Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Not-So-Innocent Bystanders

From Society Under Seige by Zygmunt Bauman:
Five per cent of the planet's population may emit 40 per cent of the planet's pollutants, and use/waste half or more of the planet's resources, and they may resort to military and financial blackmail to defend tooth and nail their right to go on doing so. They may, for the foreseeable future, use their superior force to make the victims pay the costs of their victimization (were not the Jews under the Nazis obliged to pay the train fares on the way to Auschwitz?). And yet responsibility is theirs -- not just in any abstractly philosophical, metaphysical or ethical sense, but in the down-to-earth, mundane, straightforward, casual (ontological, if you wish) meaning of the word.


We are all bystanders now: knowing what needs to be done, but also knowing that we have done less than what was needed and not necessarily what needed doing most; and that we are not especially eager to do more or better, and even less keen to abstain from doing what should not be done at all . . . There are more and more goings-on in the world which we sense are crying for vengeance or remedy, but our capacity to act, and particularly the aptitude to act effectively, seems to go in reverse, dwarfed ever more by the enormity of the task. The number of events and situations that we hear of and that cast us in the awkward and reprehensible position of a bystander grows by the day.


michael the tubthumper said...

dont be so harsh on yourself. not all of us are bystanders and i suspect you do rather a lot to help

Flimsy Sanity said...

When you think of the amount of garbage one generates in their lifetime even if you are not much of a consumer, you do have to feel some responsibility. I agree with you.