"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
The most interesting part of the book is how the UN and the international aid community ended up making things far worse not just because they acted too late, but when they did act, they gave aid and comfort to those who had carried out the genocide ... actually helping them to regroup, re-arm, and resume the killing.
What's happening in the Middle East is a legacy of a lot of things -- a lot of which is us getting into bed with all the wrong people in that region in the last 100 years. But it's also the result of the world standing by during a genocide (the Holocaust) and then when we did act, doing so in a way that created a thousand other problems. Action that in many ways was fueled by our guilt in not acting in the first place.
So how do we break that cycle? Not just in Palestine ... but in other places. What is going to happen with Darfur? We are continuing to ignore the genocide that is happening there. Will that just be the first chapter of the insanity. Will the second chapter be aid organizations helping the janjaweed resettle in Chad?
The next book on my bookstand is The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good. It was recommended to me as a compelling argument for bottom-up programs of development (as opposed to the top-down, government imposed programs). I imagine the answer is some sort of a combination of the two. The guy I know in Rwanda with MVP worked with the government to choose the location of the village and insisted on an open-door relationship with the Ministry of Finance to make sure that the places where the power is are logged into what he's doing. But it's also a bottom-up affair -- the people on the ground retain autonomy and get to make their own decisions.
I was listening to "Mike and Mike" on ESPNradio this morning and Mike Greenberg was saying that what drives him crazy about so many people in the media is that even when it's obvious that they're wrong, they will continue to defend their prior opinions against avalanches of evidence to the contrary. If only that were confined to sports media! I think of President Bush being unable to come up with a mistake he'd made in his first term. Why is it so difficult to admit that we were wrong? Doesn't it show growth? Isn't being able to learn and adjust more important than meeting a standard of perfection that no one non-fictional will ever meet?
Rufus: I'm telling you, man, this ceremony is a big mistake. Cardinal Glick: The Catholic Church does not make mistakes. Rufus: Please. What about the Church's silent consent to the slave trade? Bethany: And its platform of noninvolvement during the Holocaust? Cardinal Glick: All right, mistakes were made.
How much better would things be if it we moved that quickly from the reflex of "we don't make mistakes" to the truth of "All right, mistakes were made." And then acted in the present in ways that weren't about assuaging guilt or covering up, but taking an honest fresh look at the situation and looking for the new duties that new occasions teach.
Did that come into play in the establishment of Israel? I don't know enough of the history to know, but I have to wonder if the Allies guilt because of their own relative "noninvolvement" during the Holocaust drove them to a unilateral decision that seemingly didn't take into account any of the possible rammifications for people already living there. Does Israel really have an incontrovertible "right to exist?" Where is the room for anyone to say "mistakes were made" -- on all sides -- and look at this thing fresh?
| Mike at 8/01/2006 04:12:00 PM
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EGR resources and connects the church to embrace what one person, one congregation, one diocese and one church can do to make this mission of global reconciliation happen.
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"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."