I’ve been reading the horrific spate of bombings just this week, and recounting with terror, the images of bombings that have penetrated our consciousness through much of the past two decades at least, some in recollecting Hiroshima, lest we forget, but most notably in recent times, the never ending images from 07/07, 9/11, and in the drone attacks, the attacks on Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the bombings at the Boston Marathon just two days ago.
I was in London two weeks before the July bombs rocked the city. Everything changed soon after that, in how we viewed media capitalisation of violations, and in how the media coloured the analysis. An act of violence occurs, media fire catches and in a second, we’re engaging in a social media warfare of depravity pretending to take the moral high road. Do all we care about is who has the best way to tell the story? Who’s right vs who’s wrong? Really?
Having relabelled these incidences as acts of terror, and quite rightly so, is to affirm that bombings, as any seasoned drone striker/mass murderer or architect of genocide might know, intend to do more than just commit the crime of killing. We can bandy the merits of state vs insurgent terror. The who. The what. But the why is simple. The greater and more enduring effect of a bomb placed in the midst of an unassuming civilian locale is to render that space uninhabitable.
Sociologists and crowd psychologists cite the notion of verbal milling of the herd, like cattle milling together in a storm. The psyche is so deeply marred, so violated and so terrorised that the impact of the bomb on the collective conscious will continue to be felt for immeasurable time. Locals will redirect their routes to avoid it, or make stops only to place wreaths of grief. Visitors to the affected area will continue to hear tales regaled with more horror, tears, pain. The trauma tank has been effectively refuelled. Voter imagination hasn’t been captured, it’s been numbed to beyond reasonable thought regardless of who and why the murders have taken place.
The numbers, to the designer of such evil, are insignificant. Two or three in Boston, 50 in Iraq, or 33 in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Limbs blown off children’s bodies? Collateral damage. The real deal is the echo of terror and fear. Evil has no colour, no spirit, no creed. But it will make the political personal with a trendy label, and call itself by name of some or other god or godlessness, choosing one or other, wherever the market chips might fall.
But what of the collective trauma of violence, continuing violations that fail to reach resolute end, that are used as mechanisms to foster terror and violence among citizens, creating further divisions on the basis of whatever might divide us, superficially, structurally, politically, pseudo ideologically. The post colonies make legacy of the divide and rule rhetoric, and we continue to fuel and feed the self-terrorising.
Violence begets violence. Was the human race designed to self-destruct or have we stopped seeing ourselves as sum of parts? We’re all to blame. We’re all in this. The ones keeping silent, and the complaining, chattering bunch of slaving taxpayers. We’re all the complicit victim, and the obedient violator. We feed and are fuelled by terror. We drink in media and cluck tongues like babies suckling off a surrogate goat. We retell this week’s tale, forgetting last week’s headlines. We feed off it. We fuel its malaise. We’re essentially part of the problem. As if that validates the collective trauma? It does nothing to change the tide. We violate, whilst insisting that we are being violated. What a shameful bunch we’ve become. Alas.