Innocence of Youth

By Lawrence Bailey

As the bloodied, battered, mangled bodies are pulled, piece by piece from the rubble, a sickening anger emerges. Every night that a husband, a wife or a child doesn’t return home the cries for retribution ring louder. There are thousands who died. Innocents. The knee-jerk reaction is retribution. An eye for an eye. We must exact our pound of flesh. Let’s assume for a moment that war will be waged. Be it Afghanistan, Iraq or Osama bin Laden and his followers, many will die in the process of hunting, attacking and exacting vengeance. Innocents. Punished because of the acts of their government or their neighbours.

How are these acts of destruction justified? How is this license to kill rationalized? Apparently it is guilt by association. “Those who are not with us are against us,” said Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democratic Senator of New York. This sentiment was heard across the United States echoed those of revolutionaries like bin Laden. What must be acknowledged is that whether the thousands of dead are in the streets of New York, Kabul or Baghdad makes no difference at all, they are human. They are mothers, they are daughters and they will be grieved.

There are those who say war is a natural state of man, it has always existed and it always will. These were the same arguments made about slavery yet it has nearly vanished. We may have evolved from apes but that does not excuse us from the reason we’ve developed. Rather, it binds us to evolution, propelling us forward. Simply because violence, conflict and retaliation span history does not mean they must define the future. A tradition of bloodshed is not an excuse for murder–it does not exempt us.

Sadly, the most reasonable men are not in power. By all indications more blood will spill, more families will shatter, more hatred will take root.

In light of it all we, as the world’s youth, must remain optimistic. We must remain reasoned and we must strengthen our resolve to work towards a more peaceful future.

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