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The Evil and the Evil

Thinking only globally makes you hate your neighbors.

By Petrarch  |  January 30, 2019

Your humble correspondent, trawling the depths of the Internet, encountered a discussion chat in which a European citizen was asking Americans for an explanation of our current goings-on.  Every nation has political disputes, said he, and European nations even go without a functioning governmental leadership on occasion, but the actual government bureaucracy never shuts down.  All services used by citizens carry on regardless.

How, he asked, is it possible for a large chunk of America's government to literally shut down, as in the employees going home for weeks on end - and unpaid, at that!

One respondent provided a compelling and thought-provoking answer:  It is because large numbers of ordinary people on both sides of our political divide honestly believe that large numbers of people on the opposite side are literally evil and actively engaged in intentionally destroying the country.  If you believe this, what price is too high to potentially stop them?

Well, when you put it that way, our current politics makes a lot more sense.  But when you sit down and think it through, it makes even more sense... because both sides are correct.

Worlds Apart

Consider the ongoing fight over the Wall. It is indisputably true that many countries in Latin America are among the world's most crime-infested and dangerous places to live.  Every day, people are murdered, raped, tortured, and abused, and that's not even mentioning the suffering due to poverty, malnutrition, lack of health care, and so on.

Thanks be to God, America suffers from none of these problems, at least not to anything like the same degree. If the innocent families murdered in El Salvador by MS-13 were allowed to come here, they wouldn't be murdered, now would they?

But our government won't let them come legally; they must sneak hundreds or thousands of miles through hostile territory, abused by criminals and threatened with dehydration in the desert.  Many never make it; hundreds of bodies are found along our border every year.  If we instead welcomed them with open arms, they wouldn't be dead, now would they?

America, the occasional 1/1024 American Indian aside, is a nation not merely of immigrants, but of people who arrived with little more than the clothes on their backs.  Mr. Trump, and his supporters even more so, want to pull up the drawbridge and restrict entry to those who can afford to fly over it.  Isn't this a major historic change that fundamentally alters the nature of our country?

Our country fought a war to end slavery - often termed as "involuntary servitude."  What sort of morality would use the power of law to force over half our population into direct personal, physical servitude against their will for nine months, followed by another two decades of heavy legal obligations of service to another?  Isn't it evil by definition to strip from women the right to make fundamental life decisions over their own bodies?

The Mirror Image

There is, of course, another perspective.  Much of Latin America is a horrible place to live, true, but so is much of the rest of the world.  What special sufferings do El Salvadorans endure that's different from citizens of Syria, Sudan, and Somalia, to cite only one letter?  Is it just that they're farther away?  What moral difference does that make?

Yet if we allow everyone to come into this country who would like to, it won't be the same country: 150 million people would come here today if they could, almost half our current population, most of whom are dirt-poor and utterly uneducated.  Granting their wish wouldn't bring them wealth, but would merely bring poverty for the rest of us as our economy, infrastructure, society, and culture collapse overnight, benefiting nobody.

Isn't that evil, to steal a country from its citizens?  This is a truth which the Left daily loves to remind us by referencing the American Indians for whom "open borders" didn't turn out very well.

But if we have to draw a line somewhere, what's wrong with drawing it exactly where it already is visible on a map?  That's the way international law has worked for centuries.  Isn't it evil to wantonly cause total upheaval of international systems which, while hardly preventing wars, have at least made them more orderly and clear-cut?

And speaking of the nature of our country, we were founded on the proposition that all men are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."  What sort of people want to take viable human beings, not convicted of any crime, and slice them to ribbons simply because their presence is inconvenient?  No opportunity for happiness, liberty, or even life for them!  Isn't that the very definition of evil?

Never The Twain Shall Meet

We could go on in this vein for pages.  No doubt our regular readers will instantly poke holes in many of the inflammatory arguments, but that's the point: each side reflexively dismisses the other side's talking points as obviously wrong and in bad faith, often for good reason.

That's why our politics doesn't work anymore: the two sides are diametrically opposed, there is no common ground anywhere, and nothing to agree on.

If abortion is brutal murder, and the lack of abortion is legalized slavery, what sort of compromise can be found from either direction?

If gun owners are would-be murderers but those who want to confiscate guns are would-be dictators and tyrants, what "common sense" compromise is possible?

The plain truth is, the world is full of evil; it can be found everywhere.  If you think about Big Things at a high enough level, just about everything bad can be blamed on someone very close to home.  Your neighbor bought a new car - isn't that evil, when there are kids starving in Ethiopia?  Oh, and that car emits gasses that will cause flooding and drown thousands in Bangladesh!

The Left likes to say, 'Think globally, act locally."  The past few decades have taught us that if you only think globally, your local actions can't help but be vile, evil, and hateful, because you'll blame your less-enlightened neighbors for not caring about Everything Bad going on everywhere in the world.

But since there will always be something bad going on somewhere, that vicious cycle of blaming your neighbors never stops.  That's why we have countries, states, counties, cities, villages, neighborhoods, streets, and families: Human beings weren't designed to care about everything all at the same time.

We can only truly care about those we can see, interact with, or at least have some perceptible relationship with; the rest of the people are just numbers or political place-holding pawns.  That's why we require our politicians to live in their districts and go back home regularly where they can actually meet their constituents, and you can meet them even when they'd rather you didn't.  That's also why our vast cities tend to be such political cesspools: there simply are too many people for anyone to think of them all as people.  In such environments, governance becomes merely a mechanical numbers game.

If you try to care about the whole world, you'll end up hating everybody close by and wanting to kill them for being evil.  This makes you evil.  Instead, the slogan needs to be "Brighten the corner where you are!"

Until we start focusing on whatever problems we find close to home, where we as individuals might actually be able to do something about them, we'll continue to fly apart.  Forget about global warming - pick up that candy wrapper!