31 March 2017
The Victor and The Victim
Innocence. A state so simplistic in its nature, but yet so intimidating and complex to others. It seems baffling, seeing as how innocence is seen as such a positive trait in children, but viewed as a weakness in adults. The complexity of this trait confuses people and makes them doubt themselves, causing them to direct their anger towards their counterparts that radiate innocence. When outbursts of conflict arise, innocent people get killed because the malice and ignorance of their counterparts overpowers their limited ability to protect themselves. In many cases, the people who are affected by these outbursts of violence are bystanders to the madness, victims who were harmed for no reason other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although they could have also been attacked due to their killer’s disdain for them, using their innocence as a dehumanization technique, and counting them as no more than targets who won't fight back. Things like bias and pre-existing prejudices act as a catalyst in the underlying fear that causes people to go after things they don’t understand. In a world where dominance can always overpower innocence, nice guys finish last.
In the novel Lord of The Flies, by William Golding, a group of boys get stranded on a deserted island due to the dawn of a new world war. As conflict arises and order deteriorates, it is up to them to create a makeshift civilization that will protect them from any problems they may face in the future. After having his glasses stolen by the savages, Piggy goes on a conquest to retrieve them. The savages, a group of bloodthirsty adolescent boys, have no empathy for Piggy and no intention to give him his glasses back. As Piggy continues to plead for his glasses, one the savages releases a boulder that crushes him to pieces, killing him in an instant. While the savages were unbothered by his death, Piggy’s friend Ralph was distraught. "Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy,” (202) the narrator says. This quote shows us that Piggy’s death was a shock to Ralph, and the end of a support system. Especially because Piggy was the smartest and most innocent person on the island. He wouldn’t have hurt a fly. The savages’ self-loathing attributes and their want for power overrules their once keen senses that prevented them from hurting others. They see the innocent being as the easiest target to take down on their mission to rise to power. They have no worry that there would be a backlash of attack. This situation is comparable to the Syrian War where innocent people are being killed due to the ignorance and malice of others. They’re lives are taken out of account as they become another number on a death toll, meaning nothing to their murders. Just like the savages, the fighters in Syrian War care more about themselves than the people they are effecting. They take the lives of others with the intention of making an impact for their cause, but instead they take the lives of innocent people. People who did nothing but try to stay out of trouble.
In an article listed on BBC, they referenced The Syrian War as the “Deadliest Year For Children Yet”. According to UNICEF, about 8.4 million - 80% of Syria’s child population - have been affected by this war. Which leads to the question, how could these innocent children be expected to defend themselves when their enemies attack in packs, using weapons and explosives to kill thousands at a time? Fear. The fear of not accomplishing their goals, the fear of the consequences they will face it they go against their leader, the fear of losing. Leading them to go after targets who they know they could win against. Targets who are too young to defend themselves or petrified enough to render them defenseless. After being so fearful to others, attackers being to get scared of themselves. They create facades to hide them from reality, and use them as a way to become a new person. During a roam around the island, the boys discover paint. Jack, the hunter of the group, became enthralled with this new discovery and decided to use the paint to create a mask for himself. As the narrator says, "The mask was a thing of its own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness" (34). By looking at this quote, the reader can see that the mask is what Jack uses to “become” a savage.. It acts as a trademark of his savagery, representing the liberation he receives from forgetting the morals he once valued so deeply.
Statistics show that Syrian children are showing symptoms of psychological strain from the traumas of witnessing war. From observing the mannerisms of the characters in Lord of The Flies, we can see that multiple characters have been affected by the constant threat of violence that surrounds the island. They even show symptoms of anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder. The traits of their disorders are especially shown after one of the boys gets scared by something they saw in the woods. Leaving a outburst of fear on the island, due to the impending predator that they call now call “The Beastie”. In order to calm down the panicked and fearful children Jack says, "Fear can't hurt you any more than a dream. There aren't any beasts to be afraid of on this island. Serve you right if something did get you, you useless lot of cry-babies!" (79) As displayed in the quote, Jack is clearly insensitive towards the feelings of his companions. He dismisses their fear and quickly devises a way to ignore their persistent cries for help. This is a common occurrence, not only in Lord of The Flies, but also throughout our society today. Specifically in the Syrian War where the Syrian government ignores the their civilians attempt to gain help from the enemy. This relates back to innocence because people in positions of power take innocence as a sign of weakness. They view it as something that makes people inferior to them. Something that makes them easy to take down. Innocence is looked at as something to be taken, a prize to be won, a medal to be displayed to represent the impact of the action at hand.
What begins as a peaceful uprising ends as a mourning for loss. Leaving the once confident and innocent being harmed by the actions of its predator. It’s common occurrence in our everyday society, causing people to be fearful of their competitors, and causing them to be fearful of the unknown harm they could face. Because of the fear of the unknown, people hole up and allow others to trample over them. Thus fulfilling the statement nice guys finish last. The sad truth is that the ones who are dominant often understand their dominance, which allows them to take over the ones who are considered “nice”.
"Children of Syria By the Numbers." PBS. Public Broadcasting Service, n.d. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/children-of-syria-by-the-numbers/>.
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Penguin, 2006.
Moore, Jack. "Syria war death toll hits 321,000 with 145,000 more missing: Monitor." Newsweek. N.p., 18 Mar. 2017. <http://www.newsweek.com/sixth-anniversary-syrian-conflict-looms-war-monitor-says-465000-killed-or-567181>.
Pruitt, Sarah. "New Book Sheds Light on the Murder of Emmett Till." History.com A&E Television Networks, 03 Feb. 2017. <http://www.history.com/news/new-book-sheds-light-on-the-murder-of-emmett-till-the-civil-rights-movement>.
"Syria war: 2016 deadliest year yet for children, says Unicef." BBC News. BBC, 13 Mar. 2017. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39252307>.