“Casualty” – Redefined

Violent conflict takes various forms; it is true however that in whatever setting it showers negativity upon those of all walks of life.  Causalities of war and violence appear on different faces — the young, the old, the soldier, the vagabond, the mother and the child.

With war comes death, and these deaths mount astonishing numbers regardless of the conflict.  In one fictional, historical account, penned by modern author Stuart D. Lee, The Ghosts May Laugh, we see just how death is dealt with in the trenches and on the front line of, in this case, World War I.  It is common to hear of casualties, those dead or dying, those missing in action; it is a phenomenon, or maybe a staple, of war.  In the play, we become aware of the effects of a casualty, not only through the dialogue of the characters, but through the over-looming sense that those who are deceased hang around even beyond death.  Death manifests in Miller, Saunder’s brother, and each of the officer’s respective story ghosts. Casualties of war become common-place, and seem to be chatted about with an air of detachment.

JENKINS. Hmm, right. (Pause.) You heard about Miller I suppose?
JONES. Yes.
JENKINS. Damned shame that. (Pause.) Still, if you’re going to play silly
arses with a sandbag on the parapet what do you expect? (Pause.) Still,
damned shame. Damned damned shame. (pg. 5).

The context varies, but death haunts the play in its entirety.

And back to Africa we go.
Unrest takes a different form in the states of the continent of Africa.  Across its vast plain a number of countries are struggling under conditions that are less than desirable, with a horrible plague: forced evictions. Citizens of Angola, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe face similar situations forced displacement through the violent force of evictions by their governments. In Chad, one man gives account:

“I bought this place more than 38 years ago. On 29 February, some policemen and the people from the mayor’s office came and covered the walls in paint. They told us that we had six days to leave. When we asked them why, they said we did not have the right to ask questions because it was a state of emergency. We could not get together and talk about it among ourselves, it was forbidden. The residents took their personal belongings and left. Some of them who have money will not have any difficulty in renting another house, those without money will go to their village or to Cameroon.”

These episodes, when executed, leave thousands homeless, and yet there is no accountability for this heinous violation of human rights.

We are use to hearing of casualties of war, violence, disaster, and we are used to hearing of them as deceased.  But, how much of a person is stripped and left when one is forcibly removed from their home, placed in foreign lands, or even worse, left to nothing?  Traditionally, we think casualty, we think death, but perhaps a casualty is anyone who is left a former version of oneself because of unjust actions.  Perhaps through new acts of violence classic terms associated with disaster claim new definitions.

Amnesty International
2009
Full Article

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2 Responses to ““Casualty” – Redefined”


  1. 1 Family Matters October 27, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    So, I love coming to your blogs because I always know I’m going to learn of something I’ve never heard of before. I completely agree with your opinion that casualties are not only the people who are killed in the process of war. so many people are affected by the consequences of war whether it be because a loved one fought in the war and came home a completely different person or if their parents spent time in a concentration camp and that affected the way their children were brought up. I don’t think our media spend enough time covering stories like this and that is why so many people don’t even know this is going on. I’m not a history major, or political science or anything like that so I don’t take classes that have anything to do with things like this. And, I rarely watch TV so even if it was on the news I wouldn’t know about it. We’re so consumed with the soldiers and how hard the war is on them and all that. But, when it comes down to it they made a choice and yes a sacrifice to fight in the war. This isn’t Vietnam. These people aren’t going against their will to fight for the war. I mean, of course I think it takes a great deal of courage to go fight in a war and I definitely have a lot of respect for those who do it, because I know I couldn’t, but the fact of the matter is, it was there choice. Maybe, if more people knew about these casualties happening all over, in Africa specifically, more things would be done to help these victims of home invasion.


  1. 1 Comments. « Swanderc's Blog Trackback on November 7, 2009 at 3:00 am

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