The Truth Of A Nuanced Position

Sky Walker

The Taliban beheaded two children today, or maybe it was yesterday. Truth is I don’t care when it happened because either way it sickens and infuriates me.

It reminds me of a Mark Steyn quote I used years ago:

“In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of “suttee” – the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Gen. Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural:

“You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks, and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

I think about these things and my role as a father to kids who will enter the 4th and 7th grades this August. I think about these things because I watch what our government does and listen to what Edward Snowden the NSA Whistleblower did and why and try to decide how I feel about it all.

Some things in life are black and white to me and some are touched by nuances that make some actions seem reasonable to me.

Judge and Jury

I don’t have any nuance to to give or grant to the Taliban. If you cut off the heads of children I don’t spent much time thinking about whether you receive a visit from some Hellfire missiles delivered by a drone pilot ten thousand miles away.

But I look at what the government does to protect us and ask myself what lines are black and white and what aren’t. Twenty five years ago I would have been outraged by all of this and wanted to march on Washington.

Twenty five years ago I would have been infuriated and now I am…not.

Now I am very concerned and wondering if my moral compass has been broken or skewed. Do I look at things differently because I have children protect?

Yes, I do.

I don’t doubt that there are people who wish to kill us and who are indiscriminate in the method and means. You won’t ever convince me that flying planes into buildings is reasonable or that there is a reason why I should give them a pass.

The guys who butchered the British soldier don’t receive a pass either.

Barbarism Versus Civility

I am not antigun. I lived through the Northridge Earthquake and the L.A. Riots. I don’t have a problem with owning a firearm to protect your family but I don’t see a reason to own 5,000 rounds or body armor.

I don’t buy NRA arguments that trained civilians will automatically stop some of the people who have been going on the rampage. Some of them have already proven they never cared whether they lived.

Training doesn’t prevent accidental shootings. Ask the parents of the girl who was shot by police a few weeks ago, they were trying to rescue her.

Again. I am not not against owning a gun, but there is a level of nuance that seems to disappear in the discussions.

Nor am I the guy who will give people a pass solely because of religion, tradition or culture. They just murdered some women for being witches. I would be willing to prosecute the crowd just as I would prosecute the animals who beheaded the 10 and 16 year-old boys who were beheaded.

Yeah, I used the word animal.

Parenting In The 21st Century

I teach the children to judge people based upon their actions and not the color of their skin or religious beliefs. Yet the nuances of these positions sometimes make me wonder.

How do I judge Snowden. Do I automatically call him a patriot or a traitor.

What sort of tools am I willing to give to the government to help protect us. There is a slippery slope here.

Boston won’t be the last terrorist attack here. Someone else will try again and sooner or later they will be successful.

We know that there have been other attempts since 9/11 and that we have been lucky to an extent but that runs out. Someone who wants to to hurt, maim and kill will do it and we’ll wonder about it.

When my almost 9 year-old asks me if I would be willing to kill someone who was trying to kill her or her brother I always respond by telling her I will do whatever I have to do to keep them safe.

She needs to sleep at night and I am comfortable with making her comfortable but in the quiet of the night I sometimes ask myself about these nuanced positions.

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10 Comments

  1. Joe June 11, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    I’ve been dwelling on these subjects for days. I want to write about them but they’re not easy to discuss in the context of Kellie’s World. Maybe it’s time for a new blog.

  2. Sebastian Aiden Daniels June 11, 2013 at 9:09 am

    I use to get uncomfortable when my dad would say he wouldn’t hesitate to kill someone who was trying to kill our family, but now I understand why. As I have grown older, only 23, I have become aware of how mean and cruel the world can be. Cutting off the head of an innocent child is despicable. The world is a confusing place man. I try not to think of it too much because it makes me depressed and feel helpless. Ignorance is bliss.

    I try to just to be a good person and nice to everyone who I come across in my life.

  3. Stan Faryna June 11, 2013 at 4:12 am

    The legacy of corruption, injustice and diminishing civil liberties that we shall give to our children and future generations is a terrible monster.

  4. Stan Faryna June 11, 2013 at 4:01 am

    The human potential for good and evil cannot be managed as easily as our enlightened expectations presume. The Rule of Law, science, prudence, hope and , yes, compassion is ever tested. Technology serves opportunity, innovation, connection, and community as easily as it serves tyranny, oppression, exploitation and sin.

    The betrayal of public trust, the common good or the dignity of the person by government is the most dangerous act of sedition and treason. Against the people – of course. I may be mistaken, but I believe the American Revolution was sparked by complaints and concerns that do not compare to our present situation. Ours is, arguably, more problematic and contentious.

    That does not mean I call for a revolution. And for several reasons. Among them is hope (real or imagined), my enjoyment of what conveniences that I do, infact, enjoy AND my confidence in my own ability to adapt, survive and thrive. Few of which are noble reasons – especially in the face of mounting corruption, injustice and outrageous ambition.

    Nuance can be a dangerous bedfellow – if it appeals to our personal ease and false consciousness. And there is nothing easier than complicity – as I am reminded when I visit The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The Holocaust, as most of us know, was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder…

    As the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us, the U.S is not immune from such evil, state-sponsored discrimination happened and it was enforced by law and law enforcement agents. Recently, it has been confirmed in Congressional hearings that the IRS practices state-sponsored persecution in its practices and yet no one has gone to jail.

    It is a dumb animal that only gets spooked by state-sponsored murder of millions. And I may be such an ass. But misery is increasing at an exponential rate and that we cannot deny – if we are more good than selfish and evil.

    • Jack June 11, 2013 at 9:49 pm

      It is easy to ignore and look away from things we don’t like or completely understand. I think one of the things we need to do is take a moment to look at some of these things and try to figure out how we feel and then respond accordingly.

  5. zoe June 10, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    Things have gotten so scary now that I see with the eyes of not only an adult but a parent. My kid is much older than yours and married, happy…but I still worry…I suppose I always will–mostly because of things that make me sick (like when I first read about the kids in the Taliban beheading) or confused (the whole snowden thing since day one in the Guardian). Thanks for addressing these things…I tried to have a conversation at work today about the whole Snowden thing and no one (in a room full of professionals with masters and docterate degrees…so much for nuance) knew what I was talking about, which also scares the crap outta me.

    • Jack June 11, 2013 at 9:50 pm

      Hi Zoe,

      Inertia is hard to deal with. When people feel mostly good about their lives they don’t have interest in change. Sometimes even when they don’t feel particularly good they find it easier to just let things happen. To each their own, not something I am good at, but we all have our ways.

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