The Right Thing and America
Perhaps the most revered sacred spiritual text in the lands below the Himalayas is Bhagvat Gita which means the Divine Song. One of its verses says that it is important for great and leading men in society to do the right thing because whatsoever a great man does, others tend to emulate. Similar sentiments are echoed across all of the great works of philosophy and spirituality across the world.
Just as it is with individuals so it is with nations. It is important for them to do the right thing because other nations tend to emulate them. Over the past seventy years, ever since WWII, America has emerged as the leading nation in the world. It has the largest economy and the strongest army. Recently, the current President of the US, Barack Obama stated in his last State of the Union address that Americans must be proud because America is the strongest nation and it is the envy of other nations. He was right only partly. America is undoubtedly the strongest nation but it is no longer the envy of the world. That time has passed away a decade or two ago. The rising gun violence both from police and on the streets, a burgeoning prison population, huge economic inequalities, child poverty and homelessness, hugely expensive medicines and medical treatment, expensive college education etc all make many in the world shudder at the thought rather than envy America. If at the present time some countries are envied, they are countries such as Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Norway, Germany and Switzerland to name some of the most prominent ones.
How has this turn of events taken place? It is well understood that just as individuals cannot be perfect so it is with nations. To err is human but the biggest difference between an improving individual or nation and a declining one is that former attempts to do the right thing while the latter does not care for it enough, giving more importance to interests and gain. Sadly in many matters, America has started falling in the second category. The most severe example of this was when Bush senior and junior went to war in Iraq stating that it is in America’s self interest to do so. It has been mentioned in earlier notes in this blog that wars fought for self interest bring disaster in their wake and only when they are fought for self Defence or a righteous cause can they bring peace later. They leave the veterans who fought it not as proud heroes but as persons broken down with post traumatic stress disorders. The difference between the two types of war is either doing the right thing or ignoring it.
This author was quite shocked when he heard in debates over use of human torture in US if it produced useful information or not. The same sentiment was echoed recently in a program on BBC, for as said, all nations emulate great nations. The debate rather should have been if it is the right thing to do or not. If one went only by the result of a deed the principle could be extended to people robbing banks to do good with the loot and some even killing their grandmothers for her inheritance. The principle has been carried far into everything, assault weapons in hands of people are good because they help gun sales, Guantanamo Bay facility cannot be closed by the President because Congress would make a fuss, even in courts, not because it is the right thing to do etc. The same spiritual text mentioned at the outset has stressed over several of its verses that doing the right thing is far more important than the result of any action. The result shall not be determined by the action alone howsoever well executed but by much else in the universe i.e it is the means that are important not the result and happiness over the long term can only result from using the right means, accepting whatever the outcome as the right one, albeit it may produce some temporary pain over the short term.
In the opinion of this author, America can return to its past glory, arrest decline and once again become the envy of the world if it returns to this simple principle – doing the right thing. In the ongoing election campaign for a new President there seems to be just one who upholds this principle and he is Bernie Sanders. It is only with this can America become not just the strongest nation on Earth but also count itself among happy ones. Millions of lovely American people with hearts filled with compassion and goodness deserve it. It is up to them to choose the right lawmakers and leaders to make this possible, lawmakers who do not lead them into wars and hate but peace and happiness, who work not just to increase the coffers of a few rich persons in return for scraps and lollies they throw their way as they do for their dogs, but to ensure that there is food on every table and a roof over every head across the land. Only then shall peace spread not just across America but across the world for as long as America remains the biggest economy in the world, its influence shall dominate.
Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Colosseum_in_Rome,_Italy_-_April_2007.jpg This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.