Independence works both ways
Sept. 2, 2013
by Ivan Raconteur

I don’t always approve of everything the people in my neighborhood do.

There are times when I find their actions downright irritating. But, as long as they don’t interfere too much with me, I won’t interfere with them.

This is part of living in a community. If we expect to enjoy a level of freedom and independence, we must be prepared to extend the same courtesy to others.

The same is true on an international scale.

One wonders what the cats who founded this country would think of us today.

At the core of this nation’s existence is a fierce determination to preserve our independence.

We don’t like anyone telling us what to do, and we will kick the stuffing out of anyone who tries to do so.

This independent spirit is part of the fabric of our being.

And yet, somewhere along the way, we got confused.

We brazenly proclaimed our right to be independent, but somehow we got the idea that it was OK for us to tell other people (and nations) what to do and how to live.

We spoke in lofty terms of independence, but we began interfering in other people’s affairs.

Lately, it seems like Uncle Sam is poking his red, white, and blue schnoz into everyone else’s business.

Politicians will use any excuse to try to justify American involvement in other people’s problems, and if the facts don’t justify the action, they just manufacture their own facts.

Now, it appears we are drifting toward some sort of military intervention in Syria.

One wonders how many Americans could even find Syria on a map, much less care what goes on there. Do we really want to risk American lives or expend our resources there?

Some might say we have more than enough trouble at home, and don’t need to go looking for trouble in someone else’s backyard.

If we aren’t careful, we will be accused of hubris or even hypocrisy if we continue to preach about independence while trying to control every other country on the face of the planet.

Being big and powerful doesn’t give us the right to bully everyone else.

Politicians talk about defending our national security interests.

Well, if I go into some guy’s backyard and poke him on the beezer, and he turns around and slugs me in the gut, I can’t very well justify pounding him in the name of self-defense, since I was the one who started the thing. However, that isn’t too different from the way our foreign policy seems to work sometimes.

We make up our own rules for what we consider acceptable behavior, and then, if another nation or regime violates our rules, we consider this justification to attack them.

Some critics might suggest that is just bullying on an international scale.

We have spent countless dollars and too many American lives in dubious battles around the globe, and it isn’t exactly clear what we have accomplished.

It doesn’t seem to have made us more popular.

One might question whether it has made the world safer or more stable.

We can’t afford to police the world, nor should we.

We demand that we be left alone to make our own decisions and our own mistakes. Why should other countries expect any less?

We may not like some things that go on in other countries, but maybe it’s time for us to mind our own business for a change.

If other countries are torn by competing factions and plunge into civil war, maybe we should just let them get on with it, instead of interfering in other countries and picking winners and losers in their internal conflicts.

When problems develop in other parts of the world, our politicians often say the actions of other nations are an affront to the international community.

However, if we aren’t able to gain the support of the United Nations, or even our allies, we seem perfectly willing to take unilateral action.

We claim we are doing what we do for the benefit of our neighbors – even if they don’t want us to do it.

Instead of rushing helter-skelter into every trouble spot in the world and throwing our weight around, maybe we should just chill out for awhile and concentrate on solving the problems we face here at home.

The politicians say military action is unavoidable, and we must use force to save face and maintain our credibility.

Cynical observers, on the other hand, might conclude military action is absolutely avoidable. They might suggest we can, and should avoid it until every other option has been exhausted, or at least until we have a crystal clear understanding of what we are trying to accomplish and what the consequences of our actions might be.

And, as far as saving face and maintaining credibility are concerned, respect must be earned. Whether it is on a playground, in a community, or on the world stage, people don’t respect bullies. They might fear them, or temporarily try to appease them, but they never respect them.

If we are going to preach the virtues of independence, maybe it’s time to give other countries their independence, as well, whether we agree with them or not.

There may be something to be said for leading by example, rather than by force.

If we are serious about solving problems, there are plenty of opportunities right here in the good old USA, so maybe we should start with those.

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