Letter to the Future. VIII - The Privelage of Surprise

30 July 2010 The Privelage of Surprise To Future, I sincerely hope that none of the fulcrums in time between you and I is the terroristic destruction of a U.S. city. I write to you, this July morning, knowing a few things. First, I know that there is much deluded hatred in the world and that no matter the weight of America's most embarrassing representatives - from Scott Lively to Sarah Palin to Glenn Beck
 - no violent action, no detonation, no sabotage, devastation or pursuit of ruin against us is justified. I also know, however, that while the choice to kill and maim always belongs to those who do it, the opportunity to be more cunning, better informed, more stable and steady-handed and cognizent of the ways invaluable principles are included or ignored in decision-making is an opportunity available to whoever dares take it. We can be apalled and furious, heartbroken and confused, even afraid for a few moments, but in the wake of an attack like September 11, or in reflection on failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have not earned the privelage of being surprised. We can philosophize as much as we want about morality or justified conflict, but the world does not function in the parameters of philosophy much less the guidance of logic. In order to earn a moment of surprise after such tragedies as 9/11, we must first - as a nation - wholely and unmistakably prove that we're better than and immutably opposed to such injustice. We have not done that. We do not fly planes into towers and that counts from something incredible about us. But we do wage war carelessly, with little regard for a moment of introspection in order to reduce the misery we will summon in our fury. This is too close to flying planes into buildings. As opposed to rage or a lust for vengeance, to earn surprise we must have honestly thought our assailants were not chalk full of reasons to hate us. So often hatred lurks at the heals of injustice, and as we watch retaliatory rockets be painted with the names of those killed in the first waves, we start to understand that, perilously, we live in a world of competing injustices. And so, only those peoples whose greatness is written on the walls of their calm rebuilding, instead of the tank tracks of power struggle, are allowed the privelage of surprise. I opened with such a heavy sentence because in some ways, the attitude of my time is one waiting for another attack. Angst, fear, resentment are all common motivators in thinking about about our policy toward the world and dangerously cloud our judgement. Our instincts, personal and primitive, offers us aggression first. Thus, the crippled state of an Afghanistan no longer ruled by the Taliban, but instead by hunger, fear, and contempt for a brainless American fist. If we can reflect for a moment while the rage turns over in our minds and dissipates from our hearts then we may rightly contemplate the consequence of injustices at our disposal. To kill terrorism do not gloriously cut off its hands or with unmatched ability gouge out its eyes, but make it diseased, contaminating its person with a future of stability and an effort toward democracy. We have spent our time insisting that a bloodied, black-eyed America can still gather herself to war, while victory is only possible in the rebuilding of ruins from which the wraiths of terror come. We earn surprise when we try to eliminate the grounds for hatred which fuels our enemy, and he attacks us still. Even then, we do not earn self-righteousness and we have a choice between the path that will satiate, and the path that will succeed. Indeed, on the only time scales that really matter, these paths will be the same and all others just an emotional exercise in repeating history. Its not difficult to understand in principle that, we will find our brightest future in the same way we shed our darkest past: slowly, deliberately, leaning on each other and always attempting to further understand those who could hurt you and those you could hurt. Again and again, Future, knowing its the only course to victory, earn the privelage of surprise. Erik in the past

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