The line between good and evil

Joseph Mansfield


How I wish I had been writing in 1989! or whatever year it was that people were saying, The Soviet Union has collapsed.†† Communism is gone.The cold war is over, and we won.


For at that time I said, to anyone who would listen or appear to, God help us now!For without the power of the Soviet Union to balance that of the United States, nothing will restrain the US from becoming an aggressor state and running over other states at will.


It would be satisfaction both bitter and sweet to say today, Look here at how prescient I was in 1989.


But my prescience would better be called common sense.That an unrestrained state will run out of bounds is as obvious as that a scale will tip when weight is removed from one pan but not from the other.


Or is it?As I recall, just a very few souls raised the question of what the US would do without the balance of the USSR.And the question was generally answered that the US would use its power to go about doing good; that we are not the sort of people who would ever use our power selfishly or to the detriment of others.


That was then.Here we are now, systematically destroying a country, liquidating countless of its civilian population, and actively discussing which countries belong on the list of places to do next.


The fundamental error here goes all the way back to the beginnings of New England, to atime in which the ancestors of present Americans got the notion that they were not only a new England but a new Israel, a favored race, a chosen people.A notion which has been handed down to the present day and is widely, if not universally, held among todayís Americans.


It is the notion that allows (very many) Americans to see themselves as Us and everyone else as Them, Philistines, Canaanites, Samaritans, heathens all.This notion lets Americans see themselves, and their institutions and beliefs, as good, and as the standard by which others are measured.This notion lets Americans see others, and their institutions, as bad, to the extent they fail to measure up to the American standard.


The notion of being a chosen people also enables Americans to see themselves as Godís own army, Godís own agent, for imposing American ways (i.e., Godís ways) on the rest of the world.


The fundamental error lies in the division of Us and Them.A Marxist, Hegelian division if there ever was one.Us good.Them bad.


The fundamental error lies in Americansí inability to see that they are not in fact all that different from the rest of the world.That they themselves have some dysfunction in their institutions, just as others do.That they have personal and family problems, just as others do.That their government is corrupt, just as other governments are corrupt.


The fundamental error lies in the American compulsion to see the line between good and evil as passing between them and their friends, on the one side, and the rest of the world, on the other.


For in reality the line between good and evil does not pass between nations, or cultures, or classes, or races, or parties, or families, or men.


The line between good and evil passes through the middle of each human heart.


© 2005 Joseph Mansfield


This piece was written in January 2005 specifically for submission to Lew Rockwellís web page ( Rockwell responded with a kind note, saying he declined to publish this because he felt the points had already been adequately made by others.Of course I disagree; if I had agreed with him I would not have written this piece.Mr Rockwell did ask me to submit more material and suggested an area he would like covered.Overall I think the result is pretty good for a first submission to a prestigious web site.