29 October 2004

Responding to Eve

Eve writes a revelatory post (on a day of vast posts!) about why she is not voting this year.

I sympathize with her reasons for not registering to vote; after all, in the State where I live there is zero doubt about the fate of my electors, even if I were to vote for John Kerry. However, as I used to tell my trainees (when I was a corporate trainer for a few years), it goes like this.

If you see that something is wrong, and you complain, but nothing happens, it's no longer your fault if things stay the same. However, if you see that something is wrong, and you do nothing, and things stay the same, it is partly your fault.

Why? Because we have a responsibility to try to change things that are wrong, fix what is broken, repair the breach, etc. etc. In Jewish culture it is referred to as Tikkun Olam, or healing the world, and it is a driving force behind Jewish social activism.

Certainly I can't take my blogmother to task, except to say that it's easy to become cynical, especially if you are given to fits (or decades, in my case) of depression. In fact, I think that depressed people sometimes see the world more clearly, more realistically, than "normal" people do. If normal people saw that the odds against them were as hopeless as they frequently are, well, let's just say that little ol' ant wouldn't think he could move that rubber tree plant. Maybe normalcy is really God's gift to keep us from seeing the daylit world in all its bleakness.

But anyway! I'm voting. I wouldn't refrain from voting, even though I have served Jury Duty five times since 1984 (including three weeks on a very scary Federal case a few years back). Considering the price that my dad paid, and that many other people braver and fitter than I have paid for my freedom, I would feel even more guilty than usual if I didn't vote.

For what it's worth, I agree that the abuses at Abu Ghraib were despicable; however, I am not certain that direct responsibility for them goes very far up the chain of command. After all, you can read about the Stanford Prison Experiment and it sounds eerily like what happened in Iraq; and the kids involved in the Experiment were relatively normal, affluent college kids who had not been subjected to thirty years of progressive p*rnification of the culture (heck, there wasn't even an HBO in those days). It's just symptomatic of our fallen world and the fallen men (and women) who populate it.

As for the jus ad bello, I have to agree with Eve (and with Bill Buckley) on this one. Given the publicly stated reasons (opinions shared by the Anglosphere and many other nations), we were right to go in. However, it now looks, in retrospect, like a huge mistake. But we all have 20/20 hindsight, and it's very easy to Monday-Morning-Quarterback both the reasons for going and the means used to prosecute the war. I think the truth of the matter won't be known for some time (like when we find Saddam's chemistry set in Syria, for instance); and frankly, wars are almost always unpopular. But that doesn't mean it isn't the right thing to do; and it certainly doesn't mean we should abandon ship.

All that said, and in light of some of the misgivings I have about President Bush, I feel I have no choice but to vote for him. No one (except possibly President Reagan) has done more to advance the pro-life cause. And the fact that he is willing to take the enormous risk of going to war shows that he has a lot of guts; and that's something I think we're going to need in the next four years.


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