Feb 112008
Authors: Mary Ackerson

The events of the Iowa caucus really puts the recent violence in Kenya in perspecive.

Initially, the thought of neighbors who grew up together brutally killing one another over an election was inconceivable to me. I speculated that the Kenyan people involved in the violence must place less of a value on human worth.

That was before I discovered that their feelings of animosity stem from the same root as mine on caucus day.

The night of Feb. 5 I attended my first caucus. The cafeteria at Lesher Junior High that I walked into was packed full of people, already self-segregated according to the presidential candidate they supported. There were tables littered with Clinton posters, and then those decorated with Obama posters.

I was surprised at the adverse feelings that immediately rose within me when regarding the opposing candidate’s supporters.

I quickly sought out an Obama table, and was relieved to find that they were passing out stickers, so that I would not have to be sans-identity. My support and commitment to my candidate is so strong that I did not want to be mistaken as a ‘Hillariate’ or an undecided. I felt a sense of pride and superiority sporting my Obama sticker.

Before making eye contact with anyone, I made sure to look at their sticker to know whether they were friend or foe. Acting friendly toward my opponents felt like I was being disloyal to my beliefs.

Once I became conscious of my attitude of rivalry, I realized how ridiculous it was to feel antagonistic toward people in the room simply because they supported a different candidate. Even so, I realized that this atmosphere is essentially inevitable when each side’s beliefs are so strong and significant to them.

So, for that period of time, I permitted my prejudgments and senseless antagonism toward my fellow human-beings.

This is how I came to a better understanding of the foreign conflict.

If I was willing to set aside one of my core values of viewing everyone equally for the sake of full-fledged dedication to a party candidate, how much more justifiable is relinquishing this value in an environment where one’s life, one’s liberty and justice are at stake?

This is the present state of affairs in Kenya.

Granted, at the caucus I wasn’t hurting anyone by allowing my strong beliefs to take precedence. Under different circumstances, though, these are the same dangerous sentiments and thoughts that, when magnified, can lead to the rationalization of violence.

When injustice is factored into the equation, giving in to such antagonistic sentiments feels completely normal. Thus, injustice leads to the disregard of the value of humanity in a retaliatory, and often violent, pursuit of justice.

In Kenya, this injustice came in the form of an allegedly rigged election.

So what is the remedy once injustice has occurred and the line of violence has been crossed?

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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