The now infamous Professor Ward Churchill may not have been in his element when he described the slain financiers of the World Trade Center as genocidal middlemen, as Adolf Eichmanns of a freemarkets system of amoral efficiency. Despite Churchill's impropriety and lapses in tact, his arguments appeal to those of us weary of ignorance and complacency in an era of mass-produced sorrow.
Cogs in the wheel, most of us are feckless, mired in mundane livelihoods. Our collective departure from agrarian lifestyle, arguably the greatest monument to civilization, gave rise to a flurry of thinkers and buttressed an era of accomplishments; in spite of this, we are knowingly degenerating to days of hunters and gatherers, days when free time ceases to exist.
Lessons from Churchill teach how ignorance of one's evil deeds does not equate to innocence. Just as the judiciary pities very little the reckless driver who, with no intent to harm, slaughters a man, morality should pity very little those who, without evil intent, do evil. Certainly, the crime without intent is lesser, but the criminal is never innocent. Blissfully ignorant of extraordinary renditions, society abidingly supports the machinery to torture. Innocent? We are not, and we mustn't pretend to be.
Like criminal law and its perennial amendments, morality serves a particular purpose and we must accordingly redefine morality to serve more greatly its purpose. While laws govern the tactics of our welfare, our immediate needs for safety, morals govern the strategy of our welfare, our needs to live through the next millennium.
So long as we are content, believing we are journeying on the moral high-ground, our small peon-scaled atrocities can be overlooked, thereby giving free reign for our collective atrocities to engulf any hopes for the long-term viability of our civilization. Therefore, with the strategy of civilization's longevity in mind, it is imperative to redefine morality. Ever-increasing population will only further exacerbate the need to fundamentally feel guilt over our minor infractions. Our only recourse is to guide ourselves to the Gandhian philosophy where we must be the change we wish to see in the world.
Readdressing Churchill, we indeed need to view those complacent in their crimes as guilty, as well as ourselves; even if we are not the hammer to bludgeon the skull of a defenselessly quivering man, we cannot feel innocent filing the paperwork approving the action. To adjudicate our own lives' actions, we must set aside time in our day for consulting a new, contemporary, moral compass. With greater time spent reflecting, we may shed myopia and its cohort ignorance; hopefully, an expanded awareness and culpability will prescribe the good actions we should take. The alternative is to decay into darkness.
2005-03-08 03:10 Update — U.Colorado struck with curse: NY Times 2005.03.07 (registration required, yada yada).
One can only marvel at how the nation's ill-willed mutterings skipped past teflon Churchill and onto president Elizabeth Hoffman for an unrelated sex and alcohol scandal involving recruitment policies of jocks.
Cheers to Churchill despite his inopportunely having had shedded his reticence. Condolences on being forced to step down, Liz.