Admittedly Inconsistent

My wife is, by far, the more rational of the two of us. She’s compassionate, but rational about compassion. I’m rational, but compassion swallows my rationality and digests it in less than the time it takes my heart to complete a single beat. People who value compassion over even shreds of rationality that might impinge on compassion might label my wife a monster. People who value rationality over even shreds of compassion might label me an idiot; a socialist, communist, moron, dim-wit, imbecile, and then some.

The labels are invalid. They are produced by simians who value descriptions over decency. Their arms drag on the ground. They merit euthanasia, if for no other reason than to put me out of their misery. God, am I that much of a heathen? Am I that harsh and gritty and judgmental? Only partially so. Your job is to figure out which.

Okay, here’s what brought this on. I watched a documentary last night on PBS entitled 120 Days. It followed the story of a guy who, after living ten years in the U.S. as an upstanding “citizen,” was pulled over by the cops for nothing. That notwithstanding, the outcome of his brush with the law was that he was ordered out of the country, under ‘voluntary deportation’ within 120 days. Ultimately, he left, leaving his wife and two daughters behind. And then, a year later, after his family could not make ends meet in the U.S., they too self-deported. It’s a horrendous story that illustrates the lack of compassion that undergirds our immigration system.

On the one hand, I’m a believer in the philosophy that our only true “citizenship” is that we are citizens of planet Earth and should, therefore, be free to roam the planet. On the other, I understand the pressure to protect borders from an onslaught of people seeking shelter from political and/or social repression, hunger, economic depravity, and other forms of oppression. Yeah, but those things wouldn’t exist if the world were truly an open system, a system in which geographic borders did not constrain the free sharing of resources.  I reveal myself as a social idealist, I guess. Yet my darker side reveals my more dangerous, felonious side. I’d happily label 45 and his entire clan as enemies of the State, subject to deportation on sight. Take every speck of wealth and prestige from them and release them naked in an area of the Serengeti least hospitable to human survival, much less health. A guy can dream can’t he?

That paragraph frustrates me. I want to be a better person. I want to value every human life equally to the next. But I can’t bring myself around to do it. The value I place on Donald Trump’s life is equivalent to the value I place on a mosquito. That is, very, very little. I do think there’s an argument to be made that preemptive euthanasia should be legalized by the state, so that certain people who pose threats to the state and its people could be put out of our misery. Yet, I’m fundamentally opposed to the death penalty. Go figure. How can I oppose state murder of certain criminals, yet be perfectly fine with preemptive euthanasia? I suppose it could be explained like this: in the first sense, the state has ostensibly “proven” the defendant has committed a heinous deed. In the latter, the public has witnessed the inherent indecency of the man and can demonstrate, using history as an example, of the danger posed by the monster in question. And that, my friends, is one of the reasons I will never be admitted to the bar.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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