May 21, 2009

Who can’t handle the truth?

Filed under: Observations,obama — sbj @ 6:42 pm

I just finished reading the full text of Cheney’s speech today on torture and national security (I have not had the chance to read Obama’s… that’s next). My instant response was “Jack Nicholson already gave this speech – and much more convincingly – in the movie A Few Good Men. See it here for yourself:

The problem with these stirring – and candidly, emotionally effective – words is that they are based on the false premise that an U.S. citizens life and safety is greater in some way than the lives and safety of other people based on where they had the good or bad fortune to be born. This is a false justification that I cannot and will not abide by.

If my 85 pound son came home from school battered by the 165 pound bully, I could eliminate the problem by sending my son to school with a baseball bat and instructions to pound the “bully” out of the other child. I assure you, my son would not come home battered and beaten (he broke my nose with a bat, I think he can handle a 165 pound bully). I can also assure you he would not come home a better or safer person. Things are not suddenly “okay” because the larger boy is being beaten up now instead of the smaller one. There is still wanton violence; it is just going in a different direction. In fact the only real difference is that now, my son and I have willingly relinquished our high moral ground.

By attacking the people we believe – or perhaps I should say allege – are responsible for 9/11, and other potential future attacks, we have successfully put them on the defensive. They are being beaten by the bat and therefore cannot bully us. The same can be said for torturing them to obtain information about said attacks. However – as common sense dictates – they are not broken, their intent and resolve remain intact and, if anything, are probably steeled and emboldened by this onslaught.

In the end, what we will have done is traded our character for a transient and temporary safety that will evaporate as soon as our offensive incursion ends (Cheney says as much himself “… therefore needs to be continued as vigilantly as ever…”). And therein lies my concern. Not with the security, mind you, but with the destruction of a character that I have always believed in.

When I was young I said the pledge of allegiance based on my belief that this was a great country. Great because we were the good guys, we did the right things, no matter the personal cost or sacrifice. I teach my children to do the right thing, even if it will be painful or costly for them. Simply put, personal integrity outweighs personal good. I tell them that at the end of the day, the only person they have to face in the mirror is themselves; and I ask them how their actions are going to reflect in those eyes.

How can I effectively teach them this lesson, which I believe to be a core quality of character indicator, when our former vice-president is extolling the virtues of “do unto other before they do unto you” diplomacy? I don’t really have an answer to that right now, but here is what I do know…

If my son ever does come home beat up by a bully, and much as I love and want to protect him, what I’m going to send him back to school with is advice, not a baseball bat. It’s not what Vice President Cheney would do, but on this one he and I are just going to have to agree to disagree…

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  1. Interesting point of view, Soren. Well written.

    I’ve always taught my children never to start a fight. However, if someone is bullying you and throws a punch, you are within your rights to protect yourself. Never, ever as a first strike thing, however. And I still subscribe to that to this very day.

    I don’t have much of an opinion on Dickie Boy. But I know he can be a real asshat …..

    …………… Ruprecht

    Comment by Ruprecht — May 21, 2009 @ 7:13 pm

  2. *applause*

    I’ve found it increasingly difficult to listen to the drivel that has spewed forth from the lips of the former administration. My hopes are that they create a duct tape strong enough to sequester even the loudest idiocies that continue to perpetuate their standpoint.

    That being said, having to face the daily onslaught of bullying to my 12 year old from other children because of his special needs, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to continue to tell him to “turn the other cheek.” He has been attacked no less than 6 times in the past 45 days by varying degrees of educated hatred, has been spit on, punched in the face, kicked and even bitten and yet, he seems to be the one always in trouble for telling the people to leave him the FUCK alone. Apparently assault, battery and hate crimes (yes, he’s been called a N*663R more times than I can count)are now condoned in the school system, while verbally standing up for your rights and setting your boundaries is not. Does that mean that I would ever encourage my child to put his hands on someone else because of it? ABSOLUTELY NOT! See, the minute I encourage “an eye for an eye” behavior, I have lost MY control, dignity and self-respect. Instead, I am teaching him that this other children (and adults) need to be treated with respect and love because really, they are nothing but scared, angry people that don’t know better because nobody ever took the time to teach them right from wrong.

    Is that what we’ve turned into as a nation? A people that have arbitrarily decided that two wrongs do make a right and therefore we can justify our evils under the guise of protecting our EGO and our MONEY (cause really that IS the heart of this matter)by perpetuating the same violence and ideology that we are claiming to be fighting against? If that is the case, then I hereby denounce my citizenship of these(un)United States of American and I am on the first plane to Canada.

    Comment by zengoddessjen — May 21, 2009 @ 7:21 pm

  3. Excellent well written post, I’ve come to expect nothing else from you. I like Ruprecht have always taught my daughter never to start a fight but if confronted she is to protect herself. Luckily we have never ever been faced with that situation, yet. Oh, and I’m not a fan of Dickie Boy at all.period.

    Comment by topsurf — May 21, 2009 @ 7:22 pm

  4. (I thought I posted this a few days ago, but it was still minimized in my task bar. Oops!)

    I grew up in a home where anything not up to the unrealistic (and non-verbalized) standard of my stepfather begot violence. Growing up with violence so near and constant turned me into a violent person: emotionally and physically. I wasn’t a school bully, I didn’t go around looking for fights … but my boyfriend would get hit if he was within hitting range when he scared or angered me. I wasn’t proud of it, but I had not yet learned to control the immediate “strike out” reaction.

    I did learn to control the physical violence by the time I was married and pregnant. It hadn’t all disappeared, but I knew how to walk away. The emotional/verbal violence was harder to control, understand, and un-learn. I am still emotionally explosive: I anger easily, and verbalize that anger. I am not, however, abusive with that anger.

    I cringe when I think of the way our nation has become the class bully. It has bothered me for years. There are times when I defend our going to war in the first places (based on what I knew, I believe we needed to be there) cannot defend our “reasons” for being there now … we should have began to pull out years ago, and we should be just maintaining instead of bullying.

    I do not understand of bullying, ever. Our nation was once revered for its strength and togetherness, its united front against bullying. How did we become the bullies? And, watching our economy decline, our nation fall apart … haven’t we learned, yet, that bullying begets nothing but turmoil?

    I have high hopes for this nation, the one I live in, love, and continue to have faith in … I have high hopes because I know deep down, we are a good nation … and we can help people and nations around the world. I know it takes new ways of thinking to change the cycle, and I am hoping our current President will use his strength, influence, and ideas to bring us back on the path of good … because right now we’re flying headlong towards the path of evil.

    Comment by Devyl — May 23, 2009 @ 6:44 pm

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