Friday, August 19, 2016

"Tout va très bien Madame la Marquise"

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"Tout va très bien Madame la Marquise", says the classic French song. Everything is perfectly fine, madame la Marquise, everything is going very well. Syria is in ruins. 50,000 children have died since the war started. We cry today, we forget tomorrow, and life goes on.

How easy we cry, and how easy we forget. How easy it is to manipulate our feelings. To move our hearts in this or that direction. And when the heart moves, the head shortly follows.

We are irrational beings. We are not led by reason, but by emotions. Every now and then, we’re shown a shocking image, we are told when to cry and who to cry over. Not because what happened was tragic, but because public opinion needs to be swayed to fit some political agenda. Noam Chomsky called it "Manufacturing Consent".

We need to cry, but no too much, and not for too long. Our brief sadness and anger can’t change into a resolute will for peace. Wars need to continue. Big business is at stake. When it suits the war-makers of this world, we are called upon to express our humanity. When it doesn’t, we’re kindly requested to look away and worry about the Kardashian's next photo op.

But what about our responsibility in all this? Are we so easily manipulated, or does our compassion outbursts only exist to appease our conscience at very little cost? A few outraged words on social media to go with the trending photo of day, and all our guilt is washed away. Redemption by Facebook.

More than 50,000 thousand children are believed to have died in Syria since the war started. While 7.5 million others were directly affected by the conflict: displaced, wounded, imprisoned, tortured, or turned into sex slaves. 7.5 million, over three times the population of Paris! Why didn’t we cry over them? What were we doing for five long years?

The unspeakably heartbreaking image of Aylan Kurdi’s tiny body on a beach came to remind us that war is, and always will be, an absolute horror. We all screamed and cried when we saw it. But that was a year ago. What did we do since?

Why did we let the war continue without launching a thousand protests throughout the world? What’s our excuse? What can we possibly say to the little boy, barely older than the war, miraculously saved from the rubbles in Aleppo? That we’re busy with Trump’s buffooneries or taken by the whole French burkini hoo-hah, or maybe chasing Pokemons?

Perhaps if Syrian children were called Pikatchu, we’d care a little more. Maybe we’d do something, anything, to stop this war. But they’re not Pokemons. So the war will continue, more children will die, even more will suffer, et tout va très bien Madame la Marquise.

Syrian boy holding a Pokemon image:
"I live in Kafarnabel in the provence of Idlib, come and save me"


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful article, and I totally get you, but i guess the question is: what can we do? and isn't facebook the only media we have, to feel some kind of control over this? No matter how dellusional, isn't it a way we deeply need, to reject this unbearable truth? And if we didn't have it, would things be any different?