Deliver us from evil

I just finished reading Sean Hannity‘s latest book, Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism, and while it is certainly focused on politics and foreign policy, past and present, it offered a number of insights I find applicable more generally:

  • I also wonder, why we as a nation have grown so resistant to the very idea of absolute evil. Evil is not a matter of opinion. Evil exists. It is real, and it means to harm us. Thesis: It is our responsibility to recognize and confront evil in the world…if we fail in that mission it will lead us to disaster. You remove evil; you don’t reason with it. Edmund Burke: The only necessary thing for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
  • Moral relativists undermine our moral vision and our moral authority.
  • As observed by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, historically a decline in courage has been the first symptom of the end.
  • It is important to remember, …that throughout history the world’s greatest powers have rarely been conquered from outside without first collapsing from within.
  • Intent vs. interpretation; perception vs. reality
  • Our vision seems to have been blurred by the pervasive cloudiness of morality in our culture. But sometimes, it’s important that we step back, stop overcomplicating things, and see clearly the truth in the experiences we share.
  • Sometimes the actions you take today won’t be understood or appreciated until much later.
  • Unilateralism is itself no crime. Even when others’ counsel is sought, you are responsible for your selection of counselors.
  • Leadership demands responsibility; so, if you don’t make to be held responsible, please don’t lead.
  • I’ve been reawakened to the use of language to conceal meaning (e.g. war vs. crime; outrage vs. tragedy).
  • The lessons of modern history are clear: Accommodation only leads to escalation. The price of indifference can be catastrophic.
  • A policy of preemption (anticipatory self-defense) based on overwhelming proof of intent vs. evidence of capability is a difficult path to travel, but a necessary one at times. For example, today I go to the gym not just for myself, but also for the benefit of my growing son. I want to be able to play ball and to wrestle with him as long as he will have me. I don’t want to make up one morning to the reality that I’ve prematurely removed myself from the game of life. And I’m just talking about a pleasant encounter in the family room, not a bout with a bully
    on the playground or a professional or geographical antagonistic.
  • Accepting the idea of serious restraint is just like the notion that green, yellow and red lights on the road mean go, go faster and stop, if you must. It sounds like a masked acceleration of the status quo. Create a buffer of perceived action, only to continue doing what you’ve been doing. I just hadn’t thought of such color language for my driving habits.
  • Playing Politics at the Water’s Edge (chapter eight) was an especially disturbing read as it revealed a fundamental erosion of trust within the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), within those who appear before the SSCI and within other countries considering the consequences of sharing sensitive information to collaborate on matters of international peace and security. I am reminded how far-reaching my own actions and motives can become–for better or for worse. Trust is not a commodity; it is a precious resource–today more than ever.
  • Back of book jacket: We cannot prevail tomorrow without courageous leadership today. Leadership is my responsibility, too, not just the responsibility of those in political office. It begins with my vote, but must not end there.

Aside: Am I the only the one that actually doesn’t care for either of the following terms: liberal and conservative? Both words have lost their original, intended meaning. Each is now more a pejorative label, a proverbial box to stick, a human brand. I wish that we could all spend more time in honest debate and less time in name calling. As my wife and I like to say, when you assume, you (u) make an ass of yourself (me). It’s so easy to do, though, but the hard work of really understanding another’s views and beliefs–even if you don’t agree with them–is critical, civilized work that must be done.

Update 12/1/2008: For more of my book reviews and to see what else is in my book library (i.e. just the business-related or software-related non-fiction therein), please visit my Books page.

-Craig
http://craigrandall.net/
@craigsmusings