Ones and Zeroes

I just left my Leadership in Africa class where we have been studying Zimbabwe. Today was the final chapter on that nation so we discussed the current crisis there at length. I find it depressing to think of the general apathy of the collective world political community. My professor listed several compelling reasons that would prohibit foreign intervention to normalize the government there. It makes me think of the unanswered question of moral obligation to our fellow man. When do the human rights of a suffering populace trump sovereignity? In the U.S.’s case it seems to be only if there is a strategic or economic imperative. What about the imperative of common humanity? When does that matter? Why Iraq and not China or Zimbabwe? What will it take for people to become committed to the idea of global prosperity instead of the gain of the few at the cost of the many?
I saw a great little film about an experiment in Democracy in China called Vote for Me. It was revealing and troubling. The 3rd graders who were competing against each other for a coveted spot as class monitor in a classroom experiment quickly reproduced the worst of the dirty tricks that seem to accompany elections. The end result? A preservation of the status quo. All this is set in the confines of a spotless classroom in a beautiful school with children who have such an inbred sense of honor that they cry en masse when their actions are exposed as unethical. It is a society which values the community over the individual. A more opposite view of our culture would be hard to find. Their system seems to promote the kind of unity and singleness of purpose that America lacks. When it is positive, you see children who respect authority and are required by law and custom to take care of their aging parents. A kind of built in reverence for the aged that is unthinkable in our do it yourself or die society. One of the best quotes I’ve heard recently, from my all time favorite morning show, Matty in the Morning in Boston via podcast, pointed out that people who think our government should be run as a business are not looking at the situation correctly. The problem with seeing the government that way is that it fails to realize that in a business we’d fire all the poor people. That’s why our system hobbles along with on a wing or prayer, because we are inculcated with the belief that the poor deserve firing, or that their troubles are all of their own making, without ever once having the objectivity to realize that they are a critical part of our collective community. That how we treat our weakest citizen’s is the true measure of the Christian virtues so many seem to believe should underly our policies. Who did Jesus champion the most? The least of us…
It is an awful dilemma, and one we never spend time on discussing. We are too busy with the minutiae of our indivdual concerns. How sad. I am not saying that China has it right. It’s obvious to all that individual liberty and basic human right protections are regularly dismissed there. But can there not be a middle path? Does everything always have to be binary?
Here’s hoping that in our lifetime we somehow move beyond that.Off to Chaplaincy class. Back with more later. I’m badly behind in journal entries for class so I will be much more post happy for a while.


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