There are no Good Guys

The world is on fire with large-scale hate and intolerance right now. Wikipedia lists 57 ongoing armed conflicts ranging from skirmishes to major wars. Here are some of the bigger conflicts:

  • Israel declared war on Hamas after a terror attack 32 days ago. Currently 13,000 reported dead.
  • Russia invaded Ukraine 18 months ago. About 200,000 dead since the start of that; over 30,000 this year.
  • Insurgency in North Africa going on across 15 countries for 21 years has killed 54,000 people with 12,000 dead this year.
  • Myanmar’s long-running internal conflict (since 1945) killed over 200,00 and has taken 12,000 people this year.
  • Sudan has been fighting itself since April. 11,000 dead.

As far as I can tell, these are all complex wars for territory, resources and political power. In most of them, one side is stronger. One side is scrappier. There are a lot of civilian victims.

Nobody is the Good Guys. There is no right side in any of these conflicts. For example:

  • Hamas terrorists shield themselves by quartering with their civilian populations and in humanitarian spaces like schools and hospitals. That’s shitty.
  • Israel cuts off supplies, power grids, escape routes in order to get their enemies. But those tactics also affect the general population. Not cool.

Across the board, there is a stomach churning amount of propaganda and misinformation. Inflation of numbers, both good and bad. Manifestoes, patriotism, and rousing speeches.

Where is the negotiation, conflict resolution, diplomacy? Good faith. Trying for a win-win? Everyone wants everyone else dead or out of their territory. They want all the toys, all the best for “their people” and nothing but pain for everyone else.

I want to cheer on some side or another. But I can’t. Every government at war and every terrorist organization is a Bad Guy. Shame on them all.

To the governments and groups in conflict, I want to shout “Let go! You are hurting people – yours and theirs. Find compromise. There is enough to go around. Stop being motivated by fear and greed.”

All I can do is feel sadness and compassion for the people in these war zones who are trying to live their lives. Palestinians and Israelis are suffering due to the actions of the people in charge. Ukrainians and Russians, both suffering. I know the Myanmar conflict harms hill tribes and creates a humanitarian crisis along the Thai border. I can only imagine what is it like in any of the 54 other conflicts around the world.

(conflict map, By Futuretrillionaire, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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Mediatinker, Kristen McQuillin, is an American-born resident of Japan since 1998. This blog chronicles her life, projects, thoughts, and small adventures.