The sanctity of life

The past century has witnessed such extreme violence, with 160 million people killed in war, that our leaders are incapable of taking a stance based on morality.

70 million people were killed over six years during World War II alone, around 60% of whom were civilians.

900,000 people were killed during Rwanda’s civil war in 1994. 75,000 people were killed in the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea between 1998 and 2000.

The war in Congo has left 3.8 million dead since 1998.

An estimated 40,000 died as a result of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan; 160,000 as a result of the invasion of Iraq.

300,000 killed over six years in Darfur. 38,000 in Pakistan’s war with the Taliban. 130,000 killed in Syria since 2012.

Staggering figures – and still only a small sample of recent and current conflicts worldwide. The bloodshed of the current era is without precedent.

The age of morality has long since passed. Our leaders can only take a stance based on strategic interest today; civilian lives are expendable in an era in which millions have already died.

Discovering that a few of the dead had lives, loves and dreams is simply an inconvenient truth: momentarily our leaders may squirm uncomfortably in the face of human reality, but ultimately the dead are merely statistics amongst hundreds of thousands already deceased.

We, the people, may lament the cold indifference of our leaders and their certain hypocrisy, but our politics have already been stamped with moral bankruptcy: vacuous platitudes about human rights can do nothing to bring millions of innocents back to life.

The hearts of our leaders are already dead. There is no morality here, no right and wrong or good and evil. There is strategic interest, money, power, greed and the domination of finite resources.

How can we explain to our leaders that all life is sacred? That to save one life is as if to save all humanity? Global society needs a reboot.

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