The root of modern evil: Why countries are still violent in the 21st century

By Pat Gareau

It’s not difficult to forget the terrors that exist elsewhere in the world, especially if you’re a student here at Hudson Valley. Compared to places like Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, Colombia and Mexico, the Capital Region is a cakewalk. In 2012, each of these countries saw at least 1,000 violent deaths. So why does this kind of thing happen?

The causes of violence are complex, but the moral framework that prevents violence boils down to an attitude of common respect for humanity. In places where communities have broken down, society does not provide an environment that builds trust or cultivates this mindset.

All of the countries that struggle with large scale conflict have a history of being invaded. During the age of colonization, European countries took many territories throughout the Middle East and Africa, as well as the Americas. Some, like Syria and Nigeria, only became independent states after World War II.

In places where the memories of outside rule are fresh, it is understandable that some struggle with the transition to peaceful society. It is reasonable that someone living in a former colony would hold a grudge toward the formerly ruling nation, or even the entire Western World.

This is one of the major untold challenges for countries like America in the 21st century. Al-Qaeda, as an example, sees America and Europe as evil and the current wars in the Middle East as an extension of the history of colonization.

Americans should not take for granted the United States’ status as the moral leader of the world. We have a long way to go. Just a short time ago, racial discrimination was accepted practice and is still resonant these days. We still have over 10,000 gun murders a year and lingering inequality. Our entire existence as a nation is predicated on the conquest of Native Americans.

This is a global issue and everyone is a victim. If humanity could be compared to one individual who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, then fixing our wounds would be a long process of reflection. The time to identify problems, and find solutions is upon us.

We are born into a world that has warred for hundreds of years. Many of the attitudes that are linked to full-blown exploitation still exist. How many people think about the hundreds of thousands of civilians killed in Iraq? How many acknowledge the exploitation of millions of people around the world that work for pennies so that our phones cost a little less?

The problems are deep and can only be solved with extreme care. As the leader of a hyper-connected world, the United States’ actions are very influential. Sure, the United States isn’t ultimately at fault for every death in a third world country, but, if we commit to leading from a cooperative position that honestly acknowledges past and ongoing moral deficiencies, peace and reconciliation might be accelerated. People might be less likely to hate and attack us.

If there is no effort to improve our view of ourselves and others, then we can’t expect people from foreign countries to do the same. The legacy of rampant exploitation and imperialism is still fresh in this world and we are still recovering. Creating a world of peace must include resolving these historical conflicts that are still producing violence, and replacing hatred and resentment with compassion and respect.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: