So What Is Our Obligation to Our Fellow Citizens of The World Anyway?

 So What Is Our Obligation to Our Fellow Citizens of The World Anyway?This topic of our ultimate responsibility to civilization is on my mind a lot.  I’ve been writing non-stop about how college admissions must serve the nation and not just the individual university because education is the fastest way to broaden and deepen a middle class and a broad and deep middle class equals peace and prosperity well into the future.  I recall years ago hearing a BBC reporter who had covered Sarajevo’s destruction succinctly describe the ultimate tragedy of that war.  He said that if only they’d had one more generation to build their middle class, the war would never had happened “because people who have mortgages and appliances and who send their kids to private schools do not want to do war.”

I hear his voice in my head today and I take that as a warning for America, because whatever we’ve been doing since the 1980s is taking us in the wrong direction.

Colleges routinely give away millions of dollars in merit aid to students who can afford the bill, strategically choosing to invest their own monies to create future major donors, while admitting and not funding needy applicants.  While this strategy makes sense for the individual college and that individual student, it sucks for the nation in the long run.  The gap between haves and have nots hasn’t been this wide since the 1930s.  75% of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck.  The middle class is eroding. Where, exactly, did our sense of The Greater Good go?  And how do we get it back?

In the same vein, I’m listening to the Syria story and thinking about our moral duty as human beings in light of chemical weapons being used on Syrian civilians.  In 1994, I heard a BBC report that a whole unit of Belgian UN peacekeeping soldiers had been murdered in Rwanda after the Rwandan president was killed when his plane was brought down by a surface-to-air missile. This began the Rwandan genocide.  The head of the UN Peacekeepers there, the great Canadian Lt. General Romeo Dallaire whom many consider to be a hero, tried valiantly and unsuccessfully to get the world to intervene.  He saved as many lives as he personally could.  After that war, suffering from severe PTSD, this honorable man tried to commit suicide out of despair for the lives he couldn’t save.  (How come he never got the Noble Peace Prize?)

The US, like the rest of the world, did nothing as one million people (20% of Rwanda’s population) were murdered over the course of 100 days.  That would’ve been the sixth genocide of the 20th century.

In hindsight, Bill Clinton says that this was one of the biggest mistakes of his presidency.

My dear friends Lori Leyden and Rosemary Dowling are in Rwanda as I write this, still working with the orphans of that genocide, kids who are now in their late teens/early 20s, raising money and sending many of them to university.  If only we’d intervened in 1994.  So much human talent lost to the world.  What happened there really was a crime against humanity.

And so it is with Syria today.

My problem is that I don’t know who gassed those poor people in Damascus.  The government?  The rebels as a false flag event?

There is so much disinformation now, so little truth coming out of any government, since business interests seem to trump everything in this period of transition.  I’d like to believe Obama.  I’d like to believe that he cares about the Syrian people and the 1 million children officially suffering from the PTSD resulting from the bombing and mayhem.

I’d like to think that leaders of both of our  parties understand the oneness of all human beings and see the unacceptability of using chemical weapons on anyone.  But I suspect they don’t and deals will be struck where money is to be made.  As Bill Maher says about Americans, “Why are we always the stupid people?”

So instead of murdering entire families at weddings by drone strike, how about we use those drones to stop the use of chemical weapons in Syria?  I do not support war in general, or violence of any kind, but I do believe in drawing the line at weapons of mass destruction.  It should be just as unacceptable to use chemical weapons on this planet as it is to use nuclear ones.  I get that the effects of the former are local and those of the latter spread worldwide.  (And thank God, too, or I’m sure we would’ve had nuclear war by now.)

But there is a serious moral argument to be made by all free people on behalf of those who are not.  Every life is precious and necessary in the same way all living creatures hold their unique places in the ecosystems.

The Prime Directive for Humans should be “No Matter What, Do No Harm and for God’s sake DON’T FU*K THINGS UP”.

I would love to see Obama, on behalf of me and all Americans, destroy those chemical weapon sites and production plants in Syria as well as in our own country with as much attention as we’ve placed on destroying nuclear weapons. Then we might really live up to our reputation as “the home of the brave”.

Less Stress, More Success

"Her book has added to her reputation as a kind of guru of the movement to tame the college admissions frenzy.”
New York Times
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Our book group just read your book and it sparked more conversation than we’ve had in the seven years we’ve been reading together. Being successful professionals with busy lives and even busier children, we’re all trying to figure out how to find the time to just stop and enjoy our lives amidst so much pressure. Some of us find ourselves quoting you to our husbands and kids now, so you are our hero. ;-)
Sophia N. and Nancy R.

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