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Monday, March 13, 2006

The Case For Commitment

Ask any therapist and they will tell you a truth: The biggest impediment to happiness is doubt- self doubt, to be particular.

Once a problem is recognized and understood for what it is, the resolution to that problem becomes clearly evident. When overcoming that obstacle becomes a complicated and convoluted affair, that is a pretty good indication that self doubt has entered into the equation.

An editorial in today's Wall Street Journal made an interesting observation: No one now disputes that stopping Slobodan Milosovic was the right thing to do. “As Serbian leader after 1989, Milosevic unleashed the ethnic furies that sparked the bloodiest conflicts in Europe since World War II. Yugoslavia was the West's great failure for most of the 1990s. "This is the hour of Europe," proclaimed Luxembourg's foreign minister, Jacques Poos, in 1991 when the Croats and Serbs came to blows. Yet not until after Srebrenica and its 7,000 dead men and boys in 1995 did the U.S. step in and lead an ineffective Europe to stop the fighting.” The world was justifiably outraged at the terror of Milosovic.

Apparently, there was far less outrage at the far greater terror of Saddam Hussein- so much less outrage, in fact, that there are people who believe that notwithstanding the WMD's, we should have left Saddam in place to further terrorize and slaughter those whom he opposed. This irony is not lost- these are many of the same people who don't give a damn about the genocide in Darfur and atrocities elsewhere. In fact, may of those who would support Saddam are now cheering at death of American soldiers in Iraq.

They cannot be bothered however, at the deaths of ordinary Iraqis, targeted by insurgents. Why? Because despite the ferocious efforts of the MSM, the truth that the vast majority of Iraqis were happy- and remain happy- to be liberated from the iron and deadly grip of of Saddam Hussein, cannot be hidden or denied. That puts them in direct opposition of those with an agenda, in opposition to those who would decry the legitimacy of Mr Bush's foreign policy- and for that, those average Iraqis will be ignored and used.

The establishment of a democracy in Iraq is less important to the left than the efforts to legitimize George W Bush. It is history repeating itself. Over a century ago, there were those democrats, for who abolishing slavery was less important than 'getting' Abraham Lincoln.

The efforts to deliberately obfuscate and distort the necessity and the importance of the war in Iraq has taken it's toll. There are those who find themselves having to defend what is right and moral. They have allowed those who oppose what is right and moral, for no other reason than they wish to impose a particular political agenda, to dictate the discussion.

The ethics and morality that we value and cherish have been challenged in way that has us doubting ourselves. In addition to facing an enemy from without, we are now facing an enemy from within- self doubt. We are questioning our values. We are less willing to forcefully distinguish right from wrong. We are allowing ourselves to be stripped of our sureness and to be wrapped in the suffocating and restrictive blanket of self doubt.

That enemy from within, doubt, is like being fed a very unhealthy diet. Our ability to grow and remain healthy, impedes our ability to grow. The primary ingredient of that unhealthy diet is insecurity. Doubt is a tree with many branches that shade us from the sunshine of reality: Fear. Cynicism. Distrust. Complacency. Uncertainty. Ambiguity. Skepticism. Indecisiveness. Avoidance.

There is nothing that extinguishes the fire of morality and ethics than the irrational doubt and cynicism.

The critics offer nothing but criticism. The offer nothing more than vitriol. To offer more would be to have to define a morality. To offer more would be to have shake the cynicism and hypocrisy. That is why there was no outcry against removing Milosovic, a dictator who committed far fewer crimes than Saddam. That is why there is no real outcry about the genocide in Darfur. That is why the effort to eradicate FGM is barely on the radar.

It is that cynicism that has begun to affect how we look at the war in Iraq. In fact, the shade that has obscured the sunshine of reality has begun to affect us all. The tree of doubt was planted a long time ago. Insecurity and cynicism, even in matters moral, are now always questioned. Confidence in matters moral and ethical has become a rare commodity in the public arena.

Doubt and insecurity are manifested by the belief that we are really ill equipped to make a moral and ethical decisions. The instinctive self confidence that has served to distinguish right from wrong is brought into question. There are some people for whom any decision is a frightening thought. They are far removed from reality.

Doubt and insecurity are gaseous in nature. They are shapeless, odorless and colorless. We cannot know who is afflicted with the doubt and insecurity, until they let us know- and even then, there those who spend a lifetime hiding their afflictions, much in the way an illiterate person can camouflage their disability. Some people hide their insecurities by immersing themselves in work or sports, or a cause they become passionate about.

That kind of overcompensation becomes the camouflage in which indecision resides. We can a multitude of reasons not to commit or not to act. We want to perceive ourselves as contemplative- but of course, that really isn't the case. We are justifying our frozenness, our inability to commit to what we know is right. We worry about 'what others will say.'

All of us have to face doubts. We also have to deal with them and not become paralyzed by them. We cannot allow our vision, morality, clarity and confidence to be obscured by that doubt. While there may always be voices of doubt in the background, we have to be able to distinguish for ourselves that what is moral and ethical, no matter how dressed or pretty are the alternatives.

Self doubt is fueled by insecurity. Self doubt breeds more self doubt. Conversely, sureness of self and purpose will breed more sureness of self and purpose. It is the sureness of self and purpose that has fueled man's great achievements. Moral ambiguity and moral relativism will leave no more a positive impact than did communism.

There is such a thing as right and wrong, irrespective of religion, creed or culture- and no amount of carefully constructed doubt, crafted in the name of a political ideology, can change that reality.