2001-11-19 - 10:57 a.m.
Ummm...I'm gonna go all rant-y here for a minute about America and Arrogance and Doing What's Right. It'll pass in a minute. I promise
So this morning I had to reprise my commute, to take my car in to get looked at. On the drive, I went by a church that has a little marquis. I've often marvelled at the inanity of the messages that this church sports. Today's, however, took the cake.
Muslim, Jew, Hindu, et al are welcome to worship Jesus with us.
Let's forget for a moment that this is a religious message (and a rather inconsiderate one, at that). Let's just consider for a moment the attitude and mentality behind this message.
"We're right, and as soon as you admit that we're right, and that you're wrong, then we can all be friends."
That's how I read it.
So as I continued my drive I then heard an opinion piece on NPR from a member of Congress (didn't catch the name), saying that we shouldn't start a war with Iraq. His reasoning, however, was not that oh, say it's *wrong* to start wars with no provocation, but that we would surely lose support in the Arab and Muslim world. Now, I happen to agree with his conclusion, but not his reasoning.
It comes back to the arrogance of the attitude that was evident in the church message, and I believe, is pervasive in our society today. See, we don't have respect in many parts of the world because we don't treat other countries/peoples/cultures with respect. We don't make decisions based on what's *right* but what's *convenient*, what serves our ends.
Case in point, another story on NPR this morning about religious repression (of Muslims) in Uzbekistan, under the guise of quelling political radicalism. It's the same old story, murders, disappearings, torture, incarceration. The US just missed a chance to put Uzbekistan on a list of countries that are guilty of religious repression. Why? Because they're a strategic ally in the war in Afghanistan.
We as a country talk on and on about our high moral character, and how everything we do is motivated out of our sense of what's right. And I want to believe that that's true. I know that we do plenty of good around the world. I know that as a government, as members of different religions, as private citizens, as Americans, we are motivated by charity. And we act on it.
But we also, and the government in particular (I know, Simka, the government is not *them*, it's *us*, bear with me), are motivated by what will get us what we want. And by arrogance. We turn a blind eye while it's convenient. Then when public opinion turns its attention to a matter, all the politicians act all shocked and outraged, as if they hadn't been aware of the atrocities all along.
Back to arrogance for a second. I heard a sound byte on CNN some weeks ago about America marketing itself to the rest of the world. How we need to make the rest of the world realize how great we are. The quote was something on the order of "We invented Hollywood and 5th avenue, we ought to be able to market ourselves."
Once again, seeking the right end for the wrong reasons. Doing a shallow, meaningless "America is your buddy" campaign to people who are starving because of our foreign policy decisions (say in Iraq) is not just arrogant and wrong-headed, but stupid beyond words.
The way to garner good will throughout the world is to *earn* it. To do things worthy of good will.
We as a country must stand up for right and justice all over the world (not just the places where it's convenient). We need to do the right things for the right reasons, and respect that other cultures are different. They don't all need to be like us. We can't only help those that speak and think similarly. We can't only welcome the Jews, Muslims, Hindus et al, and the Arabs, Asians, Africans et al, if they agree to worship Jesus, or try to make themselves more like us.
I mean, this shouldn't be a hard concept, right?
What's right is what's right. What's wrong is what's wrong. Standing up for what's right is not something you can do only when it pleases you. It's a hard task, and often a thankless one. But you do it because it's the *right* thing to do.
Please tell me I'm not the only one who believes this.