Friday, February 3, 2012

Blame Yourself: The Egyptian Soccer Riot

You might have heard that seventy-four people died in a brawl between rival soccer fans in Egypt.

People are sickening, sometimes, maybe not so much for their tendency to do violence for just about any conceivable reason, but for their immediate reactions of external blame. A man who was at the game says, in a Yahoo interview:
“Those in charge are responsible for this... And the military hasn’t provided a safe and secure environment. This is a national tragedy and those in charge bear the blame.”
Astounding. So it is not the fault of the losers who have so little control over their emotions that a mere sporting event can turn them into a mindless, homicidal mob. It is the government's fault. (The guy does accuse police of not having acted to stop the riot. That complaint, I get: they should have helped stop things before -- and even after -- got out of control. That's what police are for.)

Yeah, yeah. I know. Mubarak is gone after thirty years and everything is in a tizzy. But I'm talking about individual human responsibility. To me, that doesn't change. We each have a responsibility to be better than that. In fact, if one can't be better than these animals, one has serious problems.

Milgrim showed us that the individual tends to abandon his moral convictions under social pressure. A piece I once wrote pointed out a young generation's tendency to be forgiving about this tendency. But I'm going to remain pretty stentorian about this: You choose whether or not to riot. You choose whether or not to be racist. You choose whether or not to be party to genocide. I'm not saying it is easy to go against social tides. I'm saying it is sometimes necessary and that our worth as human beings is sometimes measured by how well we swim against those tides -- or drown trying.

Everyone needs to stop blaming the absurd governmental and societal structures we have built, higher and higher, to the point of dangerous teetering, upon the brittle ruins of those of generations before us.

Do I want government to provide police and a military for my safety? Yes. But I'll be damned if I am ever going to become such a sniveling, needy, wimpy, irresponsible, sheepish "brick in the wall" that I'd blame "those in charge" when I or my friends lose control like six-foot tantrum-throwing toddlers and kill people because a referee made a bad call.

We're doomed if we continue in this direction my friends. Doomed.

Turn off the TV; put down the papers; turn off the computer (wait -- not yet) and start cleaning the house. Make sure everything is in place at home before you step out. There are a lot of sloppy living rooms in this world while legions wander around picking up trash at the town square -- or pointing at others to pick it up.

Now you can turn it off.

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