Blast site in Beirut, left; Wissam Eid, right

Another city, another bomb, more deaths. It could be anywhere in the Middle East these days, but I am referring to a bomb that went off in a Christian neighborhood of Beirut yesterday. If you lived in Beirut you would see the devastation without media cleansing. An Arabic report is viewable at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=70b_1201323034 and needs no translation, but the BBC also has a video report at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=fc6_1201258935. For the raw footage of the aftermath another video is also on the net at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=010_1201257690.

According to the latest reports at least five people died, including Wissam Eid, a senior intelligence officer, as well as more than 40 wounded. It was shocking enough in a country that has witnessed so many bombings and bloodshed, most recently the loss of Major General Francois al-Hajj, who was killed on Wednesday by a car bomb. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has declared today, Saturday, a national day of mourning in Lebanon.

Look at the picture of Wissam Eid, posted above. Look beyond this one face to the mutilated bodies of thousands that die each year from bombs and guns, not just in the Middle East. Are there any tears in your eyes today or is this just somebody else’s problem because it is somebody else’s face?

While American politicians debate the effectiveness of the surge in Iraq, ignore the annual increases in the Afghan poppy harvest and continue to detour from any viable roadmap to peace over the Palestinian issue, the bombs continue to take their toll. Whether taking out a military officer or blasting fellow believers in a mosque, the varying motivations for such carnage are not the real issue. And blaming Al-Qaeda for every bomb blast and assassination is inventing our own Great Satan. Hate is not hatched by Quran-quoting wannabe clerics in a cave but out of the raw sewage of the way people are treated and treat each other in anti-golden-rule style.

The wars, atrocities, crimes, inquisitions, pogroms and ethnic cleansings appear at times to make this the beast of all possible worlds. I am not talking about original sin, but the failure to wed rationality with compassion. Voltaire had it right when he said “ecrasez l’infame.” It is not enough to rant about the poison that inflames intolerance and violence because it is part of our shared humanity. There but for the grace of being born in a refugee camp or the wrong side of Beirut or the wrong part of Baghdad go we.

Daniel Martin Varisco