As Russian President Vladimir Putin pushed his distorted views on the Ukraine Crisis over the course of 2014, this writer, among others including US Security of State John Kerry, recognized the Russian government was acting with the mentality of a Nineteenth Century power.
The brutal, cruel mentalities of terrorist groups like the Islamic State and Boko Haram are equivalent to that of US slave owners in the Antebellum Era and rulers of the Dark Ages.
Under such worldviews, the old adage “might makes right” thoroughly dictates the rules of war and everyday life. In terms of modern day thinking, there are no civil liberties or human rights. The power elite make all the rules and those who fail to follow them are punished with often-irrational violence and cruelty. People are seen as objects to be treated as those who can force their might onto others see fit.
For the modern mind, there are rules of engagement that are supposed to dictate conduct during warfare, yet those rules do not apply in the numerous conflict zones seen around the world today. Society exists to shelter humans from the harshness of nature. The people forced to live under those who share the mentality in question are no longer protected from the uncompromising, cold violence of nature. They live in a perpetual, unforgiving struggle for survival.
During the Twentieth Century, the West came to embrace concepts like human rights and civil liberties. Not only did treaties, such as the Geneva Conventions, dictate what behavior was acceptable during war, world leaders eventually embraced resolutions like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Unfortunately, the actions of the Nazis and Japanese violated those limits on abuse during WWII. Following the Second World War, however, the Japanese culture was radically changed to include Human Rights and eliminate the objectification of people.
The Vietnam conflict reminded Americans that Western views on human rights were not truly universal. Unfortunately, the struggle against globalized terrorism has demonstrated the developed world has been living in a bubble that helped isolate us from the realities of the world. The political world may have a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but the modern view on how people should be treated is far from universal.
Sadly, the Middle East is not the only region that faces powerful groups that have a thorough disregard for human life as South America, Africa, and Asia have struggled to overcome this traditional mentality throughout much of the Twentieth Century. Beyond the various pockets of anarchy that exist in the world, even individuals and subcultures within the US and Europe see brutal violence as a routine response to any given offense, which is evident in cases of mass killings and gang violence.
Consequently, the world needs to face the reality that the struggle for universal human rights is far from over. Those, who enjoy the security and privileges of cultures that shield them from the brutality of nature, must recognize their peace is threatened by those who do not share their modern mentality. Like post-WWII Japan, the International Community must do more to instill our humane way of thinking into other cultures.
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