‘There is no right way to do a wrong thing.’


A regime change can seldom be brought about by outside interests and foreign invaders when an ambitious emperor, a military dictator, a powerful warlord, or a spiritual leader rules a country with an iron fist. There is no right way to effect a peaceful change that is considered wrong by a ruler. The failure to establish sustainable government changes that are accepted by the majority of the citizens of a country are numerous. Israel, Iraq, and Afghanistan are the most current examples of meddling by foreign interests that will not be able to negotiate peaceful solutions.

There is no right way to rob a bank using a gun. There is no right way to have a love affair with someone who isn’t your spouse. The is no right way to “con” an investor out of his money. If Americans would stop long enough to consider how they would react if some foreign country or group of foreign countries would pressure our government to change its ways, then these thoughtful Americans would understand why our “regime change” ventures are doomed to failure from the outset.

Only as a consequence of World War II, were significant regime changes possible in Germany, Japan, and Italy. Other negotiated political solutions brought unhappiness to satellite countries in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union. The brutality and injustice of regimes in Somalia, the Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Burma are ignored for the moment. Verbal denouncements of the leaders of these countries are useless because there is no “right” way to influence corrupt and arrogant leaders to change.

Is there a “right” way to execute a convicted murdered or a serial killer? The judges in California won’t approve our system of lethal injection because the criminal doesn’t die instantly and painlessly. Is there a “right” way to punish the wrongs of the many perpetrators of the Great Recession? If there is, why hasn’t our government done so?

Is there a “right” way to sanction Iran where the people won’t bear the brunt of the action taken by foreign interests? Is there a “right” way to end the negative effects of tenure in our educational system? Is there a “right” way to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrant scofflaws?

Why do humans believe there is a “right” way to do everything? There may be a better way to do certain things, depending on how a person defines the word “better” in any context. Likewise, depending on how you define the word “wrong,” how does society know what is the “right” way to treat “wrong-doers?” How can humans determine the “right” way to make the “punishment fit the crime?” Three strikes and you are out works fine in baseball, but no one is subject to a long prison term for striking out at the ball park. The jury system seems to work in America, until we admit that the law is unfair, some witnesses lie, and the jury is often secretly prejudiced?

Conventional wisdom is a poor advisor, and metaphors are frequently inadequate. What was the “right” thing to do years ago is often laughed at now. What is the “right” food to eat, the “right” amount of exercise, the “right” attire for a special event, and the “right” education for our youth are determinations arbitrarily made which may be based of faulty, inaccurate, and manipulated data. We are experiencing one of the coolest summers in Northern California. Does that mean all the hullabaloo about global warming is meaningless? With the ubiquitousness of the Internet, the easy accessibility to those who desire to ruin someone’s credibility, and the unscrupulousness of scam artists, can Internet subscribers be confident that the information being disseminated is reliable, accurate, and factual? Who really knows? SNOPES?

I lived and worked in Morocco, Libya, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela, and supervised subsidiaries in Canada and Mexico. Nowhere did I find the local people interested in regime changes spurred by suggestions of ambassadors from the U.S., actions of the CIA, or the intervention of American military forces. “Keep your noses out of our business” was the common message, the same one we would have given to any foreigners who wanted to change our policies and cultural ways of life. Change may be beneficial, but no one wants outsiders to mess with the process of bringing about change.

There is a way to effect change, but it may not be the “right” way. It is to become so successful in doing something well that others want to copy your procedures, methods, and processes. It is a gradual, long term solution, however, and humans are rarely patient.

“Live and let live” is still the best conventional wisdom. Are some folks in foreign locations going to be abused, violated, harmed, and killed? Of course, but that’s the result of obeying Law of the Jungle: the powerful enjoy certain privileges. Is it our job or our responsibility to try to halt the consequences of Nature’s basic law?

When there is no right way to do a wrong thing, the first thing humans should do is try to form a consensus about what are the wrongs that can’t be righted immediately. Remember, there are many wrong ways to do what we believe is a right thing!

Chic Hollis is a longtime drummer and motorcyclist, who served in the US Air Force in North Africa. Married 4 times with 5 children born in 5 different countries on four continents, Chic is a politically independent citizen of the world interested in helping Americans understand the reality that is life overseas where many intelligent, educated, and industrious people aren’t as privileged as we are in the US. He studied Latin, Greek, Russian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German and ran several large companies. Sadly, Chic Has left this planet and we miss him very much, but we are very pleased to display his amazing writing works.