monsters abroad

I think there are certain things in society and within humanity that are typically unacceptable. We teach kids not to hit, lie, cheat, steal, etc.. One thing we have to “teach” adults is to refrain from gossiping. We like to talk about each other. I do it all the time. My old college professor said history is what we tell ourselves about ourselves. In that sense our whole life is comprised of interactions with one another in which we are typically discussing other people. I know the Bible says many times that gossip and unwholesome talk are wrong. The point of my post today is not to assert that. Could I perhaps suggest a synonym, however, for gossip? Could we call it, or at least its affects, meddling? Maybe in your history books you remember hearing of the idea of one country meddling in the affairs of another. Either way, we know it means to get involved in something; we speak it with negative connotations… “maybe if you weren’t meddling in so and so’s business that wouldn’t have happened.” Socially I think that meddling is another one of those things that people consider unacceptable. We don’t want people in our business, they don’t want us in theirs. Now obviously I’m not talking about drug intervention or something of that sort. I’m talking about meddling in ways where one surely shouldn’t, or to which no positive outcome can be had. Can we agree this sort of meddling is wrong and intrusive?

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As I was monitoring the computer lab today, I read over a 7th grader’s shoulder his paper on gun control. Now I’m sure he was just regurgitating whatever he read on the first Google hit he found, but his first paragraph was saying how we don’t need to give “irresponsible people guns.” Who is irresponsible? Who is potentially irresponsible? Everyone? So no one can have a gun? That’s beside the point for my purposes. My point is that, because some may be irresponsible with a personal freedom, someone else can strip the people as a whole of this liberty? Most would say of course not. Most would advocate personal responsibility, public awareness, yada yada yada (Seinfeld reference).

Stay with me. So meddling is wrong, and preemptive intervention (as in the gun scenario) is also wrong? I’ll say it again that I am not talking about random, premise-busting scenarios you may come up with. I’m talking about in general. In general, we would agree that you cannot take away someone’s freedom just because they might abuse it, correct? If you disagree please tell me why.

If we’ve established those two ideas, that meddling and preemptive intervention are wrong, let’s move on and apply those ideas on a global scale. I’m not talking about freedoms and liberties guaranteed to Americans per the U.S. Constitution, I’m talking about how meddling and preemptive intervention affect the liberties of people around the globe, liberties in my opinion which are granted by God. I was watching the news again this morning and they were talking about how somewhere in Africa (I honestly can’t even remember the country) some sort of dictator or warlord recently captured several girls from a school and is selling them. To whom he is selling or what purpose I am not sure. In reference to this story the news show cut to the White House where a reporter asked the President’s Press Secretary (been watching too much West Wing), in an almost demanding tone, “does the United States plan to send aid or troops to alleviate the situation?” I thought, is this guy serious? We hear of a tragedy occurring in Africa and this guy’s first reaction is that he is willing to endanger the lives of U.S. soldiers to help end this crisis. I’m not willing to sacrifice either of my brothers in the military to help end that crisis. That doesn’t mean I don’t sympathize or wish for it to end and justice to be served, but it IS NOT the American soldier who needs to go deliver it. In doing so we would be meddling and intervening in an area which we are not directly involved, harmed, or in danger. Before anyone gets up in arms, just consider what I’ve said…it is not our issue to handle, that does not mean the issue should not be handled.

Author Laurence Vance lists several options for when a private American citizen wishes something to be done overseas…he or she may offer financial assistance, may spread the word about what is happening, may muster up public support and demand an end to the crisis, may pray for the situation, or may personally fly overseas and fight or do whatever else one feels compelled to do in order that justice be served. But this very same citizen MAY NOT demand that America, as a whole and with military force, intervene and meddle in the affairs of another country. Once again, I am not at all talking about retaliations to unprovoked terrorism or hostile attacks; I am talking about day-to-day things that happen overseas, in other parts of the world, that do not affect America, in which our citizens want our soldiers to “fix it.” People may say they want President Obama or the U.S. Government to do something, but I haven’t seen the President or Congressmen wearing camouflage any time recently. We as a society need to eliminate this mental and moral gap between our “battle cries” and the soldiers carrying them out. They are directly related.

Maybe you don’t agree with me; maybe you think that if the United States has the means to end this crisis, and maybe even can do so without injuring anyone, then the U.S. should act. Functionally then you would be advocating for U.S. intervention in any part of the world, at any time, for any worthy cause; maybe with the contingency that the operation is safe, granted. But even if the United States sticks its nose in this African crisis and ends it peacefully, who’s to say the next operation goes smoothly? Are we willing to intervene and be “peacemakers” at the expense of American blood, for causes which do not directly affect us? That is certainly a slippery-slope to say that the United States is obligated to help wherever it can. Would there ever be a point where we shouldn’t help? And if so (obviously so), who decides when we should or should not meddle or intervene? Who decides when we should endanger our soldiers for the cost of aiding a situation that does not directly affect us? In such cases, whoever it is deciding is saying that they will potentially give up one of our soldiers to save one person overseas. It’s inconsistent to say “we should intervene here but not there.” Our country needs to return once again to the anti-interventionist philosophy of Thomas Jefferson and other Framers. We must demand of our leaders that, in the words of John Quincy Adams, the United States stops “go[ing] abroad in search of monsters to destroy.”

-KF

kollin.fields@gmail.com

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