America preaches false ideals
President Bush has just released a new version of "The National Security Policy of the United States." It stresses preemptive action against governments that may be developing weapons of mass destruction that may be used against the United States. As reported in the Sept. 19 edition of The New York Times, it also pledges never to let any country come close to us in our technological development of weapons of mass destruction.
This document also stresses, "We will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense to act preemptively against such terrorists." Given our recent adherence to this policy of not listening to anyone but ourselves, this essentially means not discussing with anyone what we are about to do, whether we should do it, or why. At first, this may seem great. We answer to no one, we can do what we want, and we can subdue nations filled with violent radicals that hate us all.
As I was thinking about this, I was thinking about how similar this makes us to the Roman Empire. For hundreds of years, they were the power in their corner of the world. They had no military superior, they had no one to stop them from destroying and taking over another country, another province. They also were responsible for spreading their language and their culture to the rest of the Mediterranean world. This could be considered a good thing in that it unified the area and allowed people to cultivate the arts and the sciences. It could also be considered a bad thing in that it was forcible rule by fear of military strength and destruction of local culture and language by means of death and coercion. It is also very undemocratic.
America, land of the free. We supposedly hold and preach the ideals of freedom for all. This involves dialogue, argument for the betterment of all and respect of new ideas. It is, in fact, these ideals that we use to justify meddling in the affairs of other countries, dropping bombs on them and murdering their people and their leaders. Yet I do not believe that that is what we are doing. How can we truly promote freedom of expression if we are their superiors as a result of our military might? It can't happen. The gospel we really preach is freedom of expression and ideas as long as you don't put it into practice and it doesn't mess with our expression of "self." Which, at the moment, is integrally related to making us more money at the expense of other's basic human rights, using up the world's resources faster than anyone else and making sure that the people who get mad at us for it can't get us while we sleep at night.
This scares me. I do not believe that America, with a divorce rate at or above 60 percent, very high rates of depression, children shooting each other at schools because they are isolated and obesity rates due to unhealthy living that cost us $96 billion in health care costs last year should be leading the world. I say we have no right to act the way we are acting and that we are preaching false ideals. We are suffocating people's creativity and their ability to think for themselves, which is exactly what we're not supposed to be doing. I argue that this suffocation is the first cause of those ills we're experiencing in our own country.
The Roman Empire was great. But once it fell, it fell hard, and it was followed by the dark ages. What put out the lights? Fear of military might, dependence on that might and people not being able to think for themselves.
I, for one, am going to keep my light shining bright and appreciate the glow others give without trying to snuff them out. If that means working with other nations, making a couple of sacrifices, not getting exactly what I want, then I don't mind. People probably won't want to bomb me then anyway.
All Viewpoint Stories for Monday, September 23, 2002