Tuesday, October 30, 2007



The words revolution and rebellion attract unjust opprobrium. After all,
much of what we identify as peculiarly American is ours by grace of our
predecessors' willingness to revolt in the most militant fashion, and
their imperfect vision has been improved by a long series of rebellions
ranging from the cerebral to the bloody. There is not an American alive
who has not been made better by revolution and rebellion. In fact, the
terms sit close to what it means to human, since it is our species that
has developed the capacity to dramatically change, for better or worse,
its own course without waiting on evolution. No other creature has ever
imagined a possibility as optimistic as democracy or as devastating as a
nuclear explosion, let alone brought them to fruition.

Without revolution and rebellion we would let mating and mutation do
their thing. Instead, regularly dissatisfied with our condition, our
body, our home, and our government we overthrow genetics through
application of imagination, dreams, ambition, skill, perseverance, and
strength. Every new idea is an act of rebellion, every work of art,
every stretch for something we couldn't do before, every question that
begins "what if. . ."

Yet nothing grants us immunity from responsibility for our acts. So if
we are to revolt, rebel, avenge or assuage, our duty is not only to the
course we set but to what we leave in our wake.

Every act in the face of wrong carries twin responsibilities: to end the
evil and to avoid replacing it with another. This twin burden is
analogous to what a doctor confronts when attempting to cure a disease.
There is even a name for medical failure in such cases; the resulting
illness is called iatrogenic - caused by the physician. In politics,
however, we have been taught to believe that simply having good
intentions and an evil foe are sufficient. - Sam Smith


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