The Moral Component

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by Joe Tortorici

A furtive private message comes to me on Facebook. The confrontation is in its early stages and I’m poised. “It’s bait! Don’t respond!” counsels a friend.

Okay, I get it. Better to ignore this moron. But wait! He posts another comment! The arrogant bastard!

I hit the ENTER key. Take that! …and welcome to the battle zone.

I wind up no better as I throw around the word “moron” like I own it.

Why is anyone compelled to speak out? Is it worth the angst to argue? Are we required by some unspoken code to stand against a “common” enemy? Who is the common enemy? Does anyone else have a lucid awareness of right or wrong when addressing the extremes of our culture? Point them out, please.

Most religions I know have ceded the moral high-ground to some degree. Each becomes radicalized enough to support a sect, extremist and isolated, until hate is the deity. The Catholic church? Islam? Radical Islam? The Sunni of Syria? The Kurds and the Turks? The “Forever War” of Jews and Arabs that blurs the line between victim and aggressor? The Rohingya of Myanmar have everything in common with the victims of mass-murder at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. The good people of the world continue to suffer for the actions of a few. The only certainty is the human suffering on a primal scale.

But how about those Nazi’s! Huh? The worst, the most extremely xenophobic, the most frightened in our culture are making their presence known…Jesus loves them too. The immorality here is loud and obnoxious. 

Apparently, one of the most common insults hurled among men has to do with homosexuality. A lot of thinly veiled sex-act references and outright name-calling. Really? We’re still at a place where this matters? 

Why are we still fighting a war in Afghanistan? Is it because of politics or oil? Does the West still entertain the fantasy of a final Crusade to take back the Holy Land? We have been there almost seventeen years, lost scores of lives, and spent trillions of dollars. Why is there no end?

As of July 27, 2018, there have been 2,372 U.S. military deaths in the War in Afghanistan. 1,856 of these deaths have been the result of hostile action. 20,320American service members have also been wounded in action during the war. In addition, there were 1,720 U.S. civilian contractor fatalities.”

Neta Crawford, a co-director of the Cost of Wars Project at Brown University, has estimated that total war spending in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2001 is approaching $5 trillion. Of that, roughly $2 trillion is attributable to Afghanistan.” (as of August, 2017)

The next time Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is asked where the money for her progressive agenda will come from, let’s start with the war in Afghanistan. Let’s start with moral priorities instead of the fact she is a young woman, new to the political cage-match of Congress. 

Who am I?

I am Catholic.

I am Jewish.

I am Buddhist.

I am Islamic.

I am Christian.

I am Evangelical.

I am straight.

I am gay.

I am Black.

I am Latino.

I am Italian.

I am a descendant of immigrants.

I read enough to understand the value of critical thinking.

I realize that genuine morality is without bombast.

We in Chicago live pluralism without declaration. Diversity is our way of life. My friend posits the greatest division in America is between urban and rural. Perhaps he is correct. Youth, not aging, may be the nation’s true salvation. My daughters don’t know a world without Roe v. Wade. The notion of women’s rights are a given. To them the word “socialism” means progressive countries with strong social contracts, not the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics! “What the hell is that?” she asks. In young people, there is hope.

Over fifty years of fighting for civil liberties is under assault. I think the attack will fail. The forces of hate are a numeric minority; they can be voted out. They obfuscate truth; we must confront the lies. Civil liberties will survive only if we fight for them.

Speak out. Vote!

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