“What then must we do?”

Action or Inaction

The question must certainly arise: what can I, what should I do? I have difficulty thinking of a more interesting or arresting topic. It is here posed as a consideration of the issues surrounding theoretical government complicity in the crimes of 9/11. With sufficient study, the doubts about the government’s role are erased. Not everyone, however, has the ability or inclination to do the amount of studying required. Some people employ more stringent standards of proof than others. And some are burdened by beliefs that make the notion fundamentally untenable, to the point where facts are irrelevant.

The question of what should be done is effected by all of these considerations as one’s decision to turn the car around and go home depends on one’s certainty that the stove has been left on. I seek here a consideration of the life choice: what do you do if you believe the government was involved? Would it be wrong to do nothing? What if the conviction coexisted with a well-deserved understanding that the forces to be opposed are more powerful and less morally-restricted than almost any other in the history of man? What would be wrong with a resentful anger that ratchets back its conception of the human potential and seeks simply to create the most positive human ripple effect within the small circle of each individual’s existence? Can’t we learn to live with tyranny and still enjoy the pleasure of another person’s company? Can we still be a positive force for those around us, and there find peace?

It may well depend on the thickness of the beautifully-fitted velvet glove that encases this nation’s vicious iron fist. If that which controls us is able to avoid the most virulent demonstrations of its power; if it is able to promote an image of freedom sufficient for the level of scrutiny of which most citizens are capable, the substantial majority of Americans may well simply muster a shrug but then still go to a baseball game or the symphony. If their job is not affected, or its loss or diminution in pay can be plausibly ascribed to natural economic forces as opposed to the underlying tyranny, there will be a predisposition toward acceptance.

The problem of truth is just one more public relations problem, to be attacked by public relations professionals. The sadder and bleaker the realization of the depth of the depravity, the greater the obstacle to action. The worse off we are, the more likely we are to simply accept. Assuming success on the part of truth, however, what then?

Where will the convinced but inactive citizen find discomfort? A lot may have to do with body counts and numbers of countries invaded. The crucial question, however, will be the extent, the width, depth, and breadth of the conviction in the populace. If it becomes apparent that most of the people with whom we interact share the same belief, the difficult moments for the inactive will expand dramatically. Certain ideas will come into play. For example:

Powerlessness breeds violence. What greater sense of powerlessness than an understanding that citizens died on a vast scale but this monstrous atrocity finds no response in justice. It is an essence of humanity to cry for justice, and to acknowledge its absence would be to concede powerlessness. The violence there inspired would find its victims among the uniformed, the soldiers and the police who represent the state, who are conceived to be aiders and abettors of those who carried out the attacks. Violence would also find its victims within the family, as a result of subconscious unease, or displaced anger, as well as within the community as a whole, the quest for power finding expression in antisocial acts that are attempts at cohesion and identity, the gang, for example.

Powerlessness breeds psychological unease. That part of the population beset by emotional instability will grow and feel its pain more deeply. To the extent that one’s mental health affects one’s physical health, our already overmatched healthcare system will find and feel strains it was unaware of previously as generally suffering people turn to a source of balm and comfort even if a cure has nothing to do with medicine.

Our education system will become a tool of indoctrination and lies, or the beginning of a tumult unparalleled in this nation’s experience. Children demand answers. Scholars will give them or never enter the field. Or they will be the saddest of sufferers.

The national economy will not survive as the citizens know it now. The developed world already knows more than do the citizens of this nation. At some point this country could well be viewed as unstable by its trading partners. How far is it from that appreciation to a decision to use the euro instead of the dollar, and the calling-in of the American debt?

Maybe, if those of us, who know, simply choose to remain silent, the dynamo of a powerless, knowing, but inactive people will remain inert. If there is certainty in any of these matters, it is that the thirst for justice does not die, and the cry for it can always be heard. If truth is a force unto itself, a force of nature and a force of life itself, all of which appears abundantly clear from history, the question then becomes, how many decades or generations of pitiable, powerless suffering must the American people, and the world’s people abide before the now-still hand of justice begins to twitch with an impulse to action?.

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