The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, February 10, 2006

Iran and Me

Following up on questions about my answers...

1)  I don't for a moment doubt that Iran wants Israel destroyed. They've said as much too many times.

2) Providing someone with "the technology" for building a bomb, and selling them the bomb, are two different levels. My comment is limited to selling.  I don't have an opinion about the amount of trouble someone would be in for selling ideas or component pieces.

3)I didn't say anything about what Stalin did.  I said that "If I was Russia" I would behave in such and such manner.  The comment stands.

4)I'd have to look at the histories of each and every one of the other nations mentioned to decide whether, if I were them, I'd "mistrust" America.  Isn't Turkey a NATO ally?

The fact that I think self-defense is a rational reason to want the Bomb doesn't mean we shouldn't try to stop them.  It DOES mean to be suspicious of anyone who tells you there is no rational or non-aggressive reason to want nuclear weapons.  And this is exactly what we will be told if our leaders believe we must go to war.  Not that there are not reasons to go, but that they will chose the simplest, black-and-white motivation to rally the troops, whether it is the truth or not.  This approach is probably effective, but it is dishonest as well. 

Beyond a doubt, politicians since the beginning of time have over-simplified situations to get people riled up, rather than encourage debate.  This is probably a survival value in some contexts: PERHAPS even this one.  I don’t know, I really don’t.  This is certainly one of the reasons I could not be a politician.  Lying seems to be built into the system.  Seems to be a requirement of the job.  I’m simply not capable of thinking this way. 

I’ve never, ever claimed to having the answers, just to having observations about the way people think.  I believe that clarity and honesty and empathy solve far more problems than obfuscation and lying and demonizing.  I own a gun, can fire it just fine, thank you, and have spent most of my life learning how to defend myself, so it isn’t that I think the world is sugar-coated.

But…and this is a hard thing for me to say…the   sense of extending my own humanity to the majority white culture that demonized and degraded my ancestors and told me I was  worthless kept me from hating.  Asked me to understand how I might behave in the same way, were I born into that position.  I CAN’T TURN IT OFF.  God help me, if I did, the lifetime of resentments, fear and homicidal anger it channeled into love, compassion, and a desire to reach out would then be forced to look at the behavior of those who have behaved as my enemy in this country…can’t you see where that would lead?  Either I seek to understand (even as I keep my powder dry) or I don’t .  Either I commit to love, or I don’t.  I am who I am because I never, every yielded to the bitterness and the fear and the temptation to say that those who offer me violence or insult are subhuman, evil, or corrupt.  Just human, terribly human…and that I must seek to understand, or I will become the thing I fear and despise.

I’m being blisteringly honest here, admitting I have no answers for the political arena save the belief that the means ARE the end.  That approach has served me for fifty-three years, allowed me to achieve virtually all of my dreams, helped me to survive, helped me to interact with almost everyone I’ve met, everywhere in the world, with peace and honor, defused violence, disarmed muggers, and allowed me to feel that I have supported the highest dreams of my ancestors and smoothed the way for my grandchildren.

Aside from that…I DON’T KNOW, people.  Honestly, I don’t.  My head isn’t large enough to know. 

But my heart is large enough to love, and I choose to come from that space.  I swear to God that if I didn't , I would have murdered someone by now.

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