Letter: Like frightened children
February 16, 2017
When did we acquiesce to being a nation of scared, incompetent children? When I was growing up, we were eager to plunge into real life, ready to accept the risks that we knew were the costs of adult autonomy.
We actually believed the Kantian precept, "It is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong," was necessary for a functioning society of equals. While the right to defend oneself from attack was unquestioned, few advocated the rightness of pre-emptive attacks against those whose threats existed only in our minds. Instead, the prudent response to threats is to ask what offense of ours prompted them.
Parents have told children, generation after generation, to look into their conscience; if a fault is detected, acknowledge it, apologize, make amends — and learn the lesson of the experience. Apparently, countries must do the opposite: deny everything, cover up wrongdoing, save face by asserting the right to offend with impunity.
Two images: a sea of displaced, terrorized humanity with nowhere to go. A few countries taking in as many as it can absorb, but others, especially the U.S., which has stirred the cauldron of seething violence in the Middle East to boiling point, denying any responsibility and refusing even the decent response the well-off owe to those in desperate need. And why? Because we are afraid one or two out of the millions might someday harm some of us. We cower under the wings of a demagogue for protection.
The other: Picture eight white men who own as much of the world as its poorer half of humanity.
If we do not find these two images absolutely obscene, what have we become? If these images make us shrivel with shame, what are we going to do about it?