Civilization Fails Us

The following is an excerpt from the talk that I gave for the launch of my book, Barbaric Civilization: A Critical Sociology of Genocide. The launch was held at McNally Robinson Bookstore in Winnipeg on July 14, 2011.  A complete recording of the talk, and the Q&A session that followed it, can be found here on Soundcloud.

I have a theory about why General Romeo Dallaire developed post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide there.

It’s common sense to suppose that he had his breakdown because of all the horrible violence that he had witnessed. I don’t think it’s that.

I don’t think it was even the combination of witnessing that violence and not being able to do anything about it, or do as much about it as he felt he should.  I think there is another layer to the general’s grief.

Dallaire became a soldier because he believed in Canada, in peacekeeping, in the United Nations. He believed that the privileged countries of this Earth were also societies with some measure of enlightenment.

And he believed that those countries would not stand by and do nothing, while innocent women and men and children were raped and murdered, in the clear light of day, in their thousands, in their tens of thousands, in their hundreds of thousands.

And he was wrong.

I think this is what really broke his heart.

What thoughts do you have?

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