There are several topics in the headlines today that I don’t want to talk about. Intentionally avoiding them, though, also seems wrong, and it robs me of the opportunity to try to express my particular view of the topics. As you might have noted long before now, I caveat things. This lack of apparent confidence should not be confused with a lack of caring about those topics. Zach Weinersmith in this comic from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has summed it up very concisely:
Should we get started? Shall we let’s.
ISIS/ISIL/The Islamic State/What I Fear Every Religion Might Try To Do
These are absolutely the Muslim extremists we’ve been warned about since 9/11. Did our intervention in Iraq lead to a destabilization in the region, including in Syria, leading to a power vacuum? I have no idea, I’m not an expert in international politics. Should we do everything in our power to stop the “religious cleansing” and spread of the group? I’m inclined to think so. These are people so extreme that al-Qaeda publicly denounced them. Do I want America in another long-term military conflict with hyper-religious terrorists? That’s complicated. I think it’s overall the right thing to do, but putting soldiers in harm’s way to protect civilians in other countries is a tough call. It’s easy to say “Go get ’em!” when I don’t have to write letters to the families of dead soldiers or ask for tax increases to pay for it.
It’s my understanding that it’s difficult being black in America. I’m a white male in the southeastern United States, so my understanding is obviously limited. At this point, in my eye, from almost 700 miles away, I don’t think I have enough evidence to weigh in on what lead to the shooting. The after-effect, though, has been much clearer. The police seem to have taken every opportunity to poke the hornet’s nest of the protests, and with mighty big sticks. John Oliver’s take on the matter may have a bit of an agenda, but there’s truth to the idea that when all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. De-escalation is everyone’s job of course, and I sincerely wish there wasn’t a situation in America where that statement was necessary.
If you think what’s going on there is cut and dry and that a single side is to blame, I’d probably accuse you of being too selective about your news and historical sources. Because yes, Hamas has hidden weapons in mosques, schools, and hospitals and yes, they were digging tunnels to hide even more weapons and to get to high-value targets. All that being said, though, Israel has been systemically repressing Palestine to nearly apartheid levels for a very long time. The conditions created by blocking trade (in the name of preventing weapons from entering Palestine) and by preventing people from leaving absolutely sets up conditions where people are desperate enough to do crazy things. That doesn’t make those things right, but it’s hard to argue that they’re unexpected. And Israel has absolutely been irresponsible in its application of force. The percentage of casualties that were civilians is beyond absurd for any country that’s so obviously in the dominant position.
Screw you, Putin!
We pay way too much for healthcare. Anything that makes it more obvious what we’re paying for should lead to lower costs, which is good for everyone except those currently exploiting the system. There are lots of ways to achieve this, and, if you’re really interested in how other countries manage to get better healthcare outcomes for much less than the price per person we’re paying, I suggest going to the YouTube Channel Healthcare Triage and perusing their explanations for how those systems work.
As long as we’re giving economic benefits to couples that publicly declare they will be monogamous and wish to share property rights, denying those benefits because they both have the same gender seems silly. I also think local attempts to inhibit this are unconstitutional. I can’t say anything to the religious status, that’s kind of between each person and how they choose to worship their chosen deity. But, the legal status shouldn’t be tied to the religious status. We’ve got an Amendment against that.
There isn’t really a moral issue here to me. It’s a terrible situation and the prospect of dying by profuse bleeding from everywhere sounds pretty terrible. I think bringing Americans home to treat them was the right thing to do. I was convinced we had the facilities to contain it. I think the conditions in West Africa are uniquely well-suited for propagating it and that America, in general, wouldn’t be such a fertile ground for it.
The world is a big, scary, complicated place. It’s completely possible to have a black and white view of it, but I don’t think that leads to understanding and it absolutely doesn’t lead to the kind of peace necessary for 7+ billion people to survive with one another. If you’ve never thought of your opponent as a human like you with their own morals and values, you’re wrong, even if your opponent is ISIS or Putin. And try to remember when you’re considering blocking someone over something you’ve argued over on social media that there is a constant, ever-present disparity between what you’ve experienced and what they’ve experienced, but they put their pants on one leg at a time, just like you.
Thanks for reading.