A frightening world | Inquirer Opinion

A frightening world

12:30 AM October 13, 2023

I am one like millions of others around the world who have been watching the deadly drams in Israel. And like most, I was horrified at the barbarism that has taken over humans. After the initial horror has been a deepening sadness that pierces my heart. I have not only seen death and destruction that communications technology and social media platforms distribute so quickly to a global audience; I am also seeing much more coming.

It is not as though we did not see it coming. The conflict between Israel and Palestine is not new; in fact, it is historical. This conflict is also just a slice in a greater conflict covering the whole Middle East which, too, is historical. By historical I mean over a long period of time way beyond hundreds to thousands instead. And before any of us thinks it is a conflict between Christians and Muslims, let us remember the infighting between these tribes and countries way before Jesus and Mohammed.

If we do not try to expand our understanding of the Middle East and the different players of that region, we will be left highlighting details of an enduring conflict and miss the essential current underlying the present and future dynamics. In other words, considering the constant violence that has bloodied deserts, mountains, and rivers in the Middle East, there is really nothing new. But, then, again, nothing new simply means that an unbroken vicious cycle will produce many more deaths and destruction, and more barbaric expressions of hate.

At one point in time, one aggressor was the beast who massacred the enemy. At another point in time, the enemy had his chance at his aggressor and outperformed him in brutality. Today, great nations that have turned against the beast in them struggle to raise the finer spirit of humanity. They still falter and fall, but they continue their advocacy for tolerance, for peace. These same nations have had their moments in history when they were the aggressors, and now choose to be students of a better humanity.

Today, however, in the specific conflict of the Israelis against the Palestinians, and the horrifying attack by Hamas over the last weekend, the march for a better humanity will take a pause. I believe that it will even take a step or two back, or worse.

The Hamas have played out their cards. What remains after they had massacred the civilians, especially elderly, the women, and the children in numbers that are now hovering in the one thousand level? Maybe 150 hostages. The terrorists will squeeze more terror and pain from these hostages but it will not be enough to stop an enraged people, the Israeli government, and an embarrassed military from opening a new dam of death and destruction.

The whole world will be watching a bloody drama play its hand out. We should pay close attention and imagine beyond what we will see to what can happen anywhere, to any people and nation. Because the beast in us has found complementation with destructive technology and will use it while blinded with rage and driven by vengeance. We are watching through televisions, laptops, and mobile phones but should be alert that the consequences of this terrible act of terrorism will be worse, and will affect us soon enough.

I fear for the innocent in Gaza. Lives will be cheap then, and the great density of the population will not stop the bloodshed; instead, it will feed the numbers of the dead and wounded in the days and weeks to come. Israel will make a show of respecting the rules of engagement and human rights, but not if these get in the way of their retaliation.

And Israel will not stop at their borders. The hate generated and fed against them is not confined to Israel and Palestine. Soon, Israel will find the connections between Hamas and those who aided them. The war or retribution, then, will cross many borders. Because today, what has Israel got to lose? Its citizens are passionately hungry for revenge, and they will try to exact it with all they have.

The violent conflagration will be regional and will have global repercussions, too. I am not talking about economic consequences, I am talking about violence that will spread across many countries. If the world had been concerned about the unpredictability of a country like North Korea and what it can trigger globally, then we should all be prepared for an Israel that will be more predictable, but maybe more destructive.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and its consequences have whetted the appetite for war. Russia is trying to bring in China and North Korea, not only its neighbors who were once part of the Soviet bloc. Ukraine has been able to bring in NATO, the EU, and the United States. In other words, everyone is on alert, one step before a war footing. China also has its hand in raising the prospects of war by making expansionist claims through its not 10-dash line. The Israel-Hamas fight today is not in isolation, it is raising the temperature of a world already going mad.

And here we are in the Philippines grappling with our own drama over poverty, corruption, and inept politics as though the world will stand still for us to fix our own problems. No, the world will be in tension and our dependence on the world will stress us to a breaking point. Borrowing to ease our stress is a current option but not for long because we have a long list of competitors for global economic assistance.

The only way for us is to begin with urgency a national drive to stand on our own two feet, to be as self-sufficient as we can be. Yet, we will never start that because our leaders are too busy fighting over the imaginary spoils of the next presidency. Tomorrow will not be pleasant for them, nor for us. 

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