The Vigilant Robot

a watchful eye of creative complexity

Tag Archives: peace

Expand Empathy; Erase Exceptionalism

Attacks in Paris happened today—terrible, hateful attacks that took many lives. It is very sad and unfortunate. I am crying. I am crying and I find it hard to stop. But it is not for Paris. I am crying for the silence—for the silence that fills the air and the internet day after day; the silence that proves to me whose lives are valued and whose lives might as well be dirt on the floor we sweep away into a garbage bin never to be seen again.

I’m so tired. Every day, the life of my people (broad usage here: all brown people, all Muslim people, etc.) does not matter. No one cares. Every day, they face violence, hatred. Every day. Some days they are able to escape, but those days seem few. Do you know what it is like to see family after family from non-Western countries die in terrorist attacks, whether it’s from groups like ISIS or countries like the U.S.A., and hear silence; then later, you witness an outpouring of sadness and an abundance of opinions and outrage when an attack hits a Western city, a city that you were told was worth seeing, that had some value?

Why do you believe that people living in your favorite tourist destination are more important than those living in the city you know nothing about? What makes you think that the other city isn’t worth seeing, that the culture is not important, or the people have no value? What exactly makes you think that it is okay if people die in other countries because you have nothing to do with it? Why do you not care about the people your own country murders? Why do you not care about the global terrorism committed by your own country?

Perhaps you think that violence in the middle east and elsewhere has been going on for so long that it doesn’t matter any more. Perhaps you think that there is nothing you can do about violence “over there” and amongst “those people.” Do you not think violence has roots? Do you think the average brown person wakes up and says, “Hey, I think today is a great day to kill some people”? You are mind-boggling. If you are American, you can do something to stop violence. The U.S. is the biggest perpetrator of violence; and this violence breeds violence from others. You can do something; you just have to care first.

violence needs no translation

violence needs no translation

When violent attacks in a western place occur, I log on to social media and see two things: 1. a barrage of prayers and solidarity hashtags and 2. racism, hatred, and threats of violence. When violent attacks in a non-western place occur, I log on to social media and see two things: 1. some of my friends expressing sadness and outrage and 2. silence from most.

Dear social media friends, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whathaveyou:

My life does not matter to you. If my life does matter to you, does it matter to you because you know me? If I lived in another country, on the other side of the world, my life would not matter to you. I believe my life would not matter to you. I would be dead in a terrorist attack and you would be okay with that. If somehow I left my home from that side of the world to find a safer, and more promising place in the West, you would still not care about me. I would be dead in a terrorist attack, and oh look, suddenly I matter to you. Oh wait, I probably live in a refugee camp because I cannot afford a place to live, so you would still not care about me. In fact, you would harm me. You would blame me for the violence I, myself, fled. You would blame me and then you would burn me. You would burn me. And you would burn me every single day after that. You would also burn my family, my friends, and anyone who looks like me. And then you would go back to not caring about me, my family, my friends, or anyone who looks like me. Or believes like me.

That hurts.

It hurts to know that a majority of people don’t give a crap about your life because you’re not the type of person people want to care about. They don’t even know you, so why should they?

When we cannot find empathy—when we refuse to listen, see, or understand anything outside of our own lives, there will never be justice and there will never be peace. Ever.

Expand your empathy and erase your exceptionalism.

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“Surrealism and War” on Veteran’s Day

The National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago had an exhibition opening a few weeks ago on Veteran’s Day entitled “Surrealism and War,” which features the artwork of nine veterans depicting their experiences of war in somewhat surrealist ways. The exhibition really portrayed the horrors of war for both the innocent people caught in between and those who were drafted or even enlisted to fight. War is senseless, barbaric. War is sad and the poor suffer the most. The U.S. military creates a host of atrocities across the world, and then when the troops come back to their country they are met with no assistance, only the dark thoughts of their experiences, taunting them with bad memories and thoughts of death and suicide. Why?

You can read more about the exhibition here, but I will leave you with some (crappy phone camera) images of artwork that I found most intriguing and moving.

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I got a bit teary staring at this wall. This is the artwork of veteran Jim Leedy.

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Jim Leedy talking about his artwork behind him. He fought in the Korean War and when he returned he had nightmares every day. It was only until he created this large, ominous wall that his nightmares ended. It was his therapy. It begins on the left with images of a few animal bones here and there to depict that killing was done for survival, then moves on to show the horrors and destruction of the manmade invention of war, and then ends with something hopeful, wings, birds taking flight to show that maybe one day war won’t be so rampant, maybe there will be some semblance of peace.

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a section of an Exquisite Corpse

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Exquisite Corpses, each one depicting or symbolizing a specific veteran whether dead or alive

 

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Art’s Capabilities: Thoughts?

Can art actually create change or can art only inspire change?

What do you think and why?

365 Images of Social Justice: Week 3

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January 15 (1929), The birth of civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr.

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January 16 (1969), Czech student, Jan Palach, sets himself on fire in protest of the Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia

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January 17 (1987), Thousands protest against the first test launch of the Trident II Missile at Cape Canaveral, Florida

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January 18 (2011), Websites blacked out against SOPA, Stop Online Piracy Act, (and PIPA) in what became the largest internet protest in history for internet freedom

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January 19 (1991), Thousands protest in Washington D.C. against the bombing of Iraq during the Gulf War

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January 20 (1990), Known as Black January/Saturday, protests calling for independence of Azerbaijan from the Soviet Union erupted in Baku and Soviet troops attacked and fired on the protesters killing over 100.

Jan21
January 21 (2005), Angry at the ruling government party for the declining economy, huge protests broke out in Belmopan, Belize after the government released a budget with significant tax increases; national strikes followed.