbab. That’s just as sad of an excuse as being rude because of a bike.

    *Smiles* One of my friends and I have a sort of joke about how he’s a provider and I’m a protector. The difference: He’s a social butterfly. But I would actually like to point out that this was drawn from that one personality test by Carl Jung, and since he spent his whole life figuring it out, I won’t dispute him. I’ve always had a thing for protecting the underdog though. Even when I didn’t like the person. :o)

    I don’t know. I’m never quite sure how well I relate to anyone, although I think sometimes it’s easier to relate to someone on the other side of an ocean than it is to relate to the person sitting right next to you. In a way, this whole blog thing is evidence of that, isn’t it? And yes, I am waxing both philosophical and sappy at the same time. Pretty impressive, eh?

    That’s a fabulous article. Everyone should read it.

    In the Book of Mormon there’s a story about a group of people who grew up believing that they had to fight their brethren because of some ancient wrongs that their fathers believed had been done to them. Which, in a way, they had. A part of this group of brethren had some very fine missionaries come to visit them and teach the gospel, and they were converted. Which the rest of their group did not like at all. What impresses me about this story is that when this little group of people was converted, they decided to quite literally bury their weapons of war. And when their brothers came down to kill them, they knelt and prayed and let their brethren kill them. Many of their brethren were so shocked by what they were seeing that they dropped their weapons and prayed with them, so by the end of the battle there were more people on their knees than there were when it had started.

    I don’t think I ever really appreciated that story when I was young. I guess I always wondered why they didn’t fight, probably just because I would have fought. And I probably still would fight. But I think I’m finally coming to the realization of what kind of courage it takes to kneel down and pray instead of rise up and fight.

    It makes me wonder though… what was it that they were praying for? Not necessarily as a group, but just as individual people. Was it for the courage to remain on their knees? Or was it for the sake of their brethren? Either way (or both ways), I think it worked.

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