Posted by: Nathan M. | July 19, 2012

Struggling to Build a Nation

The Memorial

Soldiers view pictures of victims

Yemen is still struggling to find itself among the tragic turmoil which it is forced to endure. Countless tragedies occur on a regular basis among every home within Yemen borders, and it is still very difficult to understand who is right and who is wrong (if anybody). We in the west like to pick sides, and declare certain groups as the just ones. However, war, especially internal war, is never that simple. I admit, I am new to the conflict to a great extent. I have not taken the opportunity to educate myself a great deal on what is going on. But, from what I can see, there are religious, civic, and historic conflicts that are interwoven throughout the entire situation. This means that there is no easy answer, nor is there a “just” actor and unjust actors.

I do believe, however, that the recent memorial in Yemen is a good sign. TimeWorld describes a memorial recently created to commemorate 100 newly graduated soldiers who were killed by a suicide bomber. In the article, “In Yemen, a Controversial Memorial Makes an Important Point“, Bobby Ghosh explains that the memorial has received controversial responses, since it may be providing the suicide bombers with what they are after-public recognition and the creation of terror. However, I believe that a fundamental aspect of nation-building is shared experience. Thus, although difficult, it may be that Yemen can use these bombings and tragedies as a way to bring people together in solidarity. 9/11 in America was an act of terror, but it resulted in the strengthening of the bonds between American citizens, and the bonds between America and other nations-beyond a diplomatic level. Canadians, for example, gained a great deal of sympathy for the American people. Thus, 9/11, while an unimaginable tragedy, can easily be viewed as backfiring on the perpetrators, given the strength which it resulted in. Beyond this, if a nation is to be strong and republic, it must not conceal its hurts, else paternalism develops. As J.S. Mill has pointed out-people must be allowed to engage in public affairs, in order to learn how to use their own liberty. Thus, secrecy in salient public issues (such as suicide bombings), can have a very negative impact on the way in which a people develops. I do hope that Yemen is able to build infrastructure and economic progress, but they must build their people first. And it must be the people of Yemen who do this, not the western world.

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