Running Towards the Smoke and Fire

I am about out of energy for this week. But I do have the smoking remains of an irony meter sitting in the corner crying to be heard. And a tiny little mangled… something. Something Confucius might have called Ren. Something I almost forgot about.

Remember back in 2003 or 2004 or so when Rick Perry wanted a billion dollar stimulus for Texas and bragged because he got it? And then when it was time to run for the disgusting jerk GOP nomination for president suddenly stimulus was the most evil thing ever? And when New York was under water, screw them, we can’t afford to help, we need to balance the budget, I guess this will just have to hurt.

So when a section of Texas exploded this week, it likely didn’t surprise those of you who have memories that Rick wanted to know (within the hour) just what was taking the feds so long to cut that help check.

Yeah, shocked me too.

And when 90% plus of the nation said “hey, look, I like the idea of gun ownership, but if a background check slows down this new thing where we watch dozens of kids get mowed down in a single go, maybe that isn’t too difficult a price to pay,” the GOP, as a near single body, said “no, the NRA signs our checks thankyouverymuchanyway.” That hurt too. Not as much as watching Dianne Feinstein complain that the Senate should be a majority body rather than ruled by filibuster. You know, after she voted to leave the filibuster in place.

Honestly though, with 3,525 or more gun deaths in the USA since Newtown, in part because we can’t be bothered to pass laws that people actually demand, and the death toll climbing in Texas, in part because we can’t be bothered to actually regulate many companies, how do you expect oddball rules in a voting body most people don’t understand to matter?

Did you notice how some of the 6% that sided with the NRA said that a national database (like the one that was NOT in the bill they were screaming about?) would take away their rights while they sat back and watched a brand new internet privacy bill get passed and the IRS announced they could read your email and if we go all the way back to the days after 9/11 the patriot act was something a good many of them supported? Makes your brain hurt, doesn’t it?

At the end of the day I see something in common in these cases. We talk about the people who ran toward the blast in Boston, partly because it was brave, and partly because it speaks to us of compassion. We expect that Texas will get a check, because the rest of the country will care about those who need it. Just like we know that some people in Texas ran towards the flames, like the woman who wrote the blog I was just reading an hour ago who went to help at the senior citizens center that the Texas blast caught on fire. We see that some people are fighting for gun laws because it matters to them more that others are suffering than that they may have to fill in another piece of paper or wait a day to buy a gun.

As much as the issue is often divided between right and left, or liberal and conservative, that isn’t the issue. The question is “when it came time to measure freedom against responsibility, did you care more for yourself, or others?” Did you run toward the smoke and flames? Or away? Did you look in the eyes of grieving parents and swear to help make sure even one less parent would feel this way, or did you you hide behind the illusion of protection your own “rights” gave you? When someone pointed out that the pollution you are adding to the sky is killing the next generation, did you try to change it, or did you pass the buck? When the LGBT community asked for the rights everyone else has, did you join them, or did you announce that you don’t care, because you have a spouse? Did you fight the movement to extend basic healthcare to others because it might cost you a few pennies, or did you hope that your few pennies might save a life, even if you never knew them?

There are a number of ways to divide the political spectrum. Classical liberals, socialists, libertarians, social conservatives, communitarians, fiscal conservatives. A lot of ways. Too many ways.

But at the end of it all, it seems to almost boil down, for me at least, to the side that says “we can all build a community if we work together” and the side that says “I got mine, good luck getting yours. If I don’t take it first.”

Aristotle said that man is the social animal. He argued that a human that wasn’t involved in the social project wasn’t actually human. A man stranded alone on an island was not truly human, because he was missing the society that defined him. He was no more human without that society than a city was truly a city when it stands empty of people. It is just buildings. It is no longer what it was meant to be.

The side that isn’t interested in building a society, because they always have to get theirs before anyone else matters, is simply not human. They may have the DNA, the shape, they may well seem human, but they are missing something. The compassion perhaps, or maybe the empathy, or perhaps the ability to love. I am not sure what is missing.

But they aren’t human.

I am tired of arguing with the ones running away from the smoke and flame that they should help their fellow humans. It is a waste of time. They can’t be convinced. Because they aren’t fellow humans. They are something much, much less than that. The time spent arguing with them would be better spent actually putting out the flames.

  1. #1 by Larry Bergan on April 19, 2013 - 8:16 pm

    What did Ann Colter and friends ever do to you? :)

    It was really nice when those Utahn’s ran over to the burning car and lifted it up to get the guy out from underneath. Made me feel proud.

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