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Re: [existlist] Re: peace loving existentialists

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  • Exist List Moderator
    ... During World War II, the British cracked several German codes. As a result, Sir Winston knew certain cities were about to be bombed. He had to choose -- do
    Message 1 of 49 , May 1 1:08 PM
      On Apr 29, 2006, at 7:37, Aija Veldre Beldavs wrote:

      >> Actions matter more than words, and to me the notion of ends
      >> justifying
      >> the means is not always acceptable -- but I wonder when you do have to
      >> allow bad things to happen for the greater good.
      >> Would I bomb one country to protect another? You better believe it.
      >> Would I invade a nation to protect my own? Yep. I'd even shoot down a
      >> civilian jet to protect a city of millions if I thought it necessary.
      >> And I would mourn the innocent, while knowing I did the "right" thing
      >> in my mind.
      >> - CSW
      > the greater good?
      > are we humans linked to each other as humans, or not?
      > what does someone really know of "mourning" who KNOWS, who assumes that
      > god-like role they "did the 'right' thing" in dropping a bomb on a
      > city of
      > thousands? perhaps you could give one single unequivocal example where
      > dropping bombs on civilians was indeed the right thing to do and i will
      > think again very hard. but if you are unwilling to have those who you
      > care about the most in that doomed city, then why should anyone
      > believe in
      > this position as anything but self-serving? isn't ethics something
      > more,
      > or if not, why bother calling it ethics?

      During World War II, the British cracked several German codes. As a
      result, Sir Winston knew certain cities were about to be bombed. He had
      to choose -- do we protect the citizens and thereby reveal we have
      cracked the codes, or do we allow some to die so that we can continue
      to plan a larger move against Germany?

      The carpet bombing of Dresden and the majority of air raids were
      inaccurate and targeted civilians as well as military targets. I don't
      think those move were wrong. I think they were difficult choices in a
      time of few good alternatives. I certainly think the bombing of Serbia
      by NATO was also a difficult but possibly reasonable choice.

      Men and women in leadership roles make choices most of us would rather
      imagine are not necessary. If I were in the French Resistance and only
      a suicide bomb could destroy a bridge the Nazis were using, could I
      send a person on that errand? Could I destroy my own men if they didn't
      return from a mission behind enemy lines?

      My grandfather made these choices in WWII. He was an engineer
      specializing in demolition of Japanese caves, tunnels, and bases in the
      Pacific. He had to decide if the detonation had to occur even if all
      the Americans hadn't returned. He made those choices because someone
      had to decide.

      Watch something like "United 93" and tell me that those men and women
      didn't "choose" to risk death for everyone on board. People really do
      sacrifice others with them when their seems to be nothing else to

      And yes, I would destroy a plane or even a building with my family on
      board to save a city. I would do so because I know my family would also
      choose to protect as many lives as possible. Thankfully, I'm not a
      military leader or civilian president/PM with those choices to make.

      - CSW
    • Exist List Moderator
      ... While I certainly rely a lot on interviews and lexical analysis for my research, I also recognize the fact that some people are more important in the
      Message 49 of 49 , May 13 1:40 PM
        On May 13, 2006, at 8:42, Aija Veldre Beldavs wrote:

        > On Thu, 11 May 2006, Exist List Moderator wrote:
        >> I know this goes off-topic, to an extent, but I think it is also a
        >> chance to reflect on how history is "created" by a number of factors.
        >> History is not a single thing that can be accurately captured. Like
        >> all
        >> human interactions, it is deeply flawed. We know the "truth" only
        >> because we assume our particular sources have all the information
        >> necessary.
        > guess that's why i'm a folklorist/ethnographer who would like for all
        > to
        > have opportunity for voice. in spite of faulty memory and of framing
        > experience in schemas that are put down as fairy tale stereotypes and
        > such, personal experience doesn't lie on the same level as statistics
        > and narratives funded by powerful interest groups.

        While I certainly rely a lot on interviews and lexical analysis for my
        research, I also recognize the fact that "some people are more
        important" in the larger picture of history. This means we need to
        balance our studies of Hitler, Stalin, FDR, and Sir Winston with the
        experiences of soldiers and civilians -- but we must take into account
        the fact Hitler was definitely more influential than some other Germans
        as Stalin was more important than some Russians.

        Maybe "important" is a loaded word, but I don't think the semantics
        matter as much as the basic point -- we study world leaders and major
        events for a reason. They are "praxis" moments that shift cultures and
        even large sections of the globe.

        My point on the individual story causing problems:

        A single story about someone suffering from a disease can cause a
        public reaction that is not relative to the risk. Psychologists have
        long known that too much empathy is as dangerous emotionally as too
        little -- too much empathy is usually a sign of depression, often
        accompanied by compulsive disorders.

        In other words, I cannot know and care about all the suffering in the
        world, or I could not function. I can know there are problems in the
        Sudan and send money to a charity, or even petition my government to
        become involved, but I cannot emotionally deal with every single story
        of rape, torture, and starvation.

        We should record how the bulk of any society exists, which is why pop
        culture is now "standard culture" and studied extensively. We should
        never dismiss the common experience -- but the common are seldom
        responsible for the major shifts in history.

        - C. S. Wyatt
        I am what I am at this moment, not what I was and certainly not all
        that I shall be.
        http://www.tameri.com - Tameri Guide for Writers
        http://www.tameri.com/csw/exist - The Existential Primer
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