Walking around New York yesterday, I was struck by something. A pigeon. No just kidding. I was struck by an idea. This idea was that order is an extremely scary illusion. Because no one in New York — for the most part — is in fear of immediate bodily harm, we live in a sort of…jigsaw? Everyone has their own little path that they take from their little apartments, through the streets, on the subways, to various determined destinations fitting together pretty evenly, trying not to break the pattern. But the second, say, an infectious disease were to hit, or another terrorist attack, we would all fucking freak out. The orderly society we think we live in would break down immediately showing that the order never really existed at all — or rather, wasn’t a fixed state in our society.
Catastrophe likely (?) won’t come to New York, but I’ve woken up every morning this week, looked out my window, and thought, “Thank God this day, and on every day before this, that I’m not living in a war zone.” My life has been easy. I never want that to change, although, given how easily order breaks down, it might.
For example, the Ebola case in Dallas. Americans have the perception that we live in an advanced, well-structured society with ironclad borders. That any threat to our personhoods will be stopped immediately by some invisible security force that monitors everybody. But then this guy with Ebola boards a plane directly from the contagion zone. He passes through customs in various airports. He gets sick, goes to the emergency room, and is sent home, even though the staff knew he came from Liberia. By the time he is admitted into the hospital, he may have infected 100 people. No medical workers will go clean the apartment where he was staying. Those quarantined will not stay inside. In essence, order broke down completely effortlessly. There was no invisible hand to guide the situation, keeping everything in check. NSA, big government, immigrations be damned, here is no invisible hand at all.
AGGGHHH!!! This is a break.
I don’t really get the arguments pro-intervention or against-intervention. I wish I could listen to someone really smart argue both sides. In my gut, I’m a complete war hawk. I think that the primary role of the government should be to protect society in whatever ways it has at its disposal — a strong arsenal, a well-trained army, keeping wars in “other” places, not on our own soil. Whether the United States has been remarkable at this because we do have a strong army, or whether it’s because we live in a continent that is something of an island, I do not know. But I do know that I am appreciative that in my lifetime, I’ve lived through a war here — 9/11, for all of its horrors, was only one event, thank god.
I suspect that the war hawks in government, for as much as they are derided by liberals, are on to something. I hate it when liberals dismiss these guys as idiots who don’t know what they’re doing because clearly these guys are not idiots. Like, Karl Rove is brilliant. Is there perhaps a long-term benefit to what, in the present, seems like a very bad, very meaningless foreign policy? I’m asking this question honestly, and I wish someone really smart would answer me.
In the play I saw last week, “Disgrace,” the black female character says that she would rather order than justice, and she sees this only because she has seen dis-order first hand.
I don’t get why we’re fighting ISIS, but given how quickly and easily Ebola was allowed to traverse the world, I don’t doubt that terrorists would do so with the same facility. I believe that we should fight wars in “other” places to prevent this from happening because I am selfish motherfucker who enjoys the illusion of order in my life.