Friday, January 9, 2009

Peace, please

A frontpage photo a few days ago on a local leading newspaper sums up the foolishness of war--the bodies of three little kids lined up side-by-side on the street, after being hit by a bomb in the ongoing Gaza Strip carnage. An adult man wept near the bodies, one of which was that of his child, according to the photo's caption.

Days after, more news filtering out of Gaza tell of more deaths among civilians of all ages, male and female. Rescuers are said to be allowed, if at all, inside Gaza only by foot, ambulances kept away at a distance. Video footages on TV show overcrowded hospitals and treatments centers with medical supplies almost running out, with the wounded arriving in scores at any moment.

Must it come to this? Such bloodiness, terrorism, hatred, murder seems so unlikely in this day and age of globalization, where we are surrounded by the glitz and polish of information technology (IT) that supposedly makes the inhabitants of this world a little bit closer to one another. All those social networking sites that litter the Internet pave the way for faster and easier communication and relationships-building, crossing countries and continents in a second. Or does this boil down to the division of the have and have-nots? Where the haves with their dizzying and seemingly endless access to the benefits of new IT modalities, especially the Internet, as the showcase of IT, seemingly becoming somehow unconcerned or blinded to the needs of the have-nots, and being satisfied with the situation of their own lives, never mind the others. In fairness, in some cases, this is not of the Internet-savvy people's own undoing and not all Internet-savvy people have become like that. But the have-nots, for which accessing the Web is the least of their concerns or, perhaps, on the other side of the coin, one of services that is denied them, still have as their day-to-day main priorities food on the table, shelter over their heads, and clothes on their bodies. And this radical division between the haves and the have-nots, persisting through the ages and now even includes the digital divide, continues to spawn misunderstanding, violence, invasion, and war. An equally radical spin may be needed. The way I see it, we are only still scratching the surface of the uses of the Internet. I believe that the Internet, fully utilized and its use more liberalized (to include more the have-nots, including those to whom their countries have restricted access to the Internet) can provide a very effective means for in-depth peace-building, and greater understanding and cooperation among different nations and races. This is going beyond social networking, which the Internet seems to be serving more at this time for many people. I do know of efforts by some sectors, especially development organizations, in tapping IT and the Internet to help people improve their economic lives, especially in the community or grassroots level. This is a good start. People's economic improvement, especially when they directly and in suitable timeframe enjoy the fruits of their own labor, is a step toward attaining a good quality of life, and peace.

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