Sunday, May 22, 2005

"Do as I Say..."

In a comment on my last entry, Jackie (Pixels, Politics, Posies, & Pussycats) says: "This country has always been better at "Do as I say, not as I do..." Why?

I think it's because we give people the freedom to dream. To imagine what a "Great Society" would really be like, and inspire others to get behind them and push through changes that take us closer to that goal. However grudgingly, we hear voices like Susan B.Anthony's, Harriet Beecher Stowe's, Cesar Chavez's, Eugene Debs', Martin Luther King's; because two hundred years ago, some very gifted and inspired men made it the law of our land that our government not be allowed to silence them.

Still, we have never made it easy for the dreamers and the movers. We've jailed them, lynched them, banned their books; we've murdered them in cold blood. When, eventually, years later, their dreams become reality, we embrace them, glorify them, build monuments to them. Oh, we can become so puffed up with self-righteous pride on those rare occasions when our higher call finally triumphs over our base human tendency for violence, fear, and domination of the weak.

Now, we presume to take those few and hard-won examples of brilliance and compassion, and goose-step across the world, insisting that all other nations on earth follow our example of freedom and high respect for human rights. Or we will literally hold a gun to their heads until they do. Or worse. Meanwhile, the ideals of the Great Society continue to be attacked and eroded here at home, even by our own government. How quickly we tire of compassion for the weak, elderly, and indigent; equality for those who don’t think or look like us; freedom to express views that are not the same as our own.

Why are our international relations dominated by the dichotomy of "Do as I say, not as I do?" Because we have managed, kicking and screaming, to do a few things right over the centuries. But, typical to the human race, we now feel compelled to take those few instances of "rightness" and use them to club the rest of mankind into line behind us. Does this not sound suspiciously like the beginning of the end of all the dominant human societies that have crumbled over the millennia---Egypt, Rome, Napoleon’s France, the British Empire, the Soviet Union? Perhaps if mankind could somehow learn to truly become a great society before taking that philosophy abroad, we might meet with ultimate success rather than ultimate ruin. Based on human history, I’m not holding out too much hope.


  1. this is a beautiful entry, Lisa, and not the one I came over here looking for.  your comment on my recent entry scared me - you are starting to WANT the "nuclear option" to happen?  i hope you will post about it, if so, so i can see what is your thinking.  i respect and admire your thinking, and like to think my mind is open.  so, bring it on!

  2. Amen sister. Wonderful entry. I think that's part of the problem now. Granted we went to the moon just to beat the Russians but I think we could harness that ability to dream and imagine and use it solve a lot of our problems. Trouble is, the status quo makes the money and there's no entry on the stock exchange for dreams.


  3. It is about the dollar and what is best for American's fat cats.

  4. We do so many things wrong, but what we do right, we do so bloody damn well that it makes us think that we do everything that well.  Pride is such an easy trap, but it's also the slipperiest of slopes.

  5. In Matthew 7:3, Jesus said, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

    Seems like an appropriate foreign policy in many ways! We are convinced that other countries' problems are planks, while our own are mere specks. Hmmm.