The MORALITY of APOLOGY....
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|Fri, 11-05-2004 - 9:08am|
Kerry spoke of the war in Iraq in a way that indicated to me that he possesses an empathic and sophisticated understanding of our complex world dynamics: An awareness of how our actions, as the world's strongest nation, can create a ripple effect on the rest of the world... and how we have created a self-fulfilling prophesy by attacking a nation already prone to violence without just cause. And because of his understanding and his promises during the convention, I trusted Kerry to un-do some of the damage that has been created by the U.S.'s unjustified invasion of Iraq and I trusted that his approach would have helped to curb the rise in terrorist recruits.
As a psychologist, I work with many "little countries" in my office everyday-- families that are full of hate and blame and warring attitudes... when a parent blames and punishes a child, who is already prone to act out aggressively anyway, for something he actually did NOT do, that kid will often act out worse to show his outrage, if he's genetically pre-wired to act out. And if the parent is unempathic to why the kid feels outraged, and instead, justifies the wrongful blame and punishment by saying: "Well, look at how badly he's behaving now-- he needs to be punished", the parent is setting the kid up for even more acting out.)
I think it's absolutely crazy-making to the Arab world for the U.S. to pin something on the Iraqis (or their dictator) that they're not guilty of... Arabs are sort of like the bad seed in the world's family. And the U.S. is like the big Parent in this world, strong enough to dish out punishments at will or provide love and charity if we desire. I believe that false accusations of Iraq/Saddam primed the Iraqis to take the path that is most natural to them-- violent acting out through their terrorist cause, because they don't have the skill to "use their words". (I cite the genetic research below that explains why some people are more likely to act out with aggression than others.)
When the President shifted the rationale for the war from "imminent threat to the U.S." to the plight of the Iraqi people, that was even more crazy making. There should have been an apology at that point.
Now that the Iraqi people are staging a civil war against each other and a rebellious resistence to U.S. intrusion, the President and many Americans are now using their reaction as the justification for the invasion... "well, look at all those 'terrorists' acting out-- I guess it's a good thing we invaded so we can fight them on their own turf instead of letting it come to us." This justification is even more crazy-making to the Arab people. The Iraqis were minding their own business until we went over and opened up this hornet's nest! Now they're doing what oppressed Muslims do-- they're aggressing... and we help to set them up. (It's not 100% our fault that they've responded this way, but we do bare some culpability.)
Here's the model that explains how some people are more likely to become aggressive than others: Repeatedly, the research has shown that the use of bullying parenting techniques (such as intimidation and pre-emptive aggression) to shape behavior elicits initial behavioral compliance, but is followed up by distrust, aggression, and sociopathic behavior in a large percentage of subjects (Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 1997; 151:761-767). An international team of researchers has discovered a gene that pre-disposes one third of males to aggression, and when abused as children, 85% of these pre-disposed males will turn to violent criminal activity as adults (Science, 297:851-853, 2002). Clearly, among certain segments of the population, bullying and aggression begets more bullying and aggression, creating a never-ending cycle of violence.
What helps kids who have been wrongly punished or accused is a simple "I'm sorry" from their mom and dad and an appreciation for how upsetting it was to be accused of something s/he didn't do... these are healing words from a parent that has made a mistake. I believe that the U.S. is in the parenting role and has a duty to say "we were wrong and we're sorry" to the Iraqi people-- to the sons and daughters that lost their civilian moms and dads... and to the civilian moms and dads that lost their babies. Kerry's words during the convention conveyed to me that he would have made an apology to the world.
The ability to be empathic and the ability to show remorse when you've made a mistake are rudimentary to strong character and to moral development.