02 May 2011

Just Imagine, That's All I Ask

In the immediate aftermath of Osama Bin Laden's slaying, I've seen that many commentaries on major news sites have trumpeted the death of this "loser" who "failed" in his mission.

Sadly, I cannot agree. Because of the terrorist attacks he engineered on 11 September 2001, the United States has squandered billions of dollars on a war on terror. (That is to say, there is an undeclared war on a tactic.) This war was not funded by a tax increase and is thus partially responsible for an ongoing economic crisis that has cost hundreds of thousands of Americans their jobs.

The war has claimed the lives of thousands of Americans while many more soldiers have suffered permanent physical injuries including loss of limbs, movement and sight. Still others endure ongoing emotional stress.

Meanwhile tens of thousands of Asians have been killed by American military action. The trauma to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan has been incalculable. Hatred for the U.S. and the recruitment of future terrorists have risen in much of the region. The United States has solidified its reputation as a chest thumping bully who kills flies with shotguns.

Perhaps this was Bin Laden's plan. If so, it worked to perfection. Killing him hardly makes up in the slightest for the damage he has done. It was as if he predicted the incredible over reaction in this country and the consequent costs to U.S. time, resources and money.

Imagine if in in the wake of the terrorist attacks the United States had taken a different approach. Imagine if this great and powerful nation had rejected the impulse to enact military reprisals. Imagine if instead the government invested all the resources that were expended on military actions to honoring the victims by improving our schools, hospitals, infrastructure, health care, parks and boosting funding in scientific and medical research. And now imagine if the U.S. did the same for those same countries it instead bombed and invaded.

Imagine how the world would be today.

Would the U.S. have been perceived as weak for not coming out with guns blazing? Or would it command respect for not resorting to answering violence with violence? Wouldn't it have been a fine example for the rest of the world? Especially the children? Instead there has been more violence and today the death of a single man is celebrated with high fives. I think Bin Laden has been figuratively high-fiving his compatriots for these past nine plus years seeing America's rage in action. What a shock to him if the U.S. had responded peacefully. You might say that the U.S. would then have been seen as weak and vulnerable. But I think it would have been a shining victory of reasonableness over bellicosity exemplifying the best in religious teachings.

I know, I know, you think the whole idea is insane. But look what sane people have done with the world.

One last point. President Obama referred to the men who carried out the killing of Bin Laden as, among other things, patriots. Why is that the strongest expression of patriotism in this society is framed in military terms? It's considered an act of patriotism to join the armed forces. Love of country is expressed as flag waving, saluting, national anthem singing and supporting our troops. In other words, militaristic nationalism. Can't love of country be evidenced by participating in government? Speaking out on issues, voting, voicing concerns. Contributing to charities. Serving one's community? Must patriotism always be a show of force?

Just asking.


Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one 
       -John Lennon


Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
       - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

2 comments:

Sophie said...

Brilliantly and compassionately said. Thank you.

Tudor Queen said...

Beautiful, again. For some reason I'm put in mind of both the film and novel of "The English Patient", which drive home the idea that borders, boundaries and 'putting people into boxes' are the things that lead to war, death and madness. Worth thinking about, anyway