Columns

May 22, 2024

Gaza and the rest of us: An impulse towards humanity and civilized conduct, by Usman Sarki

Gaza and the rest of us: An impulse towards humanity and civilized conduct, by Usman Sarki

IT is a forlorn hope and an unattainable dream to expect the West to conduct its affairs according to the impulse of humanity and principles of humanising behaviours that are intrinsic to other nations and peoples. For too long, the West had relied on force as a driving impulse in its conception of relations with other peoples and civilizations, that it is incapable of altering its norms, trends, philosophy, culture and even economic arrangements, away from conflict and towards peace and harmony.

This much, we can see in the calculated, cynical and bloody atrocities in Gaza carried out by Israel with the sanction of the West and the blessing of major Western leaders. It was not for nothing that Joseph Conrad wrote in regards to the West the following disturbing observations : “The trouble of the civilised world is the want of a common conservative principle abstract enough to give the impulse, practical enough to form the rallying point of international action tending towards the restraint of particular ambitions”.

It is the absence of forces that provide a “restraint of particular ambitions”, that saw to the unleashing of wholesale death and devastation in Gaza, and the posture of the Western countries with their bristling armadas of aircraft carriers, warships, nuclear powered submarines, missile launchers and what have you, that they quickly and impulsively deployed to the Red Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf, to anticipate and deter any “hostile” actions against Israel, while it carried out its licentious aggression against the defenseless people of Gaza.

The West today stands between universal peace and perpetual wars and conflict. It refuses to recognise the impulse towards accommodation and embraces the posture of dominance and arbitrary diktat in accordance with its imperialist past and inherited attitude of dominance. It is this posture that created the instability that we have been witnessing all over the world whether in the outlook towards China or Russia or North Korea or, for that matter, towards Iran, Syria, Yemen and Palestine.

The West has never developed the habit of understanding others from the perspective of the intrinsic values and psychological attributes of these “others”, but always, and invariably, from its own constructs about them as devised from the “Western” value systems of political conformity and ideological uniformity that are rooted in the belief in superiority of Western values, ideas and systems.

This sterilisation of ideas and dead uniformity of norms that have been developed since the Napoleonic times through the period of wholesale colonisation of Africa and Asia, has created a deadened sensation and detached feeling towards the suffering of others and the justification of gross and egregious atrocities against them, such that today, more than 40,000 Palestinians among them children, the elderly and new born babies in incubators, will be massacred without remorse and no consequences will ensue.

Rather, the Western conception of itself and the justification of its values provide the sanitisers with which they could cleanse their bloodied fingers and hands, through the invocation of “democracy” and “self-defense”, to deny the victims of this horror the humanity by which they could be judged and seen, and their entitlement to peace and dignity as humans. The purpose of this denial is to prevent their extrication from the situation of wholesale massacre and to allow the perpetrators not only to conduct their mass murder at their own leisure and pace, but also to go scot-free afterwards!

It is this want of a “common conservative principle” as seen by Joseph Conrad towards life and dignity of peoples, which is neither abstract enough to conceive peace, nor practical enough to form the rallying point towards international action to demand peaceful coexistence, that we must stand up against while seeking to achieve justice and common levels of treatment to all people at the same time without discrimination or preferences. Without such an outlook, the ideas of universal peace and a conflict-free world can never be achieved!

Lest we forget, nations and peoples do get away with crimes even of murder and genocide, as it has happened to the Palestinian people not once or twice or thrice but several times. In this lamentable regard, Joseph Conrad wrote, “Thus even a crime may become a moral agent by the lapse of time and the course of history. Progress leaves its dead by the way, for progress is only a great adventure as its leaders and chiefs know very well in their hearts. It is a march into an undiscovered country; and in such an enterprise the victims do not count.”

It is our moral duty as human beings not to allow our humanity to be defined by cold-hearted feelings of policy, but by abstract and edifying principles of humanism and empathy, cultivated by our innate systems of being, as Africans, as Asians, as Latin Americans and others, and not by the dead and unfeeling sense of practical “realism” of the West, that panders to the taste of aggrandisement and seizure of other’s inheritance and properties.

We must strive to ensure that the victims of mass atrocities, of crimes against humanity, of wars, of wanton state-sponsored brutality, of humiliation, of arbitrary and condescending ill-treatment, and of all other egregious and terrible human rights violations, do count and their strained voices are heard around the world. Palestine must not be left alone to its unhappy fate. Palestine must be saved from the calculated and clinical barbarity of the occupiers and usurpers, and in doing so, exonerate ourselves from the judgement of posterity that will be as cold and as pitiless as the conduct of the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity!