The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Bombs in paradise

 Bombs in paradise
Bombs in paradise

Bombs in paradise

There was a time when I was convinced that Bali must be the most beautiful place in the universe. Were it not for my notion that the bounds of creation know no limits to beauty, this idea would still be difficult to dispute.

In May of 2001, I stood on top of the World Trade Center in New York, in sheer awe of our civilization’s capacity for elegance and strength. Mere months later the towers were felled, the point on which I stood knocked out of the sky by hatred.

Over spring break this past April (a break from Western Australia, which is a paradise all its own), I sat in the smoke-filled cacophony that was the Sari Club. I flirted with a Portuguese surfer named Rafael. He turned out to be pretty lame, but was he ever fun to look at. He was a tiny contribution to the infectious romance that Bali exudes. The island is lapped by endless blue ocean, filled with the tremble of looming volcanoes, and drenched alternately by pitiless equatorial sunlight and furious rainstorms.

The people of Bali are so friendly as to appear sort of creepy to those accustomed to comparative Western reserve. They are used to being treated as obliging fixtures inherent to the exotic Indonesian landscape. Bone-crushing poverty and desperation abound in the madness of Kuta and against the rich jungles of the countryside. Yet I walked alone through dark city streets well after partying crowds had dispersed, and never once felt anything resembling fear for my safety. I’ve been lucky to travel somewhat extensively in my scant 22 years, and in few other places on earth have I felt such peace.

A trip to Bali is a sobering testament to our American habit of global exploitation. Air-conditioned shops vend designer jeans. On the sidewalk 10 feet away, ragged children beg for food. They are harrowing contrasts, but the locals endure them with customary grace. They are content to dine from banana leaves and bathe in rainy creek beds. At least, they have been in the past. The tyranny of fast-food culture must touch us all, in the end.

America will not reel from the bombs that killed 200 in Bali as it did from the attacks of Sept. 11, rightfully and understandably so. But those of us who have know this country and its people, its breathtaking beauty and its intoxicating mystique, will mourn the destruction that occurred there.

Did the terrorist car bombs that silenced the dance music at the Sari Club contribute anything at all to the causes of Islam, modesty, or anti-decadence as those terrorist groups proclaim? Has America suddenly become acutely aware of its evils and shortcomings? Has anyone been inspired to change policy or culture as a result? Of course not. They were mindless, violent, pointless acts of barbarism that accomplished nothing and sacrificed innocent lives to a spurious cause. A far cry from the assaults in store for Iraq should its leader make a false move, right?

Will invasions, bombs, and gunfire further the American causes of democracy, peace or justice that we proclaim? Will Saddam or his followers suddenly wake up and realize that they’ve been wrong all this time? Will our manufacturing a war inspire anyone to see things our way? I sincerely doubt it. Where’s the line between an act of terrorism and an act of justifiable war?

Our president appears poised to bet the lives of as many of America’s bravest as it takes to convince Iraq that we will not be disobeyed. We keep hearing that Saddam wants to live, that he values life and wants to stay in power, indeed, George W is gambling the sons and daughters of a generation on it. But how can anyone be sure? Who can measure the mindset of a madman? How much, or how little, will it take for Saddam to decide that since he’s going out, he might as well go out with a bang? And once he (and whoever he takes with him) is out, what makes us think that the world will then somehow spontaneously become a safer place, for us or for anyone?

My memories of cocktail nights at the Sari Club are warm, teeming with life and laughter. Now they are undercut by a touch of coldness, they are made hollow by the horror of human foolishness. We either use our experiences as knowledge, we learn from them and evolve, or we continue the cycle of destruction and death. Today the choice is ours.

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