The murder of innocents can lead one to be caught in a double bind. Killing is bad. This is one of the most basic principles of almost any religion, and typically the starting point of morality itself. Killing innocent people is less permissible than killing guilty people, and killing innocent women and children is the worst kind of killing. Whatever our personal opinion of this value judgment, it seems to be a generally agreed upon principle. However, I have learned this month, it is not an immutable one, context matters. If I speak of the murder of innocent women and children in Palestine many people would call me anti-Semitic. It’s phenomenal how history and emotion can operate to disfigure a universally accepted principle. In no other area of human endevour can the truth be manipulated in such a way. When representing physical form for example, a standard drawing of an object will remain that object, it doesn’t matter what other details accompany it, no color scheme will change the truth of what that drawing represents. Even context does not change the object itself, a drawing of a chair, for example, will always be a chair, whether it is at a table, standing alone, or turned upside down, the truth of what the rendition of that object represents will not change. Lately, it seems, that the sanctity of life of innocent children is not as clear of a principle.
I’m unsure why this particular injustice seems to grab my attention today. More innocent children have died at the hands of unscrupulous settlers on the stolen land I inhabit here in Canada. Children die unnecessarily every day in Los Angeles, where I grew up. We are surrounded by injustice, and drowning in contradictions. It is often said that everything is relative. I don’t think it is. My worst day will never be as bad as the worst day of my counterpart in Palestine. That’s not to say I don’t have bad days or my Palestinian counterpart good days. Or that those days should not be acknowledged for what they are. For me to even write about this is presumptuous and probably myopic.
For now I’ll be thinking about the definition of double bind:
A double bind is an emotionally distressing dilemma in communication in which an individual (or group) receives two or more conflicting messages, and one message negates the other. This creates a situation in which a successful response to one message results in a failed response to the other (and vice versa), so that the person will automatically be wrong regardless of response. The double bind occurs when the person cannot confront the inherent dilemma, and therefore can neither resolve it nor opt out of the situation.