Let’s do a little exercise together. For this exercise, we will perform some visualizations. First, I’m going to ask you to step outside of yourself, your American-ness, your cultural identity as an Estadounidense (unless of course you are not from the United States, in which case, you are already outside of such an is-ness, and can immediately proceed to step 2, which is as follows): Think of the United States as if you had no personal attachment or cultural fondness for its sports teams, its Christian fundamentalism, its Hollywood icons, its myriad consumer products, its McDonalds, its Starbucks–none of these. Now, standing outside of the United States, looking at it apart from all of its sprawling, ravenous conglomeration of consumers and consumees, tell me what you might think of this fact: The United States of America is the only nation in the history of mankind to have actually utilized weapons of mass destruction AGAINST OTHER HUMAN BEINGS. Now remember, you are standing outside of your Americanness, outside of Pearl Harbor and whatever racist or patriotic and cultural and political and historical reasons you might dig up to explicate the usage of said atom bombs. You looking at the simple fact, the piece of data, the raw information that the United States has dropped 2 bombs that harnesses the energy of the sun in an immediately explosive and long-lastingly radioactive manner onto a major city in another country. We’re talking a product of science manufactured explicitly for the murder of the largest amount of living creatures possible. We’re talking a conscious intention to eliminate mass amounts of human beings, to consciously inflict a tremendous amount of suffering onto another peoples. We’re not talking collateral damage, precision bombing, unfortunate casualties of war here. We’re talking families, dogs, fish, butterflies, birds, trees, buildings, whole histories and existences purposefully decimated, obliterated, scalded, maimed eternally–because no city, no people, no nation, no world could ever forget such an act committed.
Ok, now think of the fact that North Korea just tested a nuclear weapon. And now ask yourself: if I were a smaller country that has been directly labeled as “evil” by the United States of America, wouldn’t I want a nuclear weapon, even if it was just 1 or 2 vs the 10,000 that the US harbors, even if only as a negotiating piece, a shield, a dark assurance that at least maybe the US would think twice before invading or decimating my population?
Seems entirely reasonable, now, doesn’t it?
It’s an interesting exercise, to step outside of your given identity for a minute, and think of how an “outsider”, an “other” may perceive you. Because we have been trained since day one never to consider such perceptions. And so normally, we may not even bat an eye when our government chooses to murder other peoples, not so long as we can pretend that it is an act of self-defense, even if only “preemptive.”
I’m a little fed up with the tendency of many Americans, whether liberal or conservative or trailer park raised or silver spoon fed to purposefully close themselves off to anything that might challenge their well-being and comfort. It’s easier, sometimes, to simply create an enemy that embodies all evil, so that instead of questioning yourself, you attack, attack, attack. Progress, movement forward.
I don’t think that the United States, whether as a political and military body, or as a cultural institution, or as a consumer of resources, is evil. I also don’t think North Korea is evil. I think that maybe there’s a little evil everywhere, whether in your own heart, your own home, or in your nation or corporation or globe. And the only way this evil will ever come to light is through a constant looking inward, at yourself, at your intentions, at how you may be perceived by others. Scandals like Enron or Duke Cunningham or whatever the latest Washington downfall may be are examples of men who have chosen to only look outward, blinding themselves to their own loss of integrity.
While North Korea is testing nukes, our own people are going into schools and shooting themselves and each other. Which of these is the most threatening to our existence? I’m not really sure, but all I know is that it is a lot easier to cast North Korea as evil, a country and culture you most likely know zilch about beyond Team America‘s portrayal of Kim Jong Il, then to look at the more complex and opaque issue of disturbed and dangerous Americans with guns.
So what should we do? Trumpet the horns, ride out into the East with guns drawn and hearts high, ready and willing to eradicate all Evil and spread the gospel seed of capitalism? Or maybe its time, as a people, as a nation, that we took a time-out, and took a closer look at who we are, and what we have become.