The Fifth Horseman

Dear youth:

The dark parade of mass murder stretches out as far as recorded history. Currently marching past the world’s viewing stand, is the spectacle of murder by lethal gas. Implicit in the Syrian government’s claim that the images on tape of the torturous death by ricin have been staged, is an admission that the Syrian government knows that it has broken international law. Also, given the capabilities of modern technological detection, the government’s denial of the use of poisonous gas severely strains credibility. Equally incredible is the Syrian claim that the government’s opposition forces had access to ricin and used it as propaganda against Bashar Assad.

The parade has a long-standing tradition of marching-on despite United Nations resolutions to stop, let alone prevent, ‘crimes against humanity’ or ‘genocide.’ Interpretations for those words are fuzzy—not by chance, but by design. Whenever a human crisis develops, national leaders and their diplomatic representatives take time to classify the event, i.e., civil war?…insurrection?…regime change?, and parse words as distinct as ‘genocide’ to avoid any substantive involvement of the nation they represent.

A typical response to genocide abroad is to express outrage, but—apart from minimal humanitarian gestures—delay action until the phenomenon plays itself out. An example of this tactic is the world’s indifference to the savage 1994 ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Tutis by Hutus.

The UN, as its title declares, is an organization of nations. From its inception, it has functioned in much the same way as separate nations do. Acting in a manner equivalent to that of allied nations, it has regional blocs that vote according to their interests. Whether in peace or in war, crimes against humanity have a life of their own despite the efforts of the United Nation Security Council. The organization’s resolutions addressed to human rights are constantly ignored by nations (despite sanctions) and are often countermanded by the targeted nations. For example, a resolution may call for 20,000 troops to quell slaughter, but only 8,000 may be provided—without adequate equipment, as well.

National officials are skilled at stalling when requested to do something about a human crisis if it is not to their nation’s interest to do so. Their counterparts at the United Nations Security Council often require dozens of pleas for humanitarian aid before—if ever—they provide it.

The twentieth century had dozens of genocides, only a few of which are well known. Reputable historians have painstakingly chronicled them, as have many individuals who are survivors of recent genocides. Amid written and oral descriptions, are precise facts as well as subjective perceptions, misinformation, disinformation, and even propaganda. But the body of our collective knowledge unmistakably informs us that genocide is the fifth horseman—a hybrid that contains all four characteristics of the traditional apocalyptic killers.

The statistics for many genocidal ‘cleansings’ are inconceivable. So are the dates and locations: How was it possible for a nation as advanced as modern Germany in the middle of the twentieth century to engage in genocidal determination! That shameful horror was committed in secret. Remarkably, most recent genocides have been openly committed.

Also inconceivable are the sub-human practices associated with genocides, a number of which are infamous on film. Not as widely known are well-documented records of the Rwanda genocide (1994). For example, 1500 Tutis were told that they would be spared death by machetes if they sought refuge in a Roman Catholic church. The ensuing effort to butcher that many people to death was so great that the Hutu killers took shifts for two days to get the job done. Apparently, although not as neat as their Nazi counterparts, the Hutus rivaled them in efficiency. They brutally murdered about 800,000 Tutis in less than six months. Their methods were so grisly that I choose not to describe them here. Suffice it to say that the Rwanda atrocities include routine practices that actually excel several of those perpetrated in the Nazi Holocaust.

Once again, the fifth horseman rides at the head of the parade in Syria, alongside his closest companion, the fog of war. The fog is thickest in the absence of reason. I urge you to counter mindless global confusion with reason, not political vitriol. At the national level, the United States and its ally, Israel, are locked in diametric opposition to Iran. The global proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, atomic and biological, has the potential to dwarf the battle for democracy of the twentieth century.

Muslim extremists have openly declared their genocidal directive. Its base is theocratic and it targets Jews and Americans. If their aspiration for genocide were to become a reality, it would be the granddaddy of all genocides given that the United States is the ultimate embodiment of multi-ethnicity.

Reason and words are at the center of human communication. Reasonable disagreements, free of censorship, and respectfully expressed, are sharply distinct from political vitriol. Yet, a great number of Americans, influenced by fierce partisanship, equate ‘Freedom Fighters’ and terrorists. Many of our leaders and other celebrities diligently avoid the word, ‘terrorist.’ They define a terrorist attack as a ‘man-made disaster,’ thereby avoiding an accurate description of reality. Euphemisms enable justification for a holy war, an event that by definition includes genocide.

Our mass vitriolic political bickering obfuscates the real and present danger of a global conflict that would dwarf that of the twentieth century. It’s critical that we keep our focus on the driving force behind the Middle East crises, a force that includes genocide.

Americans and Israelis engage in circular arguments while Muslim extremists, especially their leaders, openly call for genocide.

There is nothing you can do against the tides of war, but for your well-being, dear youth, I encourage you to do what the overwhelming majority has been unwilling or unable to do through all of humanity’s tenure on earth.

Balance reason and emotion, the latter emanating from the former. Embrace and radiate compassion. Build a foundation of character that is at once constant in fundamentals and flexible in development.

To do that, live life as an art. You’ll find that the process grows easier and easier with practice and constantly renews itself.

Be well,


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