This is not a matter of “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” Pogo is too gentle for this situation. Dick Cheney has ruined that excuse for us now. We are not ultimately the ones who pulled the trigger. We are the trigger. We are the finger, we are the gun, we are the bullets. We own this, lock, stock and barrel. We did this. We chose this path, we accepted this solution, we took charge of this answer. Anyone who thought war was a valid option, that invading Afghanistan was a good response to 9/11, that violence solves problems, proves resolve, establishes our place among the nations; anyone who simply lives in this democracy, this government of the people and by the people and for the people; anyone of us. We are responsible. We did this. We established the conditions that led to death and abandonment in New Orleans. Cities are not natural conditions, like rivers and mountains. Economic and social systems are not pre-existing conditions like gulf streams and jet streams. Wars are not thunderstorms. We establish them, and we establish the conditions of them, and none of us gets to stand apart from the consequences of our corporate actions and say “J’accuse! You did this!” We can no more abstract ourselves from societal actions than we can abstract ourselves from our own actions. We are not “ultimately the one[s] who pulled the trigger….” We pulled the trigger. We shot the sheriff. We perforated our acquaintance. It turns out we are not intimates of justice; we just know it when we finally see it.
And how we treat it, is not a thing to be proud of.
We chose this. Because we did not choose another path. We chose this. This is our doing. Abu Ghraib. Guantanamo. Iraq. Afghanistan. NSA. The PATRIOT ACT. Our choices. Our doing.
Too great a burden to bear? Then what are we going to do about it?