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Peace on Earth

Sat, Sep 15, 2001 02:14AM -0600

And people are angry. And I am angry that they are angry. And the cycle of violence continues. And mosques are being shot at and firebombed, Arab-American owned stores are being ransacked while terrorists plot behind closed doors as how they can open the wound further.

You know what? Maybe the enemy stands before me, behind me, beside me, not in some distant desert land. They weren't shitting us about this Mark of Cain business.

I can't believe I actually overheard people saying that "we should make Afghanistan glow in the dark." Judge, jury, and executioner. Maybe we should just burn the Bill of Rights too. What the terrorists started, maybe we can finish ourselves.

But I know there are a lot of good people in this world. People with their heads on straight. People who understand what America is supposed to be. This idea of being a "beacon of freedom and democracy," despite its abuse by power-hungry politicians, despite the pain and suffering that has been done in its name, isn't bullshit.

The manipulations of the media are starting to get to me. This morning on the radio they played "Peace on Earth" by U2 [Lyrics], interspersed with clips from the tragedy of Tuesday. My heart felt like bursting. The cynic in me wanted to make my own warped remixes using wav files from CNN See if I can make something just as emotionally manipulative. Maybe I can end up working for the CIA or something.

Maybe I'm a little bitter. Is it possible to face insanity without becoming heartless?

A quote, maybe even a prophecy:

We Americans deeply believe that our role in the world is virtuous--that our actions are almost invariably for the good of others as well as ourselves. Even when our country's actions have led to disaster, we assume that the motives behind them were honorable. But the evidence is building up that in the decade following the end of the Cold War, the United States largely abandoned a reliance on diplomacy, economic aid, international law, and multilateral institutions in carrying out its foreign policies and resorted much of the time to bluster, military force, and financial manipulation.

The world is not a safer place as a result.

--Chalmers Johnson, Blowback

Now, look. No one (except very sick individuals) is saying that we deserved what happened. Get this through your head. But the fact of the matter is this: our actions have consequences.

An analogy:

You would never say that a homosexual man who engaged in high risk sexual behavior or an IV drug user who regularly shared needles actually deserved to get HIV (unless you are one of those aforementioned sick individuals), but at the same time, you can't be naieve and deny the incontrovertible facts of cause and effect. This person now has HIV and now they have to deal with it, and they can't go around pretending that nothing has happened.

In the same way, we have suffered from the consequences of our government's policies. I'm not here to second guess the actions of our political leaders, as I obviously do not have access to all the information required to make completely informed judgements. I clearly have my opinions, but that's all they are. (You know what they say about assholes and opinions: everyone's got one.) But surely as coming into contact with blood products carrying virus particles exposes you to HIV, having forces stationed around the world trying to hold together a vast empire exposes us to nefarious forces.

Obviously, if you're intent on foisting your morality on everyone and refuse to acknowledge that we are human beings with deep flaws, then you're not going to accept this analogy, and you're going to condemn people who are not "behaving rightly" and not conforming to your idea of how things work, and reading this is a pointless exercise, and I honestly think that the reason the world is so shitty is because of people like you, but then again, that's an opinion, and so what.

But if you've followed me this far, then we'll continue: a homosexual man shouldn't be expected to give up having sex, an IV drug user would probably be extremely hard pressed to give up drugs. In the same way, it is unlikely that a global empire will just suddenly withdraw its forces from the world and completely shut its doors. But there are obviously precautions you can take. No unprotected sex. No sharing needles. No bombing civilian populations, no gangraping of school children, no slicing through gondola wires in a fighter plane while doing acrobatic tricks. That sort of thing.

And granted, even if you take precautions, things can still blow up in your face. But, hell, life is like that. There is no security in this world whatsoever, which is probably what 9 out of 10 major world religion say anyway. And like Thomas Jefferson says, those who sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither. If you fear death, then you fear life, and then there's really no point in going on.

And still, I fear the ignorance in the world. And I fear that someday I might turn into the very thing that I hate--being as hate-filled as those who hate me. But we cannot be afraid, lest we surrender the fight against terror.

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