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Old October 16 2009, 09:42 PM   #40
PSGarak
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Re: In Defense of the Occupation

You Brits (Loki Dukat and Deranged Nasat) make this Yank proud to know you. Lord knows the US has its own moments in history that are far from shining examples. I'll assume all of us have been to history classes enough to know which ones I'm talking about. What's important is learning from the mistakes so that we don't make them again. Enough episodes of genocide have happened in my lifetime for me to see that all it really takes is one force with overwhelming might, one group with desired resources, and a tremendous amount of apathy and turning a blind eye from the rest of the world for these things to happen.

Oddly enough, some of the most moving words I've seen dealing with this issue come from Andrew J. Robinson's book "A Stitch in Time" writing from the perspective of Elim Garak. It's a long passage, but I think it strikes right to the heart of the matter:

"Fear and isolation, Doctor. You can't have one without the other. Fear isolates and isolation is fear's natural home. Just as my orchids need carefully prepared soil to protect them against disease and pests, fear needs the isolated circumstances to deepen and grow without connective or relational interference. When fear is allowed to flourish in its dark and lonely medium, then any evil that can be conceived by the fearful imagination will emerge.

The death toll rises every day. We are now over the one billion mark. This is a numbing, dry statistic. I'm certain that when you read this, Doctor, you will have a disturbed reaction. Others will rationalize that the figure is commensurate with Cardassian complicity. And a third group will simply shrug: it's not their problem. My reaction would probably have been a combination of the latter two. Like most people, I want to get on with the business of my life and what's done is done and doesn't warrant any further loss of sleep or appetite.

Our med unit has been converted into a burial unit. It's a logical progression; the survivors have all been accounted for and only the dead remain unclaimed. More immediate, of course, is the potential for decaying corpses to spread disease. So every day now I am engaged in the hardest work of my life; I find that nothing has prepared me for this. My feelings are spent, my moral rationalizations are empty, and I can't say it's not my problem when I'm pulling and lifting and throwing bodies of people who once only wanted to go about the business of their lives.

A Federation official suggested that we simply vaporize all the corpses. Underneath the suggestion was the judgment that our burial customs are archaic and morbid. At first I became angry and wanted to berate him for his lack of sensitivity as well as for his own culture's morbidity in representing death as sanitary and disassociated from life. But I realized that we were no better. We created technologies that dispensed death efficiently and from a distance; we never took responsibility for our personal actions because we were in the service of a greater good--the Cardassian state. Colonel Kira once told me how many Bajorans died during the Cardassian Occupation, and my mind rejected the figure like a piece of garbage. We'd been in the service of the state, I had told myself, and the state had determined what was necessary. But now I understood why she hated me. More important, I now understood the constant burning, almost insane look in her eyes.

Most of us who are left, Doctor, are insane. We have to be in order to survive and emerge from our isolation. It's the only way we can live with the pain of what we did. Or didn't. Each of us accepts the amount of responsibility we are capable of bearing. Some accept nothing, and these people are quickly swallowed by their isolation, their insanity transformed into a rationalized evil. A smaller group accepts total responsibility, and their insanity is an unbearable burden that cripples and eventually grinds them down. The rest of us carry what we can and leave the rest. For myself, Doctor, when a corpse is too heavy to bury I try to remember to ask someone to help me."

Rwanda. Darfur. Northern Iraq. We all just want to get on with our lives. They did, too.
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