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Is it callous to focus on our problems?


September 11, 2013
Someone told me the other day that I was callous. At first, I was offended; now, I kind of don't know what to think.

We were talking about the situation in Syria ­— where President Bashar al-Assad is accused of a crime against humanity in the use of chemical agent sarin to wage war on his people — and we were discussing whether or not the United States should utilize its military authority to attempt to affect the area's civil war in one direction or another.

To be fair, it was a heavy conversation.

I was called callous because I oppose the United States' involvement to a higher degree than what it has already extended itself. According to preliminary reports from our military leaders, U.S. involvement will not sway the Syrian civil war in a positive direction for the people of Syria and could potentially give factions of Al Qaeda factions within the country a boost.

Don't get me wrong, I believe that what Assad has done to his people is atrocious, but it is no more heinous than what has happened in other parts of the Middle East and in Africa for centuries.

Our country hasn't chosen to invade Darfur, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Congo or any of the other African or Middle Eastern countries that have been torn apart by strife and internal civil war in the last two decades. When South Africa was fighting for freedom from apartheid, it was not the American military that came to the aid of hundreds being killed each month.

Our military had no place there, and, if you look at it objectively, it has no place in Syria.

There is no law that says the United States must take the moral high road and it does not have an obligation to say yes to every request for assistance. Especially those requests which could provide a boon for those who oppose our nation. The United States has put itself in the position of "Big Brother" far too often. We are over-extended, and it shows — not on the front lines, where American men and women fight courageously to continually bring hope to other nations, but here at home.

It is not the duty of the United States government to aid the Syrian people. The obligation is to the people of the United States, and it is a commitment that the government has failed to meet in recent years.

Lowering the colossal national debt, getting the economy up and running, securing the borders, combating a growing drug epidemic, fighting government corruption and putting people back to work should be at the top of the agenda for the government of the United States of America.

Preserving the American people and the American way of life should take precedent, and it has been repeatedly pushed to the bottom of the barrel through gridlock and Congress' inability to meet on anything that even remotely resembles "middle ground."

Believe it or not, the United States is capable of not flexing its many military muscles. You don't believe me?

In Benghazi, when the United States consulate was attacked by rebel forces, there was no talk of "swift and decisive military action." Americans lost their lives in that attack, but the government forgot its responsibility to its people, and the former Secretary of State had the audacity to ask "What difference does it make?" when probed about the incident.

It matters a lot, and if believing that a nation who has hungry children, more than 55 percent of the population enrolled in public assistance programs, inadequate health care coverage, a border with more holes than Swiss cheese and more than 10 years of war under its belt deserves for its government to focus on its people and its systems makes me callous, then, I guess I am.

But, to be honest, to me it's more than that. You can call me every name in the book and that would be fine. I do have sympathy for the people of Syria. I'm neither cold-hearted or without empathy for their plight.

But sympathetic or not, it doesn't change the fact that the United States has a prison system that touts a higher than 80-percent recidivism rate — recidivism means repeat offender — and inmates that are able to receive haircuts, health care, hot meals and a college degree, all at taxpayer expense. Our prisoners are treated better than our elderly. The prison system is more fully funded than the education system. We have inmates with plenty of food but children whose parents can't afford school books and an elderly population that can't afford medication, and they're both going hungry.

I am 27 years old, and since I was a child, I was told that if I was honest and worked hard, I could make something of myself no matter where I came from and what my background was. I would have opportunity because that is the American Dream, right? Opportunity. However, in the words of Hilary Clinton, "What difference does it make?" What does honesty, integrity and hard work matter when society has shown me that it pays more to be a criminal … or a politician.

What does hard work and integrity matter when my government puts fighting for another country's rights to freedom and opportunity above its people's right to work hard and create opportunities?

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  1. print email
    Opinion Article by Staff Writer Leslie Radcliff
    September 14, 2013 | 09:52 AM

    My mail subscription to "The Clarion" is more from habit than a thirst for news, even news from my Southern Indiana roots.

    About the last thing I expect to read in it is succinct political commentary, most especially serious thinking from a young person.

    Some of the "Clarion" readers are probably gathering torches and pitchforks outside Ms. Radcliff's house right now.

    You go girl!

    Michael
  2. print email
    Is it callous to focus on our problems
    September 14, 2013 | 11:24 AM

    Well I guess most of Americans are callous then..including me.

    Pepper L Combs
Barbara Shaw
Schuler Bauer
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