In a world abundant with material possessions and desires, coupled with humanity’s unending quest for advancement, the question of whether there could ever be a limit to humanity’s creations and demands is a justifiably reasonable query. Since there are no bounds to human creativity, what is it that one would ask for, if provided with the opportunity to conjure anything from thin air? If you were to be blessed with such an opportunity, what would you ask for? There are countless answers to this hypothetical question, but there is one common one: You would ask for something, regardless of how large or small the demand may be.
It is human nature to be unsatisfied with what we have. Constance and satisfaction are but a few examples of virtues humanity has not been blessed with. For an ever growing world that changes, progresses and develops with the passing of time, the act of submission and satisfaction is unacceptable. Perhaps this quality is not one to boast about. But how else would society move on and progress without being stuck at one point if humans did not have the desperate need to improve? The various answers to this question regarding one’s desires display our situations and our deepest wishes.
A doctor might yearn for the power to heal anyone that darkens their doorstep, a politician might crave for power enough to grant complete dominion over all, and a businessman might want a treasury deep enough to sustain the next ten generations with ease. But what of those of us who do not want riches or power but the most bare and basic need of all? Life? What is it that makes these two cravings so similar yet poles apart at the same time? For the children dead on both sides of any war, the only desire their pure hearts held was safety, and an end to their suffering. For many of us fortunate enough, luxury might be defined as designer clothes, exotic delicacies from across the planet or even a vacation in an isolated place. But what of those for whom these items are not a concept at all, as basic needs such as dignity or safety itself are foreign? To the victims who have lost their parents and siblings, friends and acquaintances for reasons as silly as war, the right to live without fear is a luxury one cannot afford no matter the price you are willing to pay. The sad fact here is, all humans, even if we belong to the same race, are somehow not equally equitable to just “existing”. But one might argue that certain wars are justifiably correct! When we fight against corrupt people or disturbing ideologies that threaten the sanctity of humanity as an emotion, it must be correct. But is it? Who determines these plainly observable criminal offenses to be correct or incorrect? Is it the victims who had no hand in the decisions that turned the world against them? Obviously not. To this there is a quote by philosopher Bertrand Russell, that sums up this whole argument in a few words, “War does not determine who is right, only who is left”.
In any endeavor that remotely resembles this situation, a heavy price is paid for the damages theoretically and literally caused, but not by the ones responsible for it. The gun that shoots innocents is placed upon the shoulders of a people who are unaware, but the trigger is pulled from the shadows by ungodly leviathans. To those of us that still believe these occasions of genocide are even obscurely justifiable, can say it so to the babe that just lost the comfort of its mother’s lap and the shade of its father’s protection, all for a crime they did not even commit. What fault can there be in innocents that wish to be afforded the luxury of life. While our children wish for things any child should be allowed to ask for at their age like toys or chocolates or even good grades, why is it that those children that face the horrors of conflict are forced to wish desperately upon all gods and powers of this world for food, shelter or just to be able to see tomorrow’s daylight?
History has borne witness to countless instances where the human race has failed to uphold righteousness and justice. Since the 1800’s alone, an estimated 37 million people have died worldwide actively fighting in wars. The death toll would be much higher if civilian loss of life is to be accounted for. As of now, over 400 million children live in countries involved in wars or other violent conflicts. In WWII, about 1.8 million victims were children. Even now, the casualties in the current Israel-Hamas and Russo-Ukraine wars are rising at 28,000 and 514,500 respectively. What fault did these innocents have? All of them, civilians or otherwise, are precious lives lost for a cause that doesn’t even matter in the grand scheme of things. If their stories were to be heard, humanity might finally learn of the insignificance of pride and prejudice when life itself is threatened. No matter how many testimonies are taken or victims are accounted for, the truth remains plain and simple: The world is a cruel place that does not hold enough love and empathy to be shared among everyone, especially if the person in question is powerless to even protect their own life. So, I ask you to wonder, dear reader, what is the luxury of life?
Sergio Shumsher JB Rana is an A Levels student at Trinity International College.
[Related: Nepal: Glory of the past, vision for future]