Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What They Should Do

Has anyone but me noticed that the people who seem most distressed over the possibility that the religious element will insert itself into the future government of Egypt are the very same ones most determined to insert religion into our own government?  I’m just asking.  For people who do not subscribe to any of the various creeds or sects or cults, there isn’t a hap’orth of difference between the rule of one and the rule of another. 

If what is happening in Egypt were happening here, what a different attitude would be found among us!  There are people who are quite fervent in their support of the mob’s dictum that Mubarak must go who will look back to the events of Kent  State in the ‘70s, for instance, and believe that those children who were killed by the Guard had it coming.  It IS a mob there; the term ‘mob’ does not apply only to those with whom we disagree.  I personally believe the Egyptian mob is on the right side of the issues for the most part, and I believe that Mubarak has been running an increasingly repressive and tyrannical government.  I also believe that we in America have been very glad to have him there, and have had him take care of a tremendous amount of dirty work that we don’t wish to be seen doing ourselves.  We have been rather like Pontius Pilate in this, turning over troublemakers to someone else to handle, knowing full well that we are, in fact, sentencing them to death or torture. 

I am somewhat of an admirer of Pilate, actually.  He was an adept politician who knew better than to embroil himself in local issues whose outcome either way could do him no good.  At some point in life, everyone of any intelligence asks Pilate’s famous question, “What is truth?”  And I suspect that the majority does not want in the least to actually know the answer unless it is framed in a way that supports its pre-existing beliefs.  The thing about truth is that, by its nature, it is the same no matter who is asking.   

In this sense, the same is true of human or constitutional rights.  If they don’t apply to everyone, then they aren’t really rights.  It is not unreasonable to argue that one thing or another is not a right, but if one declares something a right, then it applies to everyone.  

Nothing is easier than to feel that something which does not apply to me is less important or urgent or real than something that does.  How often does one hear, or think, “They ought to do something about that,” when some injustice or need is mentioned.  If THEY should, then I am pretty sure you and I should.  There is no virtue whatever in sitting on one’s ass feeling indignant about things, although I hasten to add that I do it all the time.  How easy it is to feel good because one’s heart is in the right place, even when one’s hands are not.  So many people’s heart is in the right place in so many situations so much of the time that one is tempted to question the theory that an object can only occupy one space at on point in time.  Our hearts must be expert multi-taskers!  How fashionable we all must be!


  1. Well stated, David.

    Here in Iowa, those of us who oppose the narrow-minded, repressive legislators who set forth the HJR6 proposal to repeal the legality of same-sex marriage have faced many of the concerns about which you wrote. Although I am not gay, I support the efforts of our gay citizens to make certain their rights and those of their family members are secured--for always. When legislation singles out one group of citizens and says,"You are not entitled to such-and-such because God says so," I bristle, for that statement represents discrimination of the most malign kind. More frightening still is the assiduousness with which proponents of such discrimination defend their stance, citing biblical scripture as justification.

    Worse still is the fact that there are those who disagree with the statement above, yet say and do nothing because they are not gay, have no gay family members or friends. As you wrote, it doesn't affect them personally.

    I don't know if I am right in feeling we're all ultimately responsible for each other, David. It seems we have so many opportuities to hand over responsibility and accountability for our thoughts and actions every day, and many of us often do, just to keep our lives a little less complicated.

    I've come to feel that it's not always a bad thing to do, if one's personal mental health is at stake, but at some point good conscience must prevail in the face of perochial thinking disguised as truth.

    When we witness human beings described as flawed, based upon criteria which are not consistent for everybody, then we must speak out against such practices. Such treatment is wrong for those being singled out, as it is just as wrong for all of us in the human community.

  2. David, I'm replying to your note on my page. My return is very, very complicated and I have an accountant. But, I'm the one that still has to have it all in order and that doesn't happen until paperwork comes in to me in until the end of January and through the middle of February, and then the fun begins. So,as I remember the days of much easier returns, this is not the case anymore. I am fairly drowned by papers and on the phone much of the day. It is what it is.

  3. Your post made me think of two things George Orwell wrote that I read when I was a wee lad:

    "All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome."


    "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."

    George Orwell

  4. @Marge – I kind of think that the Bible DOES, in places, condemn the gay thing – one of the many reasons I have no use whatever for it – even the David and Jonathan part. I don’t give crap one about marriage – I think it is a religious institution and as such is hostage to the worst excesses of hatred of which such institutions are capable – which is rather a lot. What I do think is that there is a legal union to which any coupling should have access, and that this should be as free from bigotry as speech laws or anything else. The law should require all couples who wish to be regarded as legally joined to sign a legal contract of union, and whether or not some magic is also done by the various shamans should be beside the point. I believe that those who stand silent, or worse, those who say, “They mean well,” are the worst of the worst. There is no greater crime or sin in my book than to attack the defenseless, whatever real or imagined sin they may have committed. I am quite ruthless in my pleasure, however when one of these guardians of public morality gets caught with his or hand in a cookie jar or a crotch where it shouldn’t be found. In Saudi, the most feared authorities were members of the Committee for Public Virtue and Suppression of Vice. These men differed not by so much as a hair from any of our local versions of such guardians, although to hear our lot tell it, they differ in every way. Those who do nothing in the face of cruelty are the underbrush in which the foxes find shelter.
    @JennyD – I may not feel your pain, but you are welcome to share my great pleasure that it is yours not mine. Oh what a tangled tax form we weave when first we practice to live atypically! Well, enjoy Feb and March – what else is there to do, anyway?
    @Laoch – That’s two more thoughts than I can usually evoke. I had not heard the first thought, although I have heard the second. The first thought is often encapsulated in some form of “this time is different.” This time the enemy is different; these days are more dangerous. Actually, the truth is usually that this time is the time that I am the one being inconvenienced, or who is afraid.

  5. We are they. That scares the shit outta me since I ain't doin' NUTTIN' but sittin' on my butt worrying about all of it. At least until I go all "Scarlet O'Hara" and decide to worry about it tomorrow. *sigh*