Helplessness, Hopelessness, and Despair – The Big Three
August 20, 2016
What am I doing? I wonder if I am doing the right thing. It seems like a question that I can never escape. And I can’t answer it.
Did you ever ask yourself that question – as a child, as an adult, as a parent, as an employee, as an employer, as an adversary, as a plaintiff, as a defendant, as a winner, as a loser, as a buyer, as a seller? How about as a politician or an elected leader?
What have we done? Are we doing the right thing? I wonder if we ever asked ourselves those questions as a country, as a group of countries, as adversaries, as allies, as victors, as world citizens, as the world’s self-imposed police force, as defenders, as invaders.
No one lives to see the ultimate answer to such questions. The end result really never comes because every action has an opposite and equal reaction with consequences that the perpetrator cannot or will not conceive of in advance. History is replete with pitiful examples of unexpected consequences, collateral damage, impoverished societies, leaderless countries, corrupt leaders, bankrupt economies, and lawlessness – all resulting from reactions to actions not well thought out. Hundreds of millions of people have been killed and many countries destroyed by warfare, political corruption, or adverse regime changes. Hundreds of millions live with no hope or path to escape helplessness, hopelessness, and despair.
And then more bad stuff happens.
As hunters and gatherers it was easier to survive without encroaching on someone’s territory. Now, with seven billion of us on the planet it has become a lot more difficult to all get along. Food, shelter, and clothing got more complicated. And then we add in education and recreation and buying “stuff” and the challenge got even tougher. Oh, and let’s not forget the incurable addiction of the incessant quest for “power.”
We believe that we live in the greatest country in the world. Maybe we do, but it didn’t come about without winning political wars and economic wars. And it didn’t come about without ignoring the question: “are we doing the right thing?”
Please excuse this superficial and inaccurate summary of recent world history, but here goes:
Did we do the right thing in Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, El Salvador, and Nicaragua? Or were we just serving the interests of our ambitious and pleading corporations by pursuing protectionism.
Did we do the right thing in Korea or were we fearful of “communism” enlisting more of Asia and ruling the world, a threat comparable to “the sky is falling”?
Did we do the right thing in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos or were we just mislead into thinking that defeating the threat of communism was worth the loss of millions of lives and trillions of dollars?
Now we can fast-forward to the Middle East. Have we done and are we doing the right thing in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Israel, Pakistan, Syria, and Turkey? Perhaps a better question is: are we doing the right thing in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Oman?
We don’t mean for these questions to be rhetorical but, as it turns out, they are. They are rhetorical because we will never know if we have done or are doing the right thing. We will have a hundred different opinions about “the right thing” but we will never know the answer. It will always be arguable by our future historians.
And now, how are things going in the Middle East so far? The war mongers among us demand that we send our military there and resolve things once and for all. That, of course, is laughable at best. The Middle East now is perhaps the armpit of the world, a conglomeration of border wars, regime changes, corrupt leadership, religious conflicts, ethnic cleansing – all of the wrong power and religious struggles to get involved in or to try to resolve.
As we speak, thousands are still being killed in Syria and millions of refugees who were forced to leave their homes and all of their possessions have overrun Europe looking for an existence, survival from warfare, a peaceful place live.
Egypt, having been led by long-term leaders Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak, settled on Morsi to replace Mubarak. Morsi was soon overthrown and replaced by a new regime under Sisi, a military general under Mubarak, who has packed the government with military leaders.
Iraq, thanks to US misguidance, got rid of the murderous and corrupt Saddam Hussein, the guy we supported when we found him useful as the USSR was attempting to spread their power and dominance over the region. Now Iraq is a republic struggling to hold on to a country devastated by years of warfare and complete destruction of the economy.
Afghanistan, a victim of retaliation for the 9-11 disaster in NYC, and the perceived mandate to destroy the training grounds of Al Qaeda, is now a struggling republic clinging to what is left of their country which is devastated by years of warfare and complete destruction of their economy.
Tunisia, the home of Mohamed Bouazizi, the struggling fruit and vegetable merchant who burned himself to death in the public square to protest the oppressive government which destroyed his livelihood, triggered protests in Algeria, Egypt, Oman, Jordan and many other countries – the Arab Spring – and even in the US – and initiated the toppling of many dictatorships throughout the Middle East.
Yemen, an economically poor country, is a republic without strong military protection and close to anarchy.
Libya escaped the forty year regime of Qaddafi and is now virtually leaderless and with little hope of establishing a peaceful solution, close to anarchy.
The Kurds inhabit the mountainous areas of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey – Kurdistan. They have been known as fierce fighters in protecting their civilization for many decades and have been called upon to play an active role in defeating ISIS, which has invaded and murdered thousands of their people in order to consume some of their territories.
Iran, after changing regimes at the hands of the US in 1953 when the Shah was returned to power and again in 1979 when he was ousted by the Islamic religious leaders, is trying to rebuild their economy after years of economic sanctions. Now they are toying with cooperation with the US in order to pursue nuclear power and with Russia as a defensive measure, with little indication of their right choice.
Pakistan is torn between loyalty to the US or other opposing interests in the region and sits idly by with nuclear weapons and corrupt political regimes.
Israel, sitting right in the middle of all the most dangerous conflicts, under the shadow of Iran and other perceived potential threats, which would tend to make them trigger-happy warriors with nuclear weapons. They are struggling protectionists with little room to expand their population and an important ally of the US in the region.
Most of the countries just discussed are remnants of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire after WWI as the empire was divided up by Britain and France. The borders have changed many times, as have the various regimes, but the conflicts seem to be endless and with no obvious resolution.
So, how are we doing so far?
Don’t try to answer that question because there is no answer. For every action there is an opposing and equal reaction after reaction after reaction after reaction. No one will live long enough to see the answer to all of the reactions to all of the actions that seemed to be the right thing to do at the time.
The question that we always seem to ignore, and perhaps the most fundamental question, is: what action will help to eliminate or treat helplessness, hopelessness, and despair? These are the roots of anger, violence, aggression, terrorism, and the horrendous suffering by the victims thereof. And there are roots to helplessness, hopelessness, and despair that are not being recognized, considered, treated, or eliminated.
What actions can we take that will evolve into reactions to assuage helplessness, hopelessness, and despair? And what actions can we take to assuage the roots to the big three. That is the ultimate question. Don’t ever forget those three words.
Think about it!