When I read a news paper or see the TV news nowadays, I get the feeling, we live at the the edge of something big. We live at the edge of a political and historical cataclysm. Whether we go over the edge will depend on cool heads and people who’s thinking is not dictated by pride.
And it is our (false) PRIDE, I believe, that lead us to it. It happened that they were discussing “pride” last night on our ABC in the series “Jennifer Byrne Presents“. We all think our country is the best, our system is the best, our God is the best and our weapons (read penises) are the best. The implications here are “male pride” and women and children have to suffer for it.
No wonder we have come to the juncture that is our contemporary world. A hospital, in Gaza, is shelled or a passenger plane (MH 17) is shot down with no regard to the lives of people and a possible later historical outcome. One hundred years ago a series of shots rang out at Sarajevo that changed the world for ever. It was pure Serbian pride that lead that young man to his deadly deed. And it was pure Austrian pride that made Franz Ferdinand parade in that city.
The re-emergence of hurt German pride after WW I lead to WW II.
Whoever shot down MH 17 did it out of pride. We can do it, they thought and to hell with everybody else. We in the West like pointing at Russia and Putin (do you notice that the letters “Ras” are missing in front of Putin?) and claim they are to blame. I think Putin is smarter than this. While not running away from conflict with the West, he nevertheless is not looking for it. I’m sure, when he heard of the downing of MH 17 he was storming in a big rage through the Kremlin. He himself is full of pride and that leads him into strife because he does not think what is good for all, but what looks good for him. And right now he is thinking how he could use the situation to his advantage.
We in the West are not smart enough to consider a way out for people whose false pride lead them into trouble . We could learn something from a lion tamer who always gives a dangerous animal a way out: jump on another seat or take another position.
The USA is full of pride ( cynics would say “shit”) and it is dangerous when a former world power is on a slippery dip to mediocrity. In a country where they say, the second place getter is the first loser, you must have nightmares that someone, somewhere is overtaking you. I feel sorry for President Obama, who must be asking himself, why he ever nominated to be a candidate for President of the United States. Well, seeing him at the convention I must say, it was sheer pride.
And then there is Israel. In 1948 it became the homeland for the displaced Jews from the war ravaged Europe. The inoffensive Jews of the diaspora became the aggressive Israelis who had no compassion for their Palestinian fellow citizens who had taken them in in friendship and good will.
Seventy years ago there was an uprising in Warsaw. Polish pride lead the resistance movement onto a suicide mission. They did not know the Russians wanted them destroyed and the Germans were just the right people to do it. A year earlier Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto staged an uprising on their own against the Nazis. It was not so much pride as pure desperation.
When I look at today’s news I’m reminded of those two uprisings and the behaviour of the occupiers. Gaza is being destroyed, as was Warsaw – street by street , house by house. You would think the Jews among the Israelis have learned something in the diaspora. They only repeat the mistakes of others. Of course, if you declare someone your enemy, your pride tells you, you must give them no quarter.
No quarter is given in the Ukraine either. Did you have a closer look at those separatists? They bristle with pride as they fondle their automatic weapons as teenagers would play with their erect members. The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is full of false pride himself, promising that we , the Australians, will recover the bodies and the evidence and will bring the perpetrators to justice. I can tell him right now, that won’t happen. He will have to swallow his pride and tell the people of Australia he can not accomplish the mission. If he tries a military solution he must be prepared to see his elite soldiers coming home in body bags, if at all. Russia has been the grave yard for many.
Here in Australia, with no neighbours we have to deal with, chest thumping is a well understood pastime, especially during the Commonwealth Games. We are the greatest, but don’t get the idea coming here to live among us. Aussie pride is a great confidence builder, but in the wider world out there, we would have to learn to swallow our pride.
Mankind, as a whole, has not learnt much since biblical times and that is why “Pride” is still one of the deadly sins.