On December 3rd, the Military Times reported that the “International Security Assistance Force” in Kabul announced that it may have “accidentally killed three innocent Afghan civilians,” for the sake of international security, of course. The three “individuals” hit were 12, 10 and 8 years old. They had been digging on a dirt road. Kill’em!
According to their family, they had been gathering dung, which their community uses as fuel. The military saw them from up high, said no-shit and splattered them. It is to be recommended that all children be prohibited from digging, even in sandboxes or at the beach (in case we want to try another heroic landing), since our robotic droning on and on about security might mistake them as a threat. Zero Tolerance, God damn it! And, we have to ask, who these days is really innocent?
George Orwell, in his famous article on Gandhi, opened with the lovely phrase “all saints should be assumed guilty until proven innocent.” His reasoning was that the agenda of saints is usually not of this world. One could easily apply this argument to children, as well. They really are not yet with the program and therefore can so easily be persuaded to become stooges for all kinds of adult agendas. Good reason to kill them in Afghanistan, Gaza, Israel, Brazil or in the poor neighborhoods of the Secure Homeland.
All this is, of course, as it should be, we collateralizing adults know only too well. However, one odd question keeps popping up, still without any reasonable answer. Wars and poverty are usually imposed on the children in the name of God Almighty. All around the globe the children learn with their religious catechisms and memorize with their holy scriptures that their Lord God is all powerful, omnipresent, etc., etc. What puzzles them is why then the little body of their best friend can be torn apart, even if by collateral accidentals, in the name of this God, and he does not save them from this horrible fate. Even if, after dying of starvation or by bloody explosion, this little body is going to go straight to pure heaven, why, by the Name of the Almighty, could the child not have gone to heaven without such vicious experience?
In ethics and law, it is usually maintained that a bystander is not innocent if he or she could reasonably have been expected to save a victim from grievous harm. To see a man being pushed in front of a subway and not do anything to help raises at least some ethical eyebrows, as does not saving a toddler from drowning in shallow waters or shallow arguments, when one could simply reach down and save the child, without getting one’s loafers wet.
It appears, by all accounts, that God could save all of these children not only from being torn apart by the latest munitions but also from dying from the latest fluctuations in economic calculations or the latest versions of slowly wasting away with cancer, and all that without soiling His magnificent hands, just as the modern soldier can kill the children without getting anywhere near the spattering blood.
It is not a new insight that this God, who ever he or she may be imagined to be by the warring parties, is thus the ultimate not-innocent bystander. Since we are to follow in the footsteps of our gods, it therefore is also clear that we remain innocent like God if we do not help the innocent.
What remains amazing is that so many people keep praying to such gods who are so innocent that they do not even reach out to help a drowning child or the child molested and tortured by their Priest, Rabi, Imam, or Medicine Man. A colleague of mine had seen her two young children torn into bits and pieces of flesh, right in front of her, by a perfect bomb from heaven above. Her priest is still trying to bring her back into his flock, like a lost sheep. There is at least some logic in that.
But where is the logic of the adults around the dung-digging children who die, with terror in their eyes, for the glory of the god of their parents and liberators? Such gods, and not just their saints, should indeed be assumed guilty until proven innocent, if that were ever possible. And if we can’t come up with less guilty gods, should we not at least indite all adults who claim innocence in the name of such gods, as they kill children trained to gather shit, to keep them warm?