Time for change



I posted a reply recently to R. Christopher Edey's blog about the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It seems my position on the matter of terrorism was misunderstood, thus prompting the writing of this post.

First and foremost, nowhere in my reply does it state that I do not support the bombing of other countries. I merely asked a question to the author and compared his later remarks to US president GW Bush. Truth be told, I rather strongly support the use of armed force.

And despite what my remarks were taken to represent, we are always in a position to judge. I can't do everything at once so I necessarily have to decide which action I will take, under what circumstances I will take it in, and how I will go about the enaction. In all instances, we judge.

Let's use a recent story as our example. There is a story today in cbc.ca about a Muslim cleric being banned entry back into Britain on the basis of past associations with 'terrorist' thoughts, words, actions, and teachings. The Brits think he's harmful to their nation because of his beliefs and so seek to remove him from their land. Is this not a more peaceful act than, say, putting him in jail?

From your interpretation of my words, you believe I would be angered with the Brit's decision because we are unfit to judge his opinion, his stance, or his beliefs. "We should make conversation, not bombs," I'd supposedly say (while hugging a tree and a baby seal). Not at all.

As with the Japanese military efforts in the Second World War, the so-called 'terrorist' attempts today conflict with the societal goals and standards of life that we come to value in the West. No more, no less. Did innocent civilians deserve to have their lives taken because the members of the Manhattan Project deemed it to be a calculated risk associated with ending the war? No. Did the texture of the globe- on both an environmental and a societal level- deserve to be forever changed because of the Bomb? No. But was it necessary? Now, that's different.

The unleashed bomb was so unquestionably powerful that it terrified the enemy forces into (almost) immediate submission. Two conflicting groups of people could not come to a peaceful resolution of problems and so entered into global warfare. When one side- it doesn't matter which- decides first to engage in violence, the other must necessarily follow suit. And in a physical battle, one side must always win at the cost of the other; it is a zero-sum game.

Vile aggression, barbarity and ruin? In our standards, yes. It is our right to make that judgement. Does our judgement supersede theirs (who, it can be assumed, do not think themselves vilely aggressive, barbarous, and ruining civilization)? Not in the slightest.

But still the fact remains: violence or the threat of violence is a reality both sides are accustomed to. And in that race there can be only one victor.

The Muslim cleric, if judged as he has been, should be sentenced to death under British law. Not because we believe he's wrong but because he conflicts with and seeks to supplant what we believe is right. If the two sides could co-exist, either peacefully or through distance, this wouldn't be a problem. That sadly isn't the case.

So now, as R. Christopher Edey rightly suggests, we must decide only if we want to keep or lost our current system of values. Thankfully the history of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has reduced the limits both sides are willing to take in order to achieve their mutually separate and conflicting goals.


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