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Socrates Revists Good Vs. Evil

Essay by   •  August 16, 2011  •  Essay  •  583 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,866 Views

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Socrates Revisits Good (us) vs. Evil (them)

If only there were evil people somewhere, insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? -ALEXANDER SOLZHENITSYN

For the first and only time since launching its all-out post-9/11 War on Terror nearly ten years ago, the U.S. has been applauded by most - a majority! - of the world community for an outcome of this, by definition, never-ending war: the tracking down and killing of Osama bin Laden, 9/11's evil mastermind.

The headlines hailed bin Laden's demise as a clear-cut major victory of Good over Evil, albeit essentially symbolic. Showered with kudos were the elite U.S. commandos for pulling off the daring operation with impressive skill, as was President Obama for his cool, deliberative manner that led him as commander-in-chief to give the gutsy "go ahead" order.

The news of bin Laden's death inspired some--intoxicated by a heady brew of high-octane patriotism and self-righteousness--to party in the streets, incoherent but for boisterous shouts of "USA! USA!" Most celebrated their "good riddance" gratitude more soberly, content simply feeling the joy of being proudly on the side of righteousness while savoring the delicious, if naughty pleasure of revenge having been seriously exacted.

It's easy and comforting to believe the line separating good (us) from evil (them) is distinct and unassailable--this in spite of evidence that beyond the headlines, spinmeisters and shouting, it's not.

Imagine a modern-day Socrates in a neighborhood café showing a group of truth-seekers two pictures on his iPad, asking them what the two pictures with and without their backstories have in common, if anything? If common features are noted, do they suggest, in aggregate, a larger truth or insight?

One picture is of terrified citizens running away from the collapsing World Trade Center towers on 9/11. The other picture is the iconic 1972 Vietnam War photo of a young, naked, terror-stricken Vietnamese girl and other villagers running toward the camera and away from their burning napalm-bombed village.

Without backstory, it can only be said both pictures are of apparently frightened people fleeing danger. With backstory, it's known that both pictures are of innocent people who had been terrorized without provocation by foreign aggressors, either directly (Middle Eastern fanatics attacking U.S on 9/11), or indirectly (key U.S. material support of the South Vietnamese military operation that dropped the napalm). Also known is this: both aggressors are "intolerant absolutists" because they are convinced with an "absolute" certainty

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