Philosophical musings of Chic Hollis
Part 2. Justifying an untried solution that’s been ignored everywhere.
Yet, what else can the unhappy, displeased, unsatisfied citizens do to call attention to their perceived plight but become annoying objectors? (Some conscientious, others not!) Many members of the silent majority probably have similar feelings, but take no action. Incumbent leaders appear insensitive to “popular” demands, since they are mostly interested in their own continued employment which usually requires them to heed the recommendations of lobbyists and the other influential supporters of their party.
So, how can anyone call attention to the needs of those people who are forgotten or ignored by the successful, the “in group,” the helmsmen and women who have the power to manipulate minds? Each activist uses whatever rallying cry is necessary: religious bigotry, economic exploitation, racial discrimination, or unjust “legal” treatment. All leaders have to avoid antagonizing the radical fringe elements, or they get what happened in New York City and at the Pentagon on 9/11 to embarrass a supposedly invulnerable superpower.
As difficult as it is to achieve a common viewpoint about how to “run a country” where the vast majority speaks the same language and mostly respects the law, it is infinitely more difficult to coordinate the interests of countries who lack the institutions, the commerce, the resources, and the benefits of being an unchallenged debtor nation. By ignoring the interests of others just because ours seem more important to us, doesn’t facilitate integrating this nation with other countries whose interests are different from ours.
The rich man throws a beggar some coins, because he has some spare change. That doesn’t resolve the beggar’s problems. Throwing money at thorny issues here or abroad seldom does more than provide the thrower with an explanation that some unknown person is supposedly taking care of the problem for the time being – even though it becomes obvious later that little has actually been done to improve the unacceptable situation.
You can’t go out in traffic, to a sporting event, to a shopping center, to a rock concert, or to a political rally without becoming aware how many different people there are “moving and shaking.” Many of these people are ostensibly going in your direction, mimicking your actions, pursuing your same amusements, and wasting their energy as they desire – just as you are doing. But they are doing these similar things for entirely different reasons, because of certain very special personal preferences, and as a consequence of very different commitments.
Everyone who is waving a flag today isn’t ready to enlist in the army tomorrow and go to Afghanistan to suffer great risks to their lives, the indecencies of serving in the military, and the unknown consequences of a “limited” war – as seemingly “just” as this “war against terrorism” might appear to American citizens grieving over lost friends and family members.
If we feel separate, unequal, selfish, and perverse, how do those Muslims feel after years of being ignored by this nation’s leaders? Although the reason for their frustrations may be due to their inability of become “modern” in our sense of the word, it doesn’t excuse us from ignoring their needs and their orientation because we have limited shared interests. Muslims are a large part of this global community, whether we like it or ignore it. They have the same, simple, individual human aspirations as we do: to survive cold, hunger, thirst, and the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” They are industrious in their ways, serious in their thoughts, and misguided as we frequently are. They maybe “out there” in some fringe existence somewhere but not as loathsome insects, beasts of prey, or parasites.
We need to understand that some of them are violent, insane perhaps, and ready to defend corrupt and vengeful leaders. Yet, we must find a way to reach those we don’t see and read about – who only want to live in peace and find their own particular form of happiness. Those “foreigners” who live like the silent majority here waving their flags, supporting their presidents, and wanting nothing more than to pursue a better way of life as they individually define that.
Our way of life may not be attainable for them for a variety of reasons. (Nor desired.) Still, both of us must understand those reasons. This understanding can’t be achieved merely through propaganda as our media is suggesting. There has to be mutual interests encouraged between us for this to happen. In the interim, we cannot put our interests ahead of theirs nor ignore theirs any longer.
It may be too late to convince the Muslims that we aren’t the materialistic nation they see on TV and read about in their biased periodicals and newspapers. That we aren’t the resource gobbling society that restricts credit to poor nations as portrayed by their leaders. That we are going to support international institutions in their efforts to solve the world’s problems. Any future effort to reduce terrorism must not be the result of some loosely formed coalition of nations friendly to the U.S. today, but a bona fide intelligent project spearheaded by the United Nations who is supposedly responsible for mutual cooperation of all nations. We must accept the U.N.’s role and be an obedient, dues paying participant.
Before we violently roust out the deviants, the “terrorists,” we must acknowledge that their deviant actions compel us to address issues that create further deviants. Bombing weak nations may not be as productive as our leaders believe. This action would not have been taken against large nations like China, India, and Russia. We only take such action against nations who have no effective air defenses like Libya, Iraq, and Serbia, and who lack the ability for significant military responses except periodic, individual acts we choose to call “terrorism.”
From our standpoint abusive economic acts to protect our interests are “fair.” Sanctions are permissible. Threats of unilateral armed intervention are always behind our intentions to obtain “cooperation.” The U.S. functions like the Sicilian Mafia, above or outside international law. The U.N. is about as ineffectual in containing our economic and “self-defending” acts as the government of Italy is to handle the criminal acts of the Mafia.
Although each nation vociferously defends its sovereignty, its citizens cannot make any progress toward global unity without accepting and using the United Nations. From our Western Hemisphere viewpoint, actions taken by the U.N. hierarchy may be slow, the solutions inadequate, and the justice unbalanced. But its purpose as a world arbitrator is precisely to reduce separateness, inequality, selfishness, and perversity where these human traits dominate powerful governments and nations. If we, pretending to be a superpower, don’t respect the U.N. and heed its decisions, no one else will either.
We pretend to the people in other nations that the citizens in America aren’t separate, “more” equal, selfish, and perverse, and that our government is responsive to problems in other parts of the world. This propaganda may be beneficial. But we can assist bringing peace and unity to this planet only if we relinquish our “bully” or superpower mentality, accede to the U.N.’s leadership, and follow the direction of the majority of nation states represented in that international organization. All of us are different, with different ambitions and different goals. All nations have different aspirations and present a culture that may not be representative of their people. We must recognize the many differences and respect the right to be different. If not, conflicts will never end, and terrorism will always be a problem that the present war won’t settle.
The disenchanted, the disappointed, the dissatisfied, the delusional, the divisive, and the disenfranchised will always circulate among us grumbling and cursing those in power. Likewise, the deceptive and powerful will be abusing the innocent and the powerless. The seekers to control others will be striving toward total domination of the uneducated, the gullible, and the naive. And the self-appointed “holy” prophets will be promising salvation to those who desire peace and eternal life.
Where is the essence of our humanity buried in all these striving individuals and their charges? What is the reasonable person to believe, to copy, to adopt as a standard? Who is imbued with enough wisdom to sort this all out and inspire us to take a new path toward enlightenment and a global community? Or is there anyone intelligent enough to unite the separate, unequal, self-focused, and perverse people and nations?
I have some reasonable doubt that such a person will come forth from the institutionalized disunity that pervades our country and the global society. But humans mustn’t give up trying to establish a unity that fosters peaceful solutions to our various social problems.