A subtle but dangerous concept ebbs and flows through the conscious of America. Hardly recognizable til you stop and stare, until the tragedies of life strike and elicit a response, until the response of the world is covered hour by hour in the press, the value of life is not considered consistently.
Certainly there is value associated to the lives of Americans–no one would oppose that notion. The fault though is that the lives of Americans are considered more valuable than our counterparts abroad. No man would confess to such a belief, but the coverage of the media, the conversation of society, and the actions of many dictate otherwise.
Consider that a recent building collapse in Bangladesh has hardly elicited a media response, much less a volatile response from Americans at large (see here and here). Even though over 1,100 people have died–more than 1/3 of 9/11, nearly 2/3 that of Hurricane Katrina, and 42 times more fatalities than Sandy Hook–no one seems to care. It should also be noted that the workers likely died making American clothing.
Even more concerning is the nonexistent media coverage for an injustice as prevalent as drone strikes against foreign nations. Since 2004, American drone strikes have killed 3115 people in Pakistan, just 47 of whom were high profile targets. Also include in the fatalities is 710 children and civilians (more information here). And even though our nation routinely bombs other nations without the slightest of guilt, our hearts are broken by tragedies in Boston. It is only right to mourn for the tragic loss of life in Boston just as it is only right to mourn the loss–American and otherwise–abroad.
And though these two separate examples of lives lost is not enough, one can say with certainty that there are far more conflicts ensuing worldwide than we can fathom. In the heart of the third world, the media is no where to be found and systemic issues acts as genocide–wiping out entire generations slowly but surely, quietly yet dangerously. Be it poverty in Guatemala, AIDS in Swaziland, or child soldiers in Uganda, death is a disease, an epidemic that forms no response until it either affects us personally, or until tragedy strikes close enough that we fear it may happen to ourselves.
Consider confronting the realities of nations abroad such as Afghanistan or Syria.
(More photos found here)
I recognize that neither the United States nor the United Nations can get involved in every conflict. To expect such grand involvement in the world’s affairs is unrealistic. But the volitional reaction and accompanying actions must improve from a putrid state of apathy to concern for the lives of others.