"Haves" and the "Have Nots":
On this first day back from our vacation, I haven't had time to write a proper editorial. I have had to gather three days' news, and to water other gardens (literally, as well as figuratively). However, I would offer these few comments about today, and where we stand in the world.
While at Alpine Bay, we witnessed an interview by Larry King of Walter Cronkite. Mr. Cronkite's position on the invasion of Iraq was that we should exhaust every diplomatic expedient before resorting to military intervention. Only if all else fails should we consider such a drastic step as invasion, and then only with support from other friendly nations, and then, only under the aegis of the U. N. The war on terrorism is international. Most terrorists aren't located on U. S. soil. It is imperative that the U. S. work together with the other nations of the world to bring this terrorism to heel.
Another remark he made was that terrorists are bred in the madrases, the Islamic schools that in some cases, have come under the influence of rabid, hard-line Islamic extremists. These are all too often the only schools available to the less affluent in many Islamic countries. You learn the Quran or you learn nothing at all. It's upon this that we must focus.
Above all (he said), we're witnessing a clash between the "haves" and the "have nots". The U. S. has 7% of the world's population, while consuming 25% of the world's resources. The U. S. is living in relative luxury, while the rest of the world is hungry, shivering or sweltering, and lacking any kind of medical or dental care, and above all, lacking hope. There is going to have to be a redistribution of global wealth. The wind is rising.
What Can We Do About This?
This last point (passionately delivered by "Uncle Walter") strikes a resonant chord in me. I've mentioned the steps that Tommie and I have taken to personally reduce our energy consumption. I think it's time that Tommie and I began contributing something to third world prosperity. One possibility might be to adopt a family in Pakistan or Bangladesh (or maybe they would want to adopt us), and send them money, along with providing encouragement, and with sharing what's happening with each other ("...for the gift without the giver is bare"). Another possibility might be to help establish schools and Internet-based businesses that could provide sources of income. I think a great many Americans (both North and South) would be glad to help people who are in dire need. The question is that of how to go about it.
After thinking about it, I'm realizing that the real question is that of how best to stimulate third-world economies, in a manner that provides for a reasonable distribution of wealth. Western nations have learned to their disappointment that the relatively poor will always be with us. The distribution of wealth in a society follows a reversed J-curve, with most people falling on the low-wealth side, and with frequencies rapidly declining with increasing wealth. Supporting people on the dole teaches them to abandon the work ethic and to plan to live off the dole. (Some small fraction of the populace is willing but unable to work, and another small fraction is able but unwilling to work. These people must be supported on the dole.)
Two sources of information about the most effective ways of distributing money to other nations would probably be the U. N., and the Peace Corps. Also, multi-nationals investing abroad probably have a wealth of experience and knowledge about the promises and pitfalls of boot-strapping the third world. That would be particularly true of indigenous citizens who work in those countries, and who manage offshore operations.
Two excellent articles about the future are Future Shock - ABC and Newsweek looks ahead 10 years to project what science, technology, society and the Internet will look like..
Last Night's Uncomfortable Pep Rally
I had an uncomfortable experience last night. It was a 9/11 presentation. What bothered me about it was the madding-crowd orthodoxy of the whole thing. The emphasis was upon Fortress America (which I endorse), but it went to levels of self-approbation that disturb me. My rude awakening, that I've described here previously when I explored current history texts concerning the U. S.' role in the Mexican and Spanish-American Wars (slaughtering 600,000 to 3,000,000 Filipinos, according to Compton's '99 Interactive Encyclopedia), has revealed to me that the United States has not always been as stainless as I thought. I certainly and unconditionally condemn the attack upon the World Trade Center. At the same time, independently of 9/11, I feel that there are financial chasms between most of the world and the wealthy West that must be closed. I feel that, even as we tighten domestic security, we also need to be concentrating upon what we can do to wipe out "the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored". And we shouldn't apotheosize orthodoxy, or emotionally go along with the crowd.
Jesus of Nazareth
Jesus was a renegade in the eyes of the Romans and an apostate in the minds of the Jewish community. In no way did he represent the status quo. He was a revolutionary who told the Gentiles that they could also be part of God's Chosen People merely by accepting Him as their Savior and ticket to salvation. They didn't even have to be circumcised or follow The Law. He claimed to be the Messiah foretold by Isaiah ("For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government shall rest upon his shoulders; and His name will be Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.... "), but the Jewish certainly didn't endorse Him or accept Him as their Messiah.
In 1517, another revolutionary, Martin Luther, posted his 95 theses on the Wittenburg Cathedral door. He was also a revolutionary, soon excommunicated from, and outlawed by the Catholic Church. He was a man who thought for himself, and who acted upon his convictions.
"I Pledge My Life, My Fortune, and My Sacred Honor"
"T'was the 18th of April in '75,
Hardly a man now living was then alive
Who remembers the famous day and year
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere."
Once again, it was rebels who created our present state. America's founding fathers were traitors to King and country, and were outlawed by the Crown. When George Washington pledged his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor, he wasn't just a-woofin'. If the British had caught him or any of his colleagues, they would have hanged them from the nearest apple tree. Not only that but the Founding Fathers were deists. These were not orthodox loyalists and Anglican church-goers. These were men who thought for themselves, and who acted upon those inspired thoughts.
The United States must have been a glowing candle in the night after the French Revolution, Napolean, and the resurgence of the French monarchy extinguished the French Enlightenment.
We Are Rebel Spawn
We are the progeny of rebels at least thrice compounded, and we mustn't forget the precious heritage of men who thought for themselves. Freedom is a lease. It must be earned anew by each succeeding generation. It's rooted in understanding and independent thought. It doesn't mean whitewashing our mistakes. Someone who shows me that I made a mistake has done me a favor. And it's what we do and not what we did that counts.
Or at least, that's what I think.
Mobs are dangerous: witness the Nazis.