Led by rulers blind to justice and deaf to history, arrogant and self-righteous, anxious for fame, indifferent to violence and willfully ignorant, a selfish and malleable American people, aroused by fear and steeped in obedience, sent their uniformed and armed sons and daughters into a strange and ancient land to conquer and root out its political leaders, defeat its forces, and remake that distant and foreign nation in its own image. Unfamiliar names like Mosul and Fallujah, crossed and re-crossed by the peoples of ancient civilizations for thousands of years before Americans birthed a nation and empire, became bloody headlines of mass destruction, death, desolation, and disruption.
Five years later, the shame of a nation, the invasion of a foreign Muslim land with massive injury and death brought to its people by this supposedly Christian nation, still multiplies its evil and continues the campaign of interference, domination, and suffering begun decades ago. History will record no shining victory here, but a long-running episode in which a mighty empire, like its brutal predecessors, wasted its blood and treasure in injustice, futility, and ineptitude.
We are guilty of a very great and ongoing evil. When will we not only end this very great evil but also extinguish its sources? Do we ask if we will repeat these deeds next year or five years from now? Do we even wonder what other strange and unfamiliar places and peoples we will invade or re-invade? Do we wonder what themes and stories we will then conjure up as justifications so that we may sleep the peaceful sleep of the innocent?
We have arranged our comfortable and painless lives so that, out of our sight and without being whipped and brutalized, we effortlessly pay for a massive machinery of blood operated by an immense political power that we have inherited, built up, maintained, blessed, and anointed. That machinery and what it does and is doing is who we are. That machinery embodies our evil, and it is a very great evil.
It is an evil waiting to be undone and overcome. Will we be the people to undo and overcome it? Maybe not. Time is short. Our disintegration runs on and on, unstoppably, on an unending track. Our leaders persuade us that we are racing to the top. We are racing to the bottom. The contempt for human life exhibited by us and our leaders rises. It shows no sign of diminishing.
Our rulers manipulate us into the worship of power and the machinery of war. We pay for our own destruction. Our war department and those of other nations are already building terrifying robot machinery that will develop itself under the programmed instruction of its masters. The bloodthirsty tyrants among us, left unchecked, will raise warfare to ever higher levels. What will they do but employ such a phalanx of robots domestically against us or those targeted as enemies of the people? Who will escape being a target? Oppression and domination are the life-blood of tyrants.
Empire abroad and oppression at home, in all its forms, are brothers under the skin, mutually reinforcing. We have empire abroad because we have domestic oppression, and we will have domestic oppression as long as we have empire abroad.
The quadrennial spectacles of presidential politics change faces. They do not change the organizations of power and blood that run America. Will we change them? Possibly, but maybe not. A democracy is a hydra. How does one change it? Where is the tyrant? He is everywhere. He is inside us. We must cut down the tyrant inside each of us.
We are not radical enough. We are too self-satisfied. We are not rebellious enough. We are bound up in invisible wires. We are indoctrinated. We fear too much, and in that fear is our slavery.
Whence cometh change? The spirit of peace hovers over and around all of us. The air carries its unaccustomed words to our ears. We hear them not, or ignore them. The light carries its messages to our eyes. We read them not, or ignore them. These are very great evils.
We have kneeled so long before our national altar that we can no longer arise and topple it. It is an idol with a huge mouth that symbolizes devouring. We worship and devour ourselves. We bow before this idol, which is a dehumanized and depersonified vision and version of ourselves. This is a very great evil.
Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York.