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Saturday, April 27, 2024

I understand that I am odd man out.

 There is currently an enormous amount of interest in the anti-Israel demonstrations that are taking place in various colleges and universities around the nation.  I know nothing more than what I glean from press reports, but my guess is that the demonstrations are generated by a mix of genuine concern for the plight of the Palestinians assisted by a healthy amount of outside support for the demonstrations.  The vast majority of us, irregardless of our position on the struggle between Hamas and Israel, are, or should be concerned about the adverse impact of the demonstrations on the social fabric of America.  We should understand that the vast majority of the individuals involved in the various demonstrations are driven by their emotions, stimulated by a partisan press, and absent any real, first-hand knowledge of the situation in Gaza.  I see similarities between this wave of discontent and previous manifestations of the same psychology in earlier events, each of which led to our abandonment of a people that we had, rightly or wrongly, promised to help.  I was painfully involved in the South Vietnamese instance and well remember the anti-war protestations that swept America.  I also remember the Bishop of Danang asking me “if you were not going to stay, why did you ever come?”  I contend that the people of Afghanistan could ask the same question, and I am not yet convinced that we are not going to give the Ukrainians an opportunity to ask a similar question of us.  Finally, I am not surprised that there are Taiwanese that have similar questions in their minds.  One of which is their former president who is in continuing, direct talks with the Chinese government.  Unbelievable as it might seem right now, I believe that it is not impossible that we might even see America abandon Israel at some point in the future.

What all of this represents is the foreign impact of domestic divisions inside America that are exacerbated by the flip flop nature of our political system.  One tribe gets all hot and bothered about an international situation and takes a stand that is supported by half the country.  Four years later their domestic opposition comes to power and reverses their domestic and foreign policy decisions.  The people sitting in at various colleges and universities today are the early manifestation of the process.  This is as it has always been.  There is very little difference between our national “dialog” today and that preceding World War II, except in the details, and even there, there are more similarities than we understand.  If you drill down into any given confrontation between protestor and authority, I contend that you will usually find an unwillingness to discuss, compromise, and think about the issues.  It is my way or the highway.  True compromise is anathema to both sides and no one is genuinely seeking compromise, let alone solutions,  political expediency being the iron clad rule that governs.

The older that I get, the more disagreements that I see, the more that I believe the problem is not to be found in any particular disagreement.  Rather, it is in the human mind.  Humans are focused on winning rather than losing, instead of focusing on finding a way to coexist harmoniously.  I count myself to have been in that mode my entire life and, because I was born into the richest country in the history of the world, I have been successful more often than not, and I live a life that is better than the vast majority of my human brothers and sisters.  Because I understand that everything that I have can be taken away from me in a heartbeat, I worry about the way my neighbors relate to each other, and I to them.  The reason that I understand my relationship with the rest of humanity that way, is the explanation as to why I am out of step with my fellow human - foreign and domestic alike.  I understand that I am odd man out and my critics are in control of our destiny.  You will forgive me for thinking that to be way too bad.

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