Keeping Our Perspective on War

When one takes a bird’s-eye view of bat­tle and civil­ian casu­al­ties by the num­bers, the results as shown above are shocking.

All of this helps one main­tain a healthy sense of per­spec­tive, and reveals that not only do present-day news chan­nels and dis­trib­u­tors exag­ger­ate the fre­quen­cy and feroc­i­ty of con­flicts on a reg­u­lar basis by flood­ing the pub­lic space with over-report­ing and embell­ish­ments, but we almost invari­ably are fed infor­ma­tion to arrive at a mind­set that makes us for­get on a dai­ly basis the major pow­ers have not fought one anoth­er since World War 2, and today’s war deaths (mil­i­tary and civil­ian) are minus­cule in comparison.

Also, while this pre­sen­ta­tion should in no way dimin­ish the very per­son­al human fac­tor of armed con­flicts in the present day (and those sol­diers and civil­ians who’ve paid with their lives or injury/disability), it’s nec­es­sary to check the lev­el of fear-mon­ger­ing and embell­ish­ment that’s going on in con­flict cov­er­age by our news net­works, espe­cial­ly when we talk about niche threats like the recent news about ISIS. The threat may exist, but it’s only a dan­ger with­in its prop­er con­text, focus, and sphere of influ­ence, which are all extreme­ly small and dis­tant. Fur­ther­more, the group is known for exag­ger­at­ing its pow­er by tak­ing cred­it for the attacks of unaf­fil­i­at­ed per­sons and ‘lone wolf’ cra­zies (thanks, CBC and oth­ers for notic­ing and final­ly call­ing atten­tion to this).

This is why, on the mat­ter of pro­por­tion­al­i­ty, it’s impor­tant to keep it real. Near­ly all the media pro­pa­gan­da we take in today (espe­cial­ly our own, and I’m look­ing at you, North Amer­i­ca) has had a sig­nif­i­cant effect on our lives, altered our cul­tur­al per­cep­tions and cre­at­ed divi­sions toward those with whom we’re not imme­di­ate­ly famil­iar, and cre­at­ed an alarm­ing loss of civ­il lib­er­ties in the name of fear — and all of this flies far beyond the dreams of the evil reli­gious fight­ers these net­works are cov­er­ing. We’ve become so scared, we’ve lost our bear­ings, and we’ve almost entire­ly for­got­ten any prop­er sense of perspective.

Try to remem­ber that the next time some­one you know goes off on a run­away rant with lines like, “The Mus­lims are com­ing!” or “I dun­no about those refugees…” or “ISIS is com­ing for our neigh­bour­hoods!” These are lines slung by slick busi­ness peo­ple in order to sell papers — they do not reflect our actu­al, cur­rent reality.

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