Sunday, 16 June 2013

Scores of casualties

100 - 2

  Last year, 2012, a snippet of a poem came to me, partly prompted by the daily scores of casualties in Gaza, with a vague (contrasting and possibly inappropriate) memory of Milton's "Samson Agonistes". The numbers of dead and wounded were reported each day and they were very unbalanced. A heavy defeat in sport is often put in war-like or violent terms - a beating, a thrashing even a massacre. Sometimes a rugby or football / soccer match is said to be approaching "a cricket score", which could be, say, a hundred runs for two wickets lost, or 100 - 2. Whatever the true numbers, this is the impression the Gaza figures made, a reflection and memory of a great imbalance and injustice.

  This comparison of sport to war and vice versa reminds me that some people do consider violence very coldly or perhaps as a game, as long as it doesn't directly affect them, totting up casualties, assessing impact and even PR factors. And of course many soldiers and civilian fighters (the distinction is often now blurred) seem to be trained and to spend their off-duty time on simulations / computer games in which deaths are kept as a running score. As I say, in a fantasy game or in a foreign country it doesn't seem that real human beings are involved. Or at a computer, controlling Drone strikes in Pakistan, perhaps.

  Lurking in the sporting comparison is the English phrase "It's just not cricket." No, war certainly isn't, or shouldn't be, any type of sport, but this sometimes satirised phrase has the basic meaning of  "It's unfair." This is not to trivialise, I think, but to say that we all recognise injustice when we see it.

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