Normally you would find a satirical article here. In this case, it would attempt to skewer the fetishization of war so banally common in the world today – and which this week tragically cut short the lives of 176 innocent people – by juxtaposing it against a more hopeful way out of the cycle of violence. That of peace.
There would be fictional quotes from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and thinly veiled disgust for the chest-beating of U.S. President Donald Trump, and Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei. The article might conclude with a bitter statement from an average person, asking what war has done for them lately; or a final word from Trudeau, underscoring that while Canada is angered, and deeply hurt, it will not perpetuate the endless cycle of violence.
But we aren’t going to do that. Because the people who were on that plane – those who expected to simply go home, like you and I did last night, while they never will – deserve a great deal more than that.
Unable to be brought back, they deserve to be remembered. And, when that is done, for us to stop supporting the escalating, and self-perpetuating, cycle of global militarization.
From top left: Delaram Dadashnejad/ Pedram Mousavi and Mojgan Daneshmand, and daughters Daria, and Dorina/ Arash Pourzarabi and Pouneh Gorji/ Bahareh Hajesfandiari, Mahdi Sadeghi and Anisa Sadeghi/ Iman Aghabali and Mehdi Eshaghian/ Mahdieh Ghassemi, and her two children Arsan Niazi, and Arnica Niazi/ Iman and Parinaz Ghaderpanah/ Suzan Golbabapour/ Samira Basher and Hamid Setareh Kokab/ Siavash Ghafouri Azar and Sara Mamani/ Sahan Hatefi Mostaghim and Shahab Raana/Masoumeh Ghavi. All photos from this CBC article.
These are just a few of the people killed. They are, of course, just like any of us. Not soldiers, not agents of war, just people who were going about their lives, only to have them stopped by a missile. One which was at the ready because just a few days earlier a different missile had descended in a nearby country, to kill a man who had himself authorized many, many killings. War conducted cavalierly, and at a radio signal’s removal for the men who authorize it – those who would rather hurl missiles than undertake the difficult work of solving complex geopolitical problems.
What a terrible thing, for those whose loved ones died this way: to lose your people because peace was too hard.
Many have blamed this tragedy on Donald Trump, and there’s no argument that without his actions it is very unlikely that this flight would have been shot down. But the pattern of senseless violence is too etched in our history to ignore the fact that fundamentally, this is us. And until we stop it, this pattern will simply continue on.
That is why everyone who is horrified by this event, which surely must be the vast majority of people, should ask themselves what they’re doing to stop it. As surely as we know that we must change our ways globally to avoid life altering climate change, so must we embark on worldwide demilitarization to avoid life destroying violence and war.
If we are successful in this, future generations may yet look back on our sprawling military and security complex in the same way we here in the 21st century view the squalor and superstition of the Dark Ages. A relic from a time that we have now almost entirely progressed out of; learning as we did to live cleaner, healthier lives, and ones embued with reasoning and higher logic.
How far in the future that dreamt of time is, is up to us. We have to take steps towards it, ones that will be difficult, and at times challenging. But if we don’t, the anguish we feel today over this senseless loss of life will repeat. Again and again.
Breaking that cycle isn’t something that will just happen. War is what happens when we give up. We have to choose peace.
Updated to include the below link to an article from the Toronto Star, which contains information on 100 of the 176 victims, and a link to a memorial page set up in their honour: