Whether tribe to tribe, company to company, or nation to nation, much of society quickly reverts to “might is right” to resolve conflict and this familiar path wont end well.
One of the things I can’t help thinking about every time a new war or genocide pops up, as it recently has in Ukraine and Israel, is the illogic of it all, at least if certain assumptions hold true. One assumption is that people are equally human and that being on the other side of a national border or of another religion does not make a person any less human. Another assumption is that killing someone is a bad thing and there is no need to parse the act into “bad” killing like murder or “good” killing like a war between your “good” nation against a “bad” one. One can argue there are no truly good nations based on their past performance, but that can be a topic for another time.
Of course, if someone were running after me with a knife, I would love to have and use a gun to defend myself, but that’s a special case. Is it really the same case as when one country’s leadership sends their sons and daughters (probably not literally their son or daughter) to war against another nation and sets up a playing field for mutual killing in so-called self-defense? Is it the same case when a court of law, who might be biased or mistaken once in a while, sends a person to a gas chamber for their crime of murder or treason? I suppose there are two ways to play this game of life: use the cards with which you are dealt or play a different game. I choose the latter, and I wish more would join me.
To me, the ethical issues are simple and as stated above. The problem is, as nations and even publicly-held corporations, there is an impersonality to it all which grants us immunity to all the bad karma we’d inherit if we ourselves were directly to blame for the damage done. I know of one powerful nation that dropped a couple of bombs that instantly killed over 200,000 civilians. Or that mistakenly invaded a country over purported weapons of mass destruction which led to even more civilian lives lost. When taken in context of the times, such acts probably made perfect sense, at least to the victors, but did they make absolute ethical sense? Each side in war has a litany of justifications for being on the “right” side, usually turning all actions into the justified protection of national security. If someone says “two wrongs don’t make a right” ask your average country’s leader if they agree. If they are honest, they might say 50 wrongs make a right in the interest of “national security.”
In similar fashion, corporations are often happy to fill Planet Earth to overflowing with the waste products of consumerism, bad air and water, and the despair of exploited labor. I say “happy” only because they are maximizing shareholder value and what can be better than that?
Let’s face it. Somehow, as a collective, we love war, we love fighting and most of all we love to be winners. Once we are on that winning side, there is no need to consider ethics, which is even better. Like a nation with a massive military or a corporation with a monopoly, it’s power that speaks, not justice. But here’s the rub: Nations don’t have souls, nor do corporations. Only people do. Shouldn’t we stop relinquishing our power to these amoral entities? Based on past performance, your soul might best be invested in other asset classes.