Monday, March 14, 2011

Should the strong protect the weak?

     I suppose like most of us I have an opinion on this issue. The question goes beyond the simple "good Samaritan" situation and extends into regional, national and international matters.
     I believe that most folks would agree that in a one-on-one situation as when we witness child-abuse or attempted assault or bullying that we have an obligation to intervene. Could that intervention place us in danger? Absolutely. This fact makes the decision not only one of moral conscience but also of self-preservation. We are conditioned to avoid dangerous situations, but most of us are instructed from youth to assist our fellow man. Many of us are troubled by the question "Why do the innocent suffer?". That question becomes even more salient when suffering occurs because we have failed to intervene.
     In the international sense, one might argue that we have so many problems at home that we simply don't need to add to the mix the problems of others. Another argument might be that conflicts in other countries are often complex and that there are problems inherent in trying to make decisions about who is right and who is wrong. Who will make such judgements? You? Me?
     We elect officials whom we trust to make decisions in our stead. Sadly, we sometimes find that these elected officials lack compassion or courage.
     As to the present administration in Washington, we find that they are lacking. But what is it exactly that they are lacking? Certainly their party has a reputation for being a compassionate entity. If they possess compassion, then they must lack courage. If they are courageous, then they must lack compassion. Either way, the effect is paralytic. It makes them as unwilling to do the wrong thing as to do the right thing.
     As a primarily Christian nation, we often look to the scriptures for guidance on daily matters. Strangely, the Bible is virtually silent on this issue aside from the verses concerning the "poor and the needy". To what can we turn then to give us direction in these situations? I say that we have to turn to our basic human nature, to that which separates us from the beasts. Regardless of religion, almost every man knows that it is wrong to steal, to kill, to lie. This truths are hard-wired into our collective psyche by millions of years of experience and by our unique ability to incorporate such truths into our daily lives.
     If we fail to offer to the Libyan resistance fighters even the most basic sort of support, we will have violated that part of ourselves that always informs us of the "right" thing to do. When we next ponder the question of why the innocent suffer, we can say without hesitation that they suffer in part because of us.

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