This column continues a focus on the Golden Rule, of treating others as we wish to be treated. Part one, which printed at the beginning of the month, focused on domestic concerns, whereas this continuation looks at the international arena.
For far too long, we — the U.S. public — have allowed and often encouraged our government to use extreme violence against people who were different from us, especially when we coveted their lands and/or resources. We tended to view the other as inferior, even less than human, and therefore we seemed to think that we were entitled to violate the Golden Rule as well as international and human rights laws.
The genocide against Native American tribes is an early example of our violation of the Golden Rule or the equivalent idea found in Christianity and other religions. Our government and our population acted shamefully against Native Americans, violating most treaties negotiated with them and massacring or starving many tribes. Unfortunately, as the treatment of the Sioux water protectors at Standing Rock demonstrates, we have made little progress in following the Golden Rule toward these fellow humans.
Two further horrific violations of the Golden Rule occurred in the international sphere: 1) against the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century; and 2) in WWII against Germany and Japan, who were themselves also guilty of ghastly crimes.
Regarding the U.S. public, according to J. Robert Oppenheimer, before the approval of the use of the atomic bomb, Secretary of War Henry Stimson expressed dismay at the "appalling" lack of conscience and compassion ushered in by the war. Stimson stated that he was disturbed by the "complacency, the indifference, and the silence with which we greeted the mass bombings in Europe, and, above all, Japan."
The fire bombings of several German cities as well as Tokyo and the use of nuclear weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki showed almost total disregard for civilian lives. In its method of fighting the war, the U.S. had joined Germany, Japan and Britain in committing atrocious war crimes.
More recently, the U.S committed appalling crimes in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia as well as in the Middle East. The illegal and immoral attacks on Iraq have played a major role in creating the disaster currently spreading throughout the Middle East. The U.S. public has generally shown a lack of compassion for the victims of these crimes.
If the message of "peace on Earth" is to have any meaning, all people must realize that the "others" are fellow human beings whose lives have the same value as ours.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.