Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Rebellion, Please

The present interest of the problem of rebellion only springs from the fact that nowadays whole societies have wanted to discard the sacred. We live in an unsacrosanct moment in history. Insurrection is certainly not the sum total of human experience. But history today, with all its storm and strife, compels us to say that rebellion is one of the essential dimensions of man. It is our historic reality. Unless we choose to ignore reality, we must find our values in it. Is it possible to find a rule of conduct outside the realm of religion and its absolute values? That is the question raised by rebellion.

The Rebel, Albert Camus

According to Camus (The Rebel) to rebel is to confirm a positive and universal value. One can rebel against oppression merely for personal reasons and from self-interest; however, the rebel more often views her revolt as part of a larger revolt in the name of the all humanity. Altruism overrides egoism.

His notion has an air of humanist spirituality to it. Revolt is not merely a negative act against oppression, but a positive yes to certain positive universal values. Rebellion asserts the spiritual values of love and reverence for, and trust in humanity.

U.S. foreign policy fails to grasp Camus’s essential point. Other countries and societies have rebelled against U.S. foreign policies. Many have denied this, scratched their heads in bewilderment, or branded the rebellions forms of evil.

Some illusory rebellions are authoritarian fundamentalist religious reactions that deny universal rights including freedom of conscience. They deny human value and positive spirituality despite cloaked in religious values. We see this dangerous trend in the U.S. These are not true rebellions, but forms of resentment, and promote the interests of the few at the expense of the many.

Some popular democratic rebellions, such as that underway in Venezuela, affirm positive values, and promote a different road to democracy than the shallow democracy building policies espoused by the Bush Administration, which has brought the tragic and bizarre spectacle we witness each day in Iraq.

What drives many of Chavez’s detractors crazy is that his popularity has grown since he was first elected. President Bush should be envious if he is not. His popularity does not arise only from a more equitable distribution of oil wealth, but also because he is pushing Venezuela toward a grassroots participatory democracy (see open democracy).

U.S. foreign policy is too often based upon acceptable collateral damage. The value of human life is debased to zero by it. Many view the U.S. as the oppressor. Whether the U.S. is the oppressor or not, we must accept how others view the U.S. and how it views itself. Contrary views abound. The U.S. does not appreciate its own Bill of Rights. Why should others? Seeing people as collateral damage is the rhetoric of the terrorist. “Calling it your job doesn’t make it right, Boss.” Until the U.S. participates in positive rebellions, many will view it as the problem rather than part of the solution.

Just say yes to rebellion, please.

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