Collateral Damage = Human Cruelty

Medscape reports that a victim of the Brussels (Belgium) airport bombing in 2016 has died.

This individual wasn’t physically injured by the bombing, but was in physical proximity to the explosions and was emotionally traumatized by them. We might call this a very severe form of PTSD.

After several years of psychiatric care, including inpatient care, the patient petitioned a medical review board for permission to end life. The petition was granted and the patient was euthanized earlier this year.

The report notes that only 2% of euthanasia requests are for mental conditions. The requirements for for acute pain and suffering with no hope of relief. The patient’s petition was granted based on the belief that the patients met the requirements.

What’s perhaps striking about this case, is that the victim was female, age 23 at the time of death.

Did the people who placed the bombs really think about what they were doing?

The question for anyone who advocates violence as a tool for political coercion or social change is: do you think about the collateral damage? The legacy of violence is more violence. Both the advocates of violence and innocents perish.

  • Think of the French Revolution of 1789. Robespierre, one of the leaders of the revolution, was executed along with his royal opponents. Ultimately, the revolution gave rise to the dictatorship of Napoleon and warfare involving virtually the entirety of Europe, devastation of economies and creation of economic refugees and forms of human trafficking such as the “Italian Boys” of London.
  • The American Civil War, which devastated much of the US and the effects of which are still evident.
  • The murder of the Crown Prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, resulting in millions of dead on the battlefield and off, and setting the stage for World War II and the conflicts in the Middle East.
  • The NAZI takeover of Germany, which led to the “Night of Long Knives” in which some of Hitler’s own followers were put to death for assumed disloyalty, then “Krystallnacht” and the persecution of Jews, then the murder of Catholic and protestant leaders who spoke out against Nazi policy and finally the murder of generals who saw the disaster Germany was facing — with collateral damage among civilians in the tens of millions.

Whether it’s an airport bombing or an attack on the husband of a US Senator, what’s the point? Neither act accomplishes anything,and it’s logically impossible to believe that it every could.

Human memory is short. We forget the savagery of war, much as we forget the experience of past epidemics. We oversimplify complex problems, and blame individuals instead of accepting shared responsibility. Some romanticize war as an “easy fix” for social problems, which it never is. And we have fools calling for violence without ever realizing what the true cost could be.



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