That was then ...


Bob Stannard

I remember a time when I was young. I think the year was 2014 or ‘15. I think that’s when things went awry. I’m not sure what started it all, other than the obvious fact that the religions of the world were never able to come to terms.

Sure, there had always been more than enough violence to go around. When I was around 10 or so it seemed as though every night on the news there were stories of one school shooting after another. Even then I had a hard time understanding why walking into a school and shooting innocent children made any sense. Was the shooter trying to make a statement? Who knows, but it didn’t seem fair to me. Then again I was in school.

Looking back it seems like 2014 was the tipping point. Religious intolerance had been brewing for some time, but that was the year when Palestine hurled one too many rockets into Israel’s back yard. Back then I recall my parents saying that Israel doesn’t react; they overreact. Maybe they felt they had to defend themselves against yet another attack, or maybe they just wanted to punish those responsible. I’m not really sure, but I think it started with the killing of three young Jewish boys. Then some Jews burned a Palestinian boy alive. That was the match that set the world’s barn on fire.

It was also a time when Buddhists in Myanmar (a place once known as Burma) started attacking Muslims who had lived in that country for generations. It’s hard to say why these people went on a rampage. I think it might have been because one Buddhist spiritual leader was preaching hate against Chinese Muslims. I don’t really know because I was just a kid back then, but it does seem as though that hate was behind just about everything.

Yep, 2014; the year the hatred really let loose. The world has always been plagued by those who hate and the world of today, July 13, 2064, hatred is still here and here to stay. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon your outlook, there are a lot fewer people around now than there were back then. The conflict between the Jews and Palestinians, between the Muslims and just about every other religion, and those who were just plain nuts, all came to a head.

Israel bombed the daylights out of what was then called Gaza, which was a place in Israel where Palestinians lived. It got ugly quickly. There was an African American who was president of our country. I think he was the first black man ever to be president. I guess there wasn’t much he could do, because there was so much fighting in Congress that it was impossible for us to come together to get anything done. I don’t know if it was for partisan reasons or if some just couldn’t come to grips with a black guy being president. Those folks would be hard pressed to get along with the lesbian woman who occupies the White House today, I guess. That stuff is all rather passé now, but I suppose then it was a big deal.

The rest of the world saw how those running our country couldn’t seem to get along and decided that if it was okay for the people running the United States to fight and fight then it must be okay for them to do the same. The primary difference was the politicians were fighting with words and the Mid-East was fighting with live ammo.

It never made any sense to me when I was a small boy why the people couldn’t do more to keep guns out of the hands of people who would kill school children. I’m sure it was an intensive lobbying effort on behalf of the gun advocates, but still, I would have thought that the killing of kids would have made a difference. They just accepted shootings as the norm.

Today, 50 years later we’re still not quite done killing each other. Yeah, the big war (some called it WWIII, but others called it the War for Religious Freedom; whatever that was supposed to mean) is still going strong. Muslims are being wiped out by the thousands. Apparently the rest of the world decided that even though there were once more Muslims than any other religion that this religion posed the greatest threat. Our response to threats has always been the same, which is to eliminate the threat at all costs.

The costs have been great. The world, always a dangerous place, has never been more dangerous. People can’t travel. Hell, most people fear leaving their home for food. There are riots in the streets of every major country in the world. Pandemonium is the word that comes to mind. People are killing people each and every day. Some kill over religious beliefs. Some just like to kill.

Now that I’m an old man I just stay in my cabin up on this hill. As I watch the fighting I hope that they don’t find me up here.

Bob Stannard is a Banner columnist.


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