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Rob Garbin's Blog

They just don't respect life like we do.

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I have heard this many times throughout my life but, as I get older and hopefully wiser, I find myself questioning this statement. I guess this goes back to the reason I wrote “The Parable of Doubt”. I not only feel the need to doubt the actions of religious leaders but also of human leadership in general. More importantly, I feel the need to question the truth of people who use such statements to differentiate America from other parts of the world.

First off, I am aware of many major historical events in the world. I understand the horror of the Holocaust and the Khmer Rouge along with Stalin’s Russia and the Armenian Genocide. Yes, there are a lot of humans who either do not care about the suffering around them or actually take joy in such suffering. Where I draw the line is the pious sentiment with which statements like the title of this post are made. My story “Cast the First Stone” is a direct descendant of my feelings on this subject. More to the point, many American’s are comfortable waving their flag of moral superiority with respect to the rest of the world while ignoring our common history.

Second, my intension is not to point fingers at any one person, but to instead explain the reasons for my views on this subject. The way I see it, there are three types of American’s when it comes to this issue, those who actively foster this point of view in order to justify or hide their deeds; those who blind themselves to the truths of our American History; and those who are willing to admit that we are not knights on white horses. The first group is reprehensible, the second group is easily manipulated, and the last group spends a lot of time saying “You are kidding, right”. I fall into the last group.

Finally, I only want to say my peace. You don’t have to read further if you don’t want. My only real hope is that you are willing to open your mind and consider some of the hard facts about America that are a part of all Americans whether we like it or not. So, let us get started.

To begin with, America has its own checkered past when it comes to human rights violations. Our treatment of the American Indians comes close to genocide and only falls short because we stopped killing them. However, even today, given all the treaties we broke, there are some that begrudge them anything they have. Look at the stink that was raised over Indians placing a casino on their reservation. Certain individuals could not see beyond their lust for money, which they inherited from their forefathers, to say that the Indians had a right to find a living as best they could. They could have said “You know, this will hurt our profits, but the Indians have gotten the wrong end of the stick often enough.” Of course, money was involved so that did not happen.

Now take African Americans. America was founded by people trying to get away from persecution and control by others, yet many practiced slavery. Talk about hypocrites. Not only did these people treat the blacks like property, they more often treated their animals better. Many slaves died from mistreatment. Women were raped and families torn apart. What part of the Bible, professed by these people, says this is sanctioned by God? How can they pretend to be following the teachings of God when they are breaking his commandments?

Moving ahead, we have companies that trapped their workers into virtual slavery through the use of company stores and other schemes. For those that do not know American History, Company Stores were run in mining towns for miners by the companies whom employed them. Because the companies vigorously restrained competition and controlled the currency their employees were paid, they controlled a monopoly on where miners could by the stuff they needed. In addition, the costs of necessities were usually more than the companies paid their employees who had to go into debt to the company and fear foreclosure. Thus, the company could force a miner to work in unacceptable conditions, in other words, Slavery. Finally, miners and other exploited workers began to unite into what are called unions, but greed for the almighty dollars made this a bloody battle. Many workers and a few company people lost their lives at this time. What I find sad is how we are to moving back in that direction.

Now take a look at recent decades. Look how we took a justified response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01 and twisted it into a dark chapter in US history. First of all, consider the political games that got us into an inexcusable war in Iraq as I mentioned in my second post on Thoughts I did not Think Much About at the Time. We have shown disrespect for human life in several ways during this war. One, disastrous policies of our previous leadership and those that supported them, lead to excessive loss of life for the Iraqi citizens. Because of our sense of moral superiority, we ignored advice that may have made the transition from our forces to Iraqi forces easier. Many of these policies have contributed to Iraqi and American deaths. Add to these actions greed, which was more concerned with oil and construction profits than the citizens of Iraq and our own troops. The fact that our troops were sent in with inadequate armor, in my mind, was treasonous. More time seemed to be spent on promoting the war than executing it. Another form of that greed was the awarding of reconstruction contracts to a select few companies. Companies like Haliburton who make it routine to hang there people out to dry. Before they send an employee to a place like Iraq, they require them to sign a waiver freeing the company from any responsibility in case of harm or death. They have no problem reaping the profits from their employees, but they cry foul when it comes to helping those they put in harm’s way.

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