This morning I was reading the news, and I came to an article about Iran. It turns out that although Iran has not been working very hard on developing a nuclear bomb, they have been working on a delivery system, and on enrichment. Consequently, they are considered to be not all that far from actually having a nuclear weapon. They say their enrichment work is for peaceful purposes.
So what pops into my mind as I’m reading this, you might ask? Well, this is the confession. What popped into my mind was my recollection of Israel bombing a nuclear plant in Iraq many years ago, and how something similar might be done in Iran. Attacking, deposing the government there. Getting the current Ayatollah out of power. This is what my mind is like. Who am I to ever counsel anyone else that they ought to seek peace, if this is what my mind is like?
Here is the truth, as I see it. If we were to attack Iran in this way, it would make things worse. It feels like it would make things better. It feels like we could stop this madness by attacking. But I don’t think we can. Even though my natural first thought is to attack, I do not think that following my natural first thought is the right thing to do.
I don’t even know why Iran is pursuing nuclear enrichment. Maybe they really are going to build nuclear power plants, and generate power that way. I’m not a big fan of nuclear power, but would it be worth going to war with Iran if that were the reason they were enriching their uranium? I don’t think it would.
Iran has been through a terrible war in recent memory. The revolution there just turned 30. They are not stupid. I suspect they have planned for the possibility of air strikes. So going to war with them would probably be harder than going to war with Iraq. And going to war with Iraq is bankrupting us. Furthermore, going to war with Iraq has destroyed our credibility, so if we wanted to attack Iran as well, I don’t think we would find a ready source of allies.
If all that weren’t bad enough, it’s our attempts to control the middle east in the past that have led us to where we are today. The revolution thirty years ago in Iran was a revolution against a government that we installed. A government that had so harmed its people that when they revolted, they had no normalcy to fall back on, and they fell back on religious extremism instead. We really have nobody but ourselves to blame for our current relationship with Iran, and more to the point, the blame falls on us because of our warlike actions in the past, not because of any failure to prosecute a war.
This is the situation in Iraq as well – a despot we installed went crazy, and we wound up deciding to overthrow him.
So we really don’t have to think very hard to see that our warlike actions in the past have not served us well. And yet it’s been taboo in the U.S. to even talk about this, to even acknowledge that the problems in the middle east might be to some degree problems that we created. And it is only this shyness for confession, for taking responsibility for our actions, that allows us even for a moment to consider yet another act of war to try to make things better.
The world is in a dangerous situation right now. We have been mining aquifers to support our agriculture, and many of the aquifers we have been mining are nearly or completely empty. Grain production is sharply down, and we have been burning through our reserves. Food security is a dream for a lot of the world right now, and if things continue the way they are going, it will get worse.
And my reaction to this, I have to admit, is first to be concerned for all the bad things that could happen, and second to think, “well, I live in the United States, things probably won’t get that bad here.” And then finally I recall that the way this sort of thing typically corrects itself is by mass die-offs. People starve to death in the millions, and the problem corrects itself. Am I okay with that? I’m ashamed to say that it’s easy to comfort myself with the hope that things won’t get that bad here.
What is the point of all this soul-baring? It’s that we need to stop screwing around. We have to wake up and start changing the world. The Age of Aquarius has come and gone, and we have very little to show for it. The world will not improve itself. But improvement starts here, in my heart. If I can’t improve my heart, how can I demand of anybody else that they improve theirs? How can I demand that they be the one to start, while I sit back and criticize?
If it’s true that there are evil people in the world who are content to cause wars, to allow famines, even to profit from these evils, then I can always say “well, I’m better than they are, so until they improve, I don’t have to.” But if you think about it, this is completely backwards. Whatever the reason for their evil is, they are steeped in it. Turning around, for them, is going to be harder than it is for me. I at least recognize the problem. I at least can conceive of taking personal responsibility for it.
So if we are in that place, where we are not perfect, but we can allow ourselves to see our own flaws, and to confess them, we have a duty, I think. If the buck doesn’t stop here, I don’t know where it possibly can.