Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The best we can be

There was an interesting letter in the North West Florida Daily News recently, from a Mr Sam Patti who said that -
America needs in the coming election a strong, righteous conservative, Ted Cruz, who means what he says and does what he says.
He will put our country back in the right direction.
I felt that he  may be mistaken, and suggested that an area of concern is Senator Cruz's well-known hostility to the International Court of Justice, despite the use of court processes to resolve international tensions having strong Christian support. In 1917, Pope Benedict XV said
in place of armies there should be substituted arbitration, with its peacemaking function, with norms of agreement and sanctions to be imposed upon states which refuse to submit international questions to arbitration or to accept their adjudication (translation mine).
Benedict himself warned that scorn for the pride and interests of other nations was not free of hazards: "remember that Nations do not die ; humbled and oppressed, they chafe under the yoke imposed upon them, preparing a renewal of the combat, and passing down from generation to generation a mournful heritage of hatred and revenge". Mexico's subsequent treatment of American nationals may well have been a response to the humiliation handed to it in the Avena and Medellin cases.

Crest of Pope Benedict XV
Image from here

Have we conservatives lost part of our sense of what makes us most human?  It was never the case that our side considered its actions should be curbed only by the physical limits on its power.  In a 1943 letter to President Roosevelt, Pope Pius XII - hardly a liberal - condemned even warfare which did not accept limits.  He offered a prayer that "everywhere, as far as humanly possible, the civil populations be spared the horrors of war; that the homes of God’s poor be not laid in ashes; that the little ones and youth, a nation’s hope, be preserved from all harm".  Now?  I find myself doubting that even the mild statement from the United Nation's Security Council that it -
Reiterates that the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons fuel conflict and have devastating impact on the protection of civilians, reiterates its demand that all parties to armed conflict comply strictly with the obligations applicable to them under international humanitarian law, international human rights law and international refugee law, and stresses the need for parties to take all required measures to avoid civilian casualties, respect and protect the civilian population.
- would receive significant support from the National Rifle Association (of which, nevertheless, I remain proudly a member).

Recently, I've spent a certain amount of time looking at posters from the Second World War and the Cold War.  If they have a constant theme in them, it's that the thing that will bring a better world into being will involve making common cause with people who are not like us.
Image from here

It'll involve taking on added burdens beyond those of daily life.

Image from here.
It'll involve giving up our own plans.

Image from here

The worst fault of our left-liberal friends is that too-often they require other people to bear the burden of improving the world (one may condense their slogans to "tax the rich" and "let the Iraqi people endure President Hussein because it's not our war").  The worst fault of conservatives is a refusal to bear the hardest of burdens: the one that makes us give up our pride.

Conservatives should call on Senator Cruz - and every other candidate - to adopt as a starting point that every person affected by his decisions be treated so as to honour the image of God stamped on them.  With some people - illegal immigrants for example - "it might not be as good as we’ll ever feel, but it’s probably as good as we’ll ever be".

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