Americans are being encouraged to believe that there can exist a world in which there is no risk, but such a world is an ideal that cannot be realized. Every action, every response implies risk.
What VP Cheney and President Bush were promoting is the ancient response, if you encountered a stranger who was not of your tribe, you killed him or he killed you creating a world in which there was perpetual conflict, a ‘state of nature.’ The only response to any threat was to apply the ultimate sanction.
There are certain risks that I must take, to achieve peace on earth and goodwill among men, these risks imply self interest but constitute risks nonetheless. Based on the Golden Rule which is the fundamental rule I live by, I will not detain another human being without evidence that he means me harm, and I mean hard evidence, evidence that I can present in a court and that most reasonable men and women will accept.
I would not kidnap a man or woman off the streets and detain him or her for years without due process, as Bush, Cheney and now Obama are content to do, because of nothing he has done but because of something that I suspect he may do, because I would really hate for someone to do that to me.
That is the standard that ultimately and irrevocably guides my actions, simple justice, I do to others as I would have them do to me – even if there is risk, because that is the only way we can create a better world, a world at peace.
By employing this enlightened perspective, I rise above my fear, I rise above my suspicions, I rise above paranoia.
Every risk that arises out of my attachment to my values, out of my sense of justice, of equity, of fair play, is a risk I must gladly, joyfully, DUTIFULLY take, because it is my willingness to take such risks, that makes me more than a talking animal, that make me more than a monster, that affirms that I aspire to be a civilized human being whose actions are mediated by intelligence and limited by the dictates of my conscience.
My take on what is going on right now is that to give meaning to the notion that might is right, to reinforce and concertize the rights and privileges of a minuscule elite, fear and suspicion are being magnified out of all proportion to return us to that zone of perpetual competition and conflict, the ‘state of nature.’
The word is love, the aim is peace on earth and goodwill among men.
William E. Virtue, MEMPHIS, TN