Impressions

When Monet, Manet and Pissaro changed the way painters use a brush on canvas, they created impressions of the world as they saw it, not as it was. Often, the difference is nil, as what we perceive is what in reality ‘is’. But that reality is known only to us. Others see the same object or idea in a different light. And, as we know, “light” is the cornerstone of impressionism.

This is not about art, though. It is about what we want to be a reality and what it is. And the art is of politics, media and creating of an askew perception. Every country and it’s citizens like to believe that they are the good ones, the just and, if that tenet is shaky – at least that we had good intentions.
We, Canadians are known to be a bit snobbish when it comes to comparing ourselves to our American cousins. Sure, they are bigger, richer and stronger - but so is every brute on a schoolyard! And as typical bully, they are (supposedly) not the brightest or righteous. Take for example our Armed Forces; we are the peacekeepers (after all, it was Canadian Prime Minister who is the father of UN Blue Helmets), they are the cowboys (shoot first, ask later). Well, maybe that was a true statement 20 years ago. When we were listening to the news from the Iraq battlefield, we reacted with horror to the atrocities committed there. Than we went to Afghanistan. And watched with pride as our soldiers were helping the poor locals in Kandhahar.
We actually drew rather smug feeling from the fact, that our boys were assigned just about the most dangerous spot in Afghanistan. Others couldn't - we will. When the Opposition brought some charges in Parliament that we are not sticking to Geneva Convention by transferring captured combatants to Afghan government, there was political skirmishes ( and a threat of legal action against Canadian government by some Canadian citizens) and things were fixed somewhat, but the funny thing was that it never really boder the general population. Than we heard through the media (not on a front page) that Canadian soldiers and officers were informed of and allowed the rape of young boys by Afghan police forces (it is a long standing tradition as this way they are not breaking Muslim rule against sexual contact before marriage- somehow sex with boys is not really sex!) and again - not a protest from Canadians for full investigation and demand to stop this immediately. Recently there was coverage of murder charge in Canadian courts against Canadian Army captain accused of killing a wounded, unarmed Taliban insurgent. A horrible accusation, striking at the heart of rules of combat. These rules were established over a period of hundreds years as to avoid situations when an army goes in and just burns, rapes and kills entire population. It protects not only civilians but also our own soldiers if they are captured by an enemy. What makes me specially curious is the fact, that most of us will say: this is a totally isolated incident, out of our honorable tradition. Have we forgotten the dramatic and tragic incident in Somalia , when our government ( a brave and just decision by Jean Chretien, the last Canadian premier of some stature and sense of a mission) had to disband an entire division (the infamous Airborne Division) for atrocities committed against children in Somalia. Later we learned of homophobic and racist ways of "accepting" new recruits to this unit.
Maybe we should not use 'impressionist" brush-strokes to paint our view or our country, maybe we should stick to the "naturalists" style?
Same could be said in general about the use of army and war as an instrument of foreign policy. Since the armaments of modern soldier changed so much - no one has the right to say that they did not intend or planned "civilian casualty". When you shoot a gun against an advancing enemy soldier - this is an accepted (even if brutal and morally dubious) war conduct, the same if you use mortar or bombs to destroy enemy's fortifications. But when you drop a huge bomb on a densely populated city, when you fire a rocket knowing that near your target is a school or hospital - you can't say that civilian deaths were not intended. They were intended and planned. It would be unintended and bordering on miracle if there was none. This is my reaction to Israeli's re-occupation of Palestine. This is not to say, that Hamas and its insane policy of firing these rude, homemade rockets is right. But terrorist activity be few murderers does not excuse mass killing of civilians. They do suffer enough from Israel's more "peaceful" methods of subjugation anyway. The Germans used to punish entire community for helping a single Jew during the 2 WW. I think that out of all the nations of the world, the Israeli nation should know it best.

About Bogumil P-G

publisher, essayist, poet lived (and born) in Poland, later England, Italy, presently in Canada
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