I dreamed that I was talking to Laura Bush about the War in Iraq. With many tears, I pointed to the utter and pointless waste of lives and money. She looked at me without expression. I think sometimes about George Bush’s family, about how it must surely contain dissenters who, out of loyalty to him, remain silent. I don’t think I could do that because I would think of the lives I might save.
The funny thing is that I don’t even like people, and this means that I don’t much care about people. Say what good you will about us, we are destroying our environment, and we WILL come to a bad end, perhaps shortly, and we WILL have deserved it. This negates all the good that we have done a million times over, so no, I don’t like us. We are a cancer upon the earth. Yet, I feel certain obligations. Sometimes, good is optional. Other times, the issue is too close to home, the obligation too pressing. I cannot always tell when this is the case, so I often choose to do nothing; other times I can’t deny it.
I’m not speaking only about big things. In fact, most good things are small things. Everyday and everywhere, I see people doing little kindnesses, and I reflect that, truth be known, these are what make life bearable. It’s people letting one another out in traffic; or holding a door open, or carrying a stranger’s groceries. It’s saying hello when you make eye contact. These I do. These I feel that I must do.
Other things, like not paying taxes to support a regime that is inept and evil, I would pay dearly for, and I seriously doubt that my resistance would do any good. Yet, if I lived strictly by principal, I would not pay taxes. But then I wouldn’t fly in a jet, because jets are too polluting. I wouldn’t live in this house, because it is too big. I wouldn’t buy products from countries that exploit their workers. I wouldn’t invest in a stock unless I approved of the company’s environmental and social policies. I wouldn’t buy merchandise that came in wasteful packaging or that had to be transported from the other side of the world. In such areas, I falter. I remind myself that I am married, and that many of my choices affect Peggy. I also rationalize that doing good would require too much time, too much study, too many hard choices, and, for the most part, it would make no difference.
Yet, I know that I act unjustly, and this means that I don’t like myself much more than I like the rest of humanity. I finance war. I support the destruction of the environment. I could point out that I seldom drive, and that I am an avid recycler, but no quantity of good justifies the least amount of evil. It’s like that diesel-tainted water on Pelieu. The diesel drums had been drained and washed; but still men doubled over in pain. I am like those drums.
It is the unnecessary suffering of other people and other life forms that make our affluence possible. But when I ask myself if it a completely good world is even conceivable, I doubt that it is. I suspect that we are evil simply because we are human, and that the most we can hope for is to ever expand our capacity for good.
Before it slips my mind completely - ...I wanted to share with you that Kathy, a fairly new reader hereabouts, corrected me after I said that America's first Thanksgiving occurred at Plymouth,...