Patton Oswalt’s beautiful and heartfelt Facebook post understandably struck a chord with a nation stunned by the carnage in Boston:
This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness. But the vast majority stands against that darkness … So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”
It is an admirable sentiment and very moving, but tragically wrong. Considering it was endorsed by hundreds of thousands of people, I wanted to offer a contrary perspective.
First, the “prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence” are not paid by the majority of us but by innocent people neglected by the rest of the world. While we go about our lives, fretting over our iPhones and apps, sports teams and celebrities, there’s Aisha and far too many like her:
13-year old Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was stoned to death in Somalia by insurgents because she was raped. Reports indicate that was raped by three men while traveling by foot to visit her grandmother in conflict capital, Mogadishu. When she went to the authorities to report the crime, they accused her of adultery and sentenced her to death. Aisha was forced into a hole in a stadium of 1,000 onlookers as 50 men buried her up to the neck and cast stones at her until she died. LINK
Second, it’s hardly a “tiny sliver of the species” that causes violence. Global military spending exceeds $1.7 trillion per year, 100 times more than annual cancer research spending. Humans are in the business of conflict and violence, some by commission, others by omission. (I had the misfortune of experiencing the awful machinery of war during my childhood in Beirut.)
Third, saying that “the vast majority stands against that darkness” is patently false. The terrible truth is that the vast majority are silent in the face of the darkness that engulfs millions. Women and girls are abused, raped, battered and murdered every second of every day while the world stands silently by. Countless children waste away and die of starvation while a handful of billionaires horde money that could feed the entire planet.
Last but not least: “so when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, ‘The good outnumber you, and we always will.'”
Don’t just look it in the eye and ‘think’. Speak up. Speak out. Donate, protest, vote your conscience, contact your elected officials, do whatever you can to end the agony and brutality that stain this earth.
And let’s start here: our drones, paid for by our tax dollars, and with our tacit approval, are ripping little children to pieces. We are creating Bostons every week, with nary a word of protest. It is an indescribable abomination.
I said it in the wake of Newtown and I’m saying it again:
Until we each take time to speak out, contribute, protest, donate, volunteer, act in opposition to the evils that rage across this planet, we are each morally culpable in our own way.