The debt ceiling talks have begun to remind me of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
(Above–Soviet missiles in Cuba. Big trouble back in 1962.)
Which side will blink first?
As for the debt ceiling negotiations, I hope President Obama does not sell us out with benefit cuts and domestic spending cuts that make life tougher than it is already. The wealthy have the resources to pay more taxes. If the debt is such a threat, then everybody needs to be part of the solution. Though the real issue–jobs– is ignored by both major parties.
A great book for an interesting take of the Cuban Missile Crisis is Humanity–A Moral History of the Twentieth Century by Jonathan Glover.
This book examines the brutality of the 20th century and the competing impulses of good and evil in indviduals and in larger society.
It is not a cheery book.
“Glover draws hope from the recurring breakthroughs of moral resources and from the happy episodes in which they conspired to avert disaster. During the Cuban missile crisis, Nikita Khrushchev and John F. Kennedy were reminded of the human cost of the nuclear brink they were approaching, Khrushchev by memories of two world wars fought on his soil, Kennedy by a graphic briefing of the aftermath of an atomic bomb. And each understood they were in a Hobbesian trap. Kennedy had just read Barbara Tuchman’s ”Guns of August” and saw how the leaders of great nations could sleepwalk into a pointless and awful war. Khrushchev, thinking like a game theorist, wrote to Kennedy: ”You and I should not now pull on the ends of the rope in which you have tied a knot of war, because the harder you and I pull, the tighter this knot will become. And a time may come when this knot is tied so tight that the person who tied it is no longer capable of untying it, and then the knot will have to be cut.” By identifying the trap, they could set the shared goal of escaping it. In the teeth of opposition from many of their advisers, both made concessions that may have literally saved the world.”
I believe that there is good and evil and that people make choices about how they will proceed in life. At the same time, I think we are often trapped in circumstances not of our own making, and that we are not always in control of our choices in life.
I don’t see any fatal contradiction inherent to these views. It is unlikely that existence itself could come to term without a foundation of conflict, contradiction, and competing elements. These aspects of creation echo in the decisions made by leaders in times of crisis, and in the everyday lives that you and I lead.
We can admit the reality of contradiction and conflict while at the same time choosing clear and hopeful courses of action.
We can take part in the issues of today while looking at the lessons of the past.
We can move forward in a difficult world.