It can be very hard to watch this week’s footage showing Egyptian security forces beating and killing civilians. If there’s anything to be learned from these vile and disgusting acts, it’s that the authority to hurt other humans should be considered amongst the most sacred of all privileges.
Egypt’s soldiers – the men who are now guilty of murder – started out as regular people. They took a job in the military, making their living doing what they’re told. On top of this, they face indoctrination leading them to believe they are fighting for a just cause.
Then, when the order comes and free license is given to beat unarmed citizens with metal rods, some of these troops will excel in their roles as thugs. Just like the young men caught enthusiastically jump-stomping their own brothers and sisters.
The problem, however, is not with the soldiers, but rather with the generals. The leaders who gave permission for violence to happen are ultimately responsible, and when justice prevails they will be held fully liable for the carnage they set into motion.
Violence should only be used as a last resort, and only as a deterrent against greater violence. When decision-makers lend the right to hurt others with such ease, atrocities like those we see across the Middle East will continue to happen.
Of course, it’s all fine and dandy to point out what seems obvious: if we want peace we need to severely restrict the use of violence. But how does this knowledge help anyone staring down hundreds of armed goons? Well, it doesn’t.
But it does give the rest of us something to aim for – which is a world where the general population has the means to hold authorities accountable for their actions.
Fortunately, thanks to the ever expanding reach of citizen journalism, combined with a free Internet through which to exchange stories, institutionalized corruption and injustice will continue to be exposed. Leaders who abuse the powers they’ve been entrusted with will brought to bear for the suffering they cause.
Holding the use of violence in the highest esteem something we’ve either forgotten or never learned. But it is a truth we will awaken to as we usher in a new era of peace for our planet.