Enough war — a millennial’s take on the matter
Where are we, as a species, going? Were we not supposed to be the best amongst God’s creation? Were we not given intellect? Were we not given intelligence?
I'm appalled. I've grown up seeing global violence escalate. I was born just a few months before the Kargil war. The day I came back home from my first day at kindergarten, 9/11 occurred. After that, Afghanistan was invaded. Then came Iraq. I remember seeing the worst of what terrorism has done to Pakistan, when suicide bombings were almost an anticipated event, something that could happen anytime, anywhere.
I remember the military operation in Swat, at a time when I was merely ten years old. I remember the constant flow of impoverished IDPs from Swat to across the nation. I remember the start of the Arab Spring, when a man set himself on fire in Tunisia back in December 2010. I remember the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, the short-lived government of Morsi, and his subsequent overthrow.
I remember the NATO airstrikes in Libya. I remember the killing of Gaddafi. I remember the use of violence against protesters in Damascus by Bashar's forces. I vividly remember Hillary Clinton saying that the US would not intervene in Syria back in 2011, something that made me question the Libyan intervention back then. I remember Osama bin Laden allegedly being killed by a US SEAL team in Abbottabad, in a seemingly-unilateral operation.
I recall the massacre at APS Peshawar, on the sixteenth of December, 2014. I shall always remember the faces of shock and horror everyone had at school the next day, when my class turned up inadequately prepared for a Chemistry mock exam. I remember the spread of fear across the country for weeks after the massacre. I remember how Operation Zarb-e-Azb was ramped up after the attacks. I remember how Imran Khan hastily called an end to his dharna, such was the shock.
I remember reading news of drone strikes on the leftmost newspaper column on the front page almost every other day when I was in lower secondary school. I remember the not-so-Islamic State of Iraq and Syria establish a self-proclaimed caliphate. I remember no less than two brutal wars between Hamas and Israel, and have lived through all four wars.
I remember Aylan Kurdi's lifeless body plastered over newspapers worldwide, evoking a wave of sympathy for Syrian refugees displaced by the conflict. Alas, that was but a temporary wave. I've since seen Merkel's ratings plummet, and the ratings of far-right parties soar exponentially.
I remember the Paris attacks, the Brussels attacks, the series of attacks in Istanbul and Ankara, the Crimean conflict, the downing of MH17 over Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. I remember the US airstrikes on a Médecins Sans Frontières-operated hospital in Kunduz.
I remember a lot more, which I have no heart to state.
More recently, I have seen airstrikes on the last standing hospital in Aleppo — the al-Quds hospital, an attack which has triggered a wave of red profile pictures on Facebook, coupled with a variety of hashtags, notably #AleppoIsBurning. (This is also something that pains me. Have our senses of outrage, our attempts for change, and our condemnation become limited to mere hashtags and symbolic profile pictures alone?)
This is where I want to speak out. Did we start noticing Aleppo on the twenty-eighth of April, 2016? Did Aleppo start burning on the twenty-eighth of April, 2016?
It's been FIVE YEARS. YES, FIVE WHOLE YEARS. And here we have the human race in general posting hashtags with red profile pictures only after the last hospital in Syria's second city was blown up.
I remember back in second grade, a teacher of mine went vacationing in Syria. That's less than a decade ago. Yes, it's less than a decade back that Western tourists used to frequent Syria. Today, I see that only two years of the Syrian civil war have lead to more innocent blood spilled than the amount twenty years of the Israel-Palestine conflict managed to spill. Heck, the death toll for Aleppo alone in the last week has been over 100, despite there being a "ceasefire".
The history I've painted of the last eighteen years is the reason why I, as a millennial, am starting to lose faith in humanity. We, homo sapiens, are supposed to be the most intelligent species to roam the planet. I fail to see the intelligence we are supposed to have as a species when we've murdered more than a hundred thousand people over shallow, materialistic goals. We were not given two ears and a tongue to swear on the battlefield. We were not given hands, arms, and ammunition to spill blood across the surface of the earth.
We have two ears and a tongue to communicate. To negotiate. To reach settlements. To help us live in peace and harmony.
We're supposed to be the most intelligent species on Earth, and yet we cannot use our intelligence to save lives and solve disputes amicably. Times like these make the following quote of Dr Martin Luther King Jr resonate strongly with me, "Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
I believe that I speak not only for myself, but for a vast number of millennials when I say this: enough bloodshed. Stop now. No more war. Period.
We’ve lost a lot of lives, time, and money fighting meaningless wars. It is now time to rebuild.