Today, a series of bombs went off in Iraq, killing and injuring hundreds – the deadliest attack in Iraq so far this year. An event that ought to shock and call for action – if only in our hearts. Yet, it was not the top story in many newspapers. If the same number of people were affected in the same manner in another country or circumstance, it would scream breaking news and demand attention. Indeed, the significance of events are based on the perceived context and succession of prior events. It may explain how destructive trends spiral downwards and desensitize human minds and hearts in the process.
World wars. Genocides. A Cold War era that was on the precipice of turning our world into radioactive dust. In times of relative peace we might reflect on how it was possible for our moral standards to fall so “low”. Were we held hostage by authoritarian leaders? Were we temporarily blinded or paralyzed by the suffering surrounding us? How we perceive reality is determined by the assumptions we hold. Imagine for a moment, a world of chaos and conflict. We would be bound to participate in and be affected by it. The loss of hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people might not move a soul. Peace might be an exception, a news-worthy event. Imagine a world of peace and order. Even an isolated, violent act could stir up global consciousness. We have already seen examples of this in our life time. The key is to be mindful of how situations escalate. Look at the trajectory of the circumstance; is it pointing to more disintegration, conflict and suffering? If so, it is vital for all stakeholders to recognize this in a larger, evolving context. It demands flexibility. It is anticlimactic. It may not result in any grand prize or recognition. It may just serve as a humble reminder: You did the right thing and potentially averted a devastating future.