Maybe you would like to believe there is no such thing as evil in the world- or that we can't decide or operate some decisions based on good and evil. Moral relativism is a destructive thing. Maybe if right and wrong didn't exist - we would never have to worry about being wrong. Weren't those the easiest questions in school- "Go ahead and give an opinion class, there is no right or wrong answer." Maybe that is true sometimes. But what is also true is that many times in life there are right and wrong answers. And there is good and evil in the world. No matter how many people, like Madame Albright, would like you to believe otherwise. We have too much recorded human history to know otherwise. Not having right and wrong, or good and evil, in this world makes life rosier for those who think like albright- because it means there is no wrong for them. While you may think that life is more complicated without right or wrong- think again. It is easier. Knowing right from wrong, and what is good and evil, forces us to make a choice- to take a stand. It means that we have to commit to something- a way to live your life. It doesn't mean that once you choose to do something wrong, you can't change. You can - you can change your life. But it does mean that in life you will have to gird up your cherries and face difficulties, unpopular positions, or face scary people.
We face one such time in the world now... a time when there are evil people doing wrong against others, a time when the freedom to choose for oneself is in danger, a time when hard choices and sacrifices need to be made, a time when the good fight needs to be finished and saw through the end. This is even a time when those who make the hard choices are vilified for making them. Your grandparents and great-grandparents know something about these times. Just ask them what life was like back in 1942.
The state of the world is perhaps no better or worse than it was 64 years ago. Or is it? In 1942 we had recently entered a war that was brought to us. We fought those aggressors, but then fought in another front against a country that had not declared war on us. We did it to defeat and remove a dictator. An odious regime whose extent of evil we only truly understood as the years went on. We had limited intelligence, but we had some grasp on what was happening- we also knew that we would have to sacrifice many lives and fortunes to make our own future and the future of our allies secure. To do so we forged alliances with questionable allies, some our own citizens did not completely trust. The President and the military sent our young men (and women) overseas to take the fight to the enemy to fight a war, that became whether anyone thought so at the time or not, a war to preserve and promote democracy.
Not that the things at home were any easier. Just a mere decade and half before, we had been enjoying a season of abandon and abundance- then financial ruin. We were just emerging and making our way out of that ruin when war came. And because of that war, we had to sacrifice personally and as a nation to ensure some success. Of course there were some celebrities and public figures who used their fame and speaking opportunities to say we shouldn't be at war- some nationally beloved figures even met with the enemy in prewar years and even in the midst of war argued for our country to leave the battle to others. Some even declared that our administration, our British allies, and our ally Israel were to blame for the current war- not the enemy. While many American families had sent relatives, friends, and family to fight - it was hard not to be discouraged by losses, the dead, and the little progress made.
What has changed in 64 years? We and our allies defeated Germany, Italy, and Japan- who are today some of our strongest allies, despite some recent rumblings in Germany. We were able to win the war after 4 years- but it took years after that to win the peace. Reform, rebuilding, and
refinancing these countries during the years in which we were an occupying force was difficult and took the patience, time, and hope of many who could not see 50 -60 years into the future to know how they would be today. It took an ounce of hope, a measure of courage, and an abundance of faith. Despite the rumblings and critics at home, these things were accomplished, but it took a generation of people who had grown up through a depression and amid devastation to work, and hope, and to have that faith and courage. No matter what the papers said. No matter what the famous said. They presevered. They eventually came home and further built our own country. Many innovations happened in the post war years- brought about by research, work, and ambition from these former soldiers, scientists, civilians, and men and women who lived and fought through the war.
Next time you turn onto the Highway and drive your automatic transmission car home, stop off at McDonald's to get a bite to eat, get home and maybe pop those fries into the microwave to warm them up - and then turn on the TV to eat and watch - you might think about that generation of people who had something to do with the development of all those things and many others we enjoy each day. Even the ipods, computers, and other 21st century development built upon the research and products of others. I'm not suggesting that the war was worth it to get a microwave- I'm saying the war preserved our freedom and democracy - and allowed for life and innovation to grow around the world. In the drive to fight the war- new technology was developed and fortunately it was put to good use after the war in the areas of medicine, health and hygiene, the development of computers and transportation, etc.
The next time you read something about blunders in the middle east, or an unnecessary war, or lack of equipment, or misguided war, or defeats, or leaving Iraq and leaving the fighting to them, or critiques of our Administration, the British and Israel, or war mongering, etc.- and any number of diatribes, pathetic ideologues, second guessing, and thinly veiled attempts to placate the enemy... remember 2 things.
1. Be grateful that you live in a country that cherishes freedom - including the freedom of speech so that all can voice their views without fear of imprisonment, reprisal, or death.
and 2. Be aware that many others in other countries now, like Iran and North Korea and Syria - do not enjoy those same freedoms. Remember that other countries like Nazi Germany, imperialist Japan, Mussolini Italy, and others - once did not enjoy those freedoms. Today a free Germany, a free Japan, a free Italy do enjoy those freedoms. Now a free Iraq is trying its darnedest to do the same. Maybe others in the middle east will follow.
(Also see this for a little perspective on the casualties. Thanks to Maggie's Farm for the link.)
While those who want us out employ everything from fear mongering, racism, and hate to turn us away- let us be mindful that we will make mistakes, things will be difficult, and it won't happen overnight. Lets give the effort for freedom and democracy the same ounce of hope, measure of courage, and abundance of faith that our grandparents and great-grandparents gave. Then maybe - we will see freedom grow and people allowed to live and worship and speak and read and work and vote as their conscience allows. Free Agency- to be able to choose and act for oneself- is precious and an inherent human right. We said so and believed it 230 years ago in our Declaration of Independence. It's high time we acted like it today. Maybe there is no such thing as a "good war". War has produced suffering for all sides throughout history- but that does not mean that war is therefore unnecessary. War is a difficult choice- sometimes not even of our choosing- one brought to us at times. Sometimes war is a necessary sacrifice to preserve something or to provide that something to others. Freedom is a precious commodity - one worth fighting for. The honor and the goodness of a war comes in the result - not so much in the fighting. It comes in what we do with it. Do we live in such a way to truly earn it? Can we give others the same opportunity to earn it? Where will we stand? This is a time when we have to make a stand. We will choose to see it through? Is it worth seeing through? Can we sacrifice and make the hard choices anymore? Or by banishing the concept of right and wrong or good and evil as ancient whims do we make life easier by not having to choose? At that point are we any better than the person who stands by, phone in hand, watching someone become the victim of a horrible crime- and do nothing. Not getting involved doesn't make it stop. Ignoring what we have to do doesn't make the crime less horrendous. Choosing to do nothing doesn't absolve us of any responsibility. When we choose to do nothing - when we can do something- we are still making a choice. A wrong one.
For good measure see what VDH has to say about the matter.
Enjoy your freedom this week Shelfers- it's OK to disagree, and argue, and have differences of opinion. Just remember it should be OK for others. Intolerance and indifference in this regard leads to the same at home.
James, earn this... earn it.