Sunday, April 26, 2009

In Search of...some common sense in a crazy world

It's Sunday, which means it's politics day here at blog central, and though I started early by suggesting possible replacements for Texas in yesterday's blog, I got to thinking that I may have acted a bit hastily. I say this not because I am a fan of Governor Perry, or of rodeos, or of executing people in general, but because Texas has given us artists like The Dixie Chicks, Cyd Charisse, and Janis Joplin, not to mention Kelly Clarkson, Carol Burnett, and Jamie Foxx. Plus there's Austin, live music capitol of the world, and that's in Texas.

On the other hand, Texas has also given us Clyde Barrow, John Hinkley, and David clearly this is a mixed bag and might take some further deliberation.

On to other topics. Today George Stephanopoulos aired an interview he conducted in Iran this past week with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I thought George did a stellar job of asking the tough questions about Iran's relationship with the U.S., his personal denial of the Holocaust, and determination to end the Israeli state. The Iranian president, in return, was eight kinds of crazy in his responses about Israel and the holocaust, but not quite so crazy in terms of the possibility of relations with the U.S.

It seems to me that we here in the U.S. suffer from a form of ADD as a nation, and we'd like everyone to forgive and forget our past transgressions just because we have a new president and it's a new day. It would be great if that were the case, but even we ourselves are having a hard time forgiving the former administration for their sins, so I think we need to cut other countries a little slack if we're initially met with some trepidation and speculation on their part about the sincerity of our motives...

...which brings me to torture and accountability. So there I sat, listening to the round table debate over the ramifications, both present and future, and both legally and politically, of going after people in the Bush administration who officially prescribed and condoned this "information gathering" technique. Whom do you hold accountable? And just how accountable is accountable enough?

Oh people, please. There are a lot of gray areas in politics, but at some point common sense has to come into play and we need to say it like it is. Everyone knew we were torturing people. Hell, I knew it, didn't you? Everyone from the President and Vice President of the United States on down the line and including Congress knew. And whether or not it worked, or just what kind of torture techniques were employed is like splitting hairs. It was illegal, immoral, and unconscionable. Not only that, it was just plain wrong. And if we'd really like to show the world how great our democracy is, then we should see that we never torture again, and we should start by prosecuting those who crafted the means by which to do it in the first place.

I realize that this opens a whole can of worms for President Obama, whose plate is already more than full, not to mention Congress. But is that how we now determine what we do - by how difficult it is, or by how much trouble we think it will cause? Or because it could change the outcome of the next election? Isn't there some point at which we say, "This is right, and this is wrong, and when you do something wrong there is a consequence?" Don't the rest of us have to live our lives by that? Isn't that what we teach children?

I am not unaware of the subtle nuances, the fluctuations in the yardsticks by which we measure what we consider to be acceptable or unacceptable behavior, but I think that this is a pivotal moment in history, and our character as a nation will be judged by our ability to make the choices that are right and not just convenient. The answer to our most perplexing questions is usually the simple one...but it is rarely the easy one.

It takes a great deal of courage for a superpower to hold up a mirror to itself and be honest about what it sees in the reflection. But I think we have that kind of courage. I think we can inspire a more peaceful world if we can look each other in the eye and say, "I will treat you the way I want to be treated." I think we will live on a better planet when each of us uses the common sense we were born with to determine our actions instead of how much we can get away with. It's some food for thought, anyway.

Have a great Sunday everyone. Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

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