Wednesday, August 6, 2014

No one knew how things would turn out (and that's exactly the point)

Since I first opposed, publicly, the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, based on what turned out to be completely false claims, I have been told many times that, "Well, you turned out to be right about that, Charles, ... but, at the time, no one knew how things would turn out.  Those WMDs could have been there.  At the time, you didn't know you were right – you couldn't have known."

Yes, and that is exactly why I think it was important to base my personal choices, not on what the White House was selling or what the media outlets were screaming, but on what my own gut told me, and even more important, on my personally held principles. Logically, I knew that the immediacy of the invasion was only justified by the fact that the case for the war was coming unraveled, and quickly.  But more than that; I felt that it was a violation of my principles – long-standing American principles – for the United States to attack another country, especially a tiny, defenseless country, that had done nothing to justify that attack.  It was wrong.  And I didn't have to possess indisputable evidence of anything at all to know that it was wrong.

It was dismaying to watch so many others totally abandon their own principles, out of fear ... easily; without the slightest reluctance or doubt.

Friends, when your "deeply held principles" can be easily manipulated by propagandists; and are subject to situational interpretation, then they aren't principles at all, are they?

So, in the absence of sound knowledge on which to base our decisions; should we trust the US government and the US media to tell us what to do?  I think we've learned how unwise that is.

Or do we trust our own gut instincts and fall back on our own personally held principles?

I'll argue for the latter – it has always worked for me.

Trust your gut.  No act, based on principle, regardless of the outcome, is meaningless.

Winston would have liked to continue talking about his mother. He did not suppose, from what he could remember of her, that she had been an unusual woman, still less an intelligent one; and yet she had possessed a kind of nobility, a kind of purity, simply because the standards that she obeyed were private ones. Her feelings were her own, and could not be altered from outside. It would not have occurred to her that an action which is ineffectual thereby becomes meaningless.

– from George Orwell's 1984