I awoke this morning to a lot of emails, Facebook posts and online stories about the stabbing violence in Israel. Like most of us do now, I did not read these stories first in the newspaper or watch them on TV, but saw them on my phone and iPod. This dichotomy of instant access to world events as they unfold with the subject matter consisting of the gruesome, inhumane murders in Israel was very troubling. It had me thinking back to a concept I had learned while studying in England during my college days.
It is a rather simple concept known as, the “Myth of Progress.” The “Myth” is that despite all of the advancements we have in technology and other material comforts, as human beings we have not made much, if any, improvements in our behavior or ethical development. At that time, I had dismissed it out-of-hand as ridiculous. Life was so much better at the end of the 20th century than it had been at the beginning of the century with automobiles, planes, a/c, vaccines, etc. Wasn’t it, I thought?
However, after decades of living and learning, I realized that not only was the Myth of Progress true then, but it is even more true now! And, when our social, emotional and intellectual development did not keep up with these advances, this “Progress” has actually regressed. We have just made it easier to kill others faster, easier, more effectively with the ability to ignore the suffering of others in more places! This is clearly the case now when hundreds of thousands of people are slaughtered by Assad and ISIS. The world response is so muted in its condemnation and actions to stop more of this that it is effectively silent.
In the United States, when every mass shooting garners our attention for only a day or two with little social media buzz, but the hard slide of Chase Utley or Lamar Odom’s drug induced self-destruction makes front page news, our moral compass is broken. When as many people watch an interview with Caitlin Jenner as watch the Republican presidential debates, our moral compass is broken. When the tragic shooting of a lion in Africa results in calls for death to the dentist who committed this heinous act, while ignoring the kidnapping, rapes and mutilations of women on the same continent, our moral compass is broken.
We have a movement of Black Lives Matter to protest against unintentional, albeit some times improper actions by the police against people killed while accused of committing a crime. However, we have nothing about Israeli Lives Matter for innocent people, including children, killed just for living their lives, in most cases, in the land where they were born! Moreover, our Secretary of State disgracefully blames a land issue for a sickening philosophy that brainwashes a 13 year-old child to kill. When it comes to Israel, our moral compass is not only broken, but it has been smashed possibly beyond repair. Israeli lives matter (to us). But just don’t count on the world or even many in the US to notice or assist. With respect to Israel, there is no working moral compass as the needle is no longer able to point to the (Mid) East!