Friday, November 20, 2015
Who are we?
"Whoever fights monsters should see to it in the process that he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you." ~Nietzche
There is a lot of back and forth on the internet presently about Syrian refugees and them coming to our shores. I have seen a lot of vitriol and anger coming especially from the side that advocates closing the borders and protecting our own. I even saw one person say that he would gladly kill every one of them and not lose a minute of sleep over it to protect his family. Have we been gazing too long into an abyss? Are we not being wary while we wrestle with these monsters that we ourselves are not becoming monsters?
What is it about terrorists and those who would take innocent lives to make their point that we so loathe? Is it not that they do not lose a moment's sleep over trying to kill every one of us to prove a point? What is, or at least what should be better about America and what we stand for is that we do not do this. What exactly do we like about ourselves and teach our children to strive for if we become a people who can flippantly say we will not lose a moment's sleep after killing every last one of them? It is possible this person meant every last one of the terrorists who want to destroy us, but what was being talked about were the 1000's of refugees. There may well be, and probably are some vicious killers in the midst of that mass of humanity, but there are definitely some innocent victims, infants, hard working men and women who just happened to be born in a less fortunate circumstance than we were. I do not doubt that there are some among us who do believe they would willingly kill all of them for an ounce of safety. Those among us who believe that and feel that way are the same as the enemy we claim we are trying to defeat... in short, those who flew planes into our buildings, and killed masses of people in Beirut and Paris and elsewhere in the name of a cause... we are the same as them. We cannot hold the moral high ground anymore once we begin to feel that way. We are at that point also monsters.
We all want to keep our families and loved ones safe, but unfortunately becoming hard and heartless does not help that. It is actually counter productive. Our adventures around the world looking out only for our own interest helps to breed this hatred of us. We exploited Cuba for our own interests... and then came Fidel Castro. We used the Mojahideen in Afghanistan when it was a convenient tool against the USSR, and then abandoned them in the end... and then came Osama bin Laden. We instigated the creation of an anti-Syrian force that we knew would be extremist... and now we have ISIS. We keep doing the same things and expecting different results. We support monsters that destroy a society in our own self interest and then wonder why generations of children grow up to hate us. I am not saying that the actions of extremists are justified, just that we had a hand in creating them with actions that are also very unjustified and in the long run are detrimental to our security. We make stupid decisions on the world stage over and over and over again. It is not a partisan problem either. The Obama administration is raining death from the sky on people all over the world with our drone program... the Bush administration gave us the Iraq War... there is not a side of our political world which is free of these bad decisions.
Back to the refugees... I heard my first friend on the blocking refugee side say, "you want to accept these people without checking them, i am all for refugees but letting them in unchecked is suicide". OK, we can get somewhere. I am all for thoroughly vetting the people coming into this country. We have to do that in an efficient way however. We have translators who worked with our military who we have been left to die because of paperwork and we cannot do that here. I do not know exactly how we do this but we can think of something... we put a man on the moon. Maybe we make a safe zone in the Middle East where people are free from danger and can be checked as we need to. Maybe we team up with Egyptian billionaire guy who is buying Greek islands to relocate people who are in harm's way and they can wait there. Maybe that is even a final destination, who knows. The goal is to get people safe, to me that does not have to be here if we have a viable alternative.
We can be compassionate and smart... we can be strong but loving... we can protect ourselves without turning our backs on the world. With great power comes great responsibility. We need to be the ideals we claim to be standing up to protect. We cannot become monsters ourselves or else all of our service men who die in these wars we have created are dying for nothing and that is unacceptable. Shame on our politicians who take military action lightly and send our sons and daughters off to die without a strategy and a plan for political reasons. We cannot let this happen to these brave men and women who are flying our flag on foreign shores. What we are doing has to mean something of value. We are better than those who would wage war on innocent civilians to try and get us to hide under our bed sheets and give up our freedoms for a sense of safety. We went into Europe and Asia and lost millions of American lives because we were better than fascism. We won with most of our principles intact. We do not have to choose between taking care of our veterans and letting the huddled masses who need these shores come here. If we want to make America great again we have to remember what it is that makes this country a shining light on the hill. It is not money or economic security, it is not that we have bigger bombs then everybody else. This place is great because of the ideals that we stand for and what is written in our Constitution. If it is just our wealth and military might, then we are Rome all over again, and empires always fall. It is the people here and all of those people, regardless of the color of their skin or their religious affiliation or sexual orientation is what makes us strong. Are we truly something amazing that has happened to the world or are we just the next Roman Empire that has passed its zenith and is heading toward slow decline?