Letter: Lessons from the horrorby Dr Arthur HartwigNews Weekly
, October 6, 2001
Unfortunately it has taken the recent horror in New York to sheet home to those prepared to learn, the inadequacies and dangers of the ‘mantra' of the 20th Century.
I refer especially to the primacy of "choice", "autonomy" and tolerance.
These concepts, and perhaps others see more, have so stupefied our thinking that we have been unable to see the events of September 11 as but a logical, even if irrational, extension of these beliefs.
Obviously there are actions that should not, must not, be tolerated; choices that must be foregone in the wider interest of the community; "autonomy" that is limited by consideration of the well-being of others.
Equally there must be emphasis on "Justice", real Justice, untarnished by revenge or compensation, for a state or a nation cannot necessarily forgive what each of its citizens can, without descending into chaos where might alone is "right".
If "choice" trumps all other considerations, can we reasonably object when some choose such spectacular suicide? If "autonomy" is supreme, we are at the whim of any with sufficient power or knowledge. Where does tolerance cease?
Obviously it ceases when thousands of lives are lost and incalculable damage is done simultaneously. But where is the dividing line? More lives are lost yearly in the US through road crashes or by abortion than were lost in New York on September 11.
Also it ceases when billions of dollars' worth of damage is inflicted within a very short time span. But how does that compare with the yearly total costs of petty theft, violence and dysfunctional relationships?
So! Does tolerance cease only when national pride is wounded? Or when the magnitude of its consequences is obvious in one horrendous moment?
There are many lessons to be learned from this outrage, not only by US citizens but also by those in all other countries where false gods usurp the throne. Australia might not be high on the list of terrorist targets. Nevertheless we have been warned, if only by recently publicised financial failures not unrelated to our worship of the same false gods.
Some have asked: "why did God allow this?" After we allow for man's cupidity, stupidity, ignorance and arrogance, there is little left for God to explain.
This is not to suggest in any way, any lack of sympathy for all affected. I suggest the Western world has lost its moral way, and that many more will be involved unless there is a rapid and complete return to an active concern for the rights of all others.Dr Arthur Hartwig,