Rudyard Kipling wrote “If” which remains one of my favorite poems. Some of our esteemed politicians should read it, although the more corrupt ones wouldn’t even get the gist of it! Kipling wrote many other pieces, and “The Ballad of East and West” is another gem.
Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!
Here is the critical analysis from Wikipedia: “it is indisputable that geographic points of the compass will never meet in this life, but that when two strong men (or equals) meet, the accidents of birth, whether of nationality, race, or family, do not matter at all – the mutual respect such individuals have, each for the character, prowess, and integrity of the other, are their only criteria for judging and accepting one another. Any differences in ethnicity between such individuals are never even considered.”
And don’t many of us from the East and from the West; from the North and from the South feel that way? And wouldn’t it be lovely if all of us did? I guess, at this divisive, polarized and dangerous point on our planet, it is mere wishful thinking!
East and West also comprise many other barriers that are dividing us within nations, as well as with nations against each other, thus creating a bubbling cauldron of our earth. The examples are numerous. One of the many things that are contentious is pervasive corruption. Here is an example that caught my attention on July 30. It was a headline in the Tucson News, originally published by the Associated Press: “No prison for grandson of ex-Virginia governor (Republican John Dalton) in rape case.” Apparently, the young man involved raped a fellow student and got off on a plea which “acknowledges sufficient evidence for conviction without admitting guilt.” Well! The grandson of an ex-governor getting a free pass that no ordinary bloke will ever get? It happens every single day when ordinary people are thrown into our for-profit jails with no recourse, and for years on end, for a much more minor offense than rape.
Besides the 2.3 million humans in US jails (figures from March, 2018), there were 2705 inmates on death row (figures from July 25, 2018. The number changes with new convictions, appeals etc.). Pope Francis recently declared that the Catholic Church is categorically against the Death Penalty. I am too, I consider it as Murder by the State, especially when it is being botched and the victims are invariably dying painfully. While he is to be applauded, Pope Francis has been trying to clean up the messes and wrongdoings of a Catholic Church that is rife with historical and current atrocities. For instance, recently, the Eminent Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, was defamed as a sexual predator and has since been ejected from his position; 5 Chilean bishops resigned over abuse and cover-ups; 71 priests who had led the Church for the past 70 years in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, and who have been accused of child sex abuse, have been likewise discharged; Australian Archbishop, Wilson, resigned after failing to report sexual abuse of a priest, and on it goes. The purging of these predators will continue, as it must, when more and more victims speak up.
The Catholic Church is also coping with many other scandals that are coming to light. Paul Redmond, as one example, who was interviewed on the BBC’s Hardtalk, wrote: The Adoption Machine, about nuns (both Catholic and Protestant) in Ireland, who ran homes for pregnant unmarried girls. After delivering their babies these girls were thrown out, their snatched infants put up for adoptions, actually, more were sold, and those “unsold” babies were then neglected and most died. Redmond, himself, was adopted from a Catholic institution. There were many such establishments in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the US, some run by Churches, others by private institutions. Horror story after horror story from Churches across time preaching piety while sanctioning evil.
However, and despite all the efforts of Pope Francis, his Church is still into meddling with the political affairs of nations, most recently in Nicaragua, and I still remember clearly how President Reagan and Pope John Paul II fomented and supported the revolution in Poland. Irrelevant of whether we are for or against the outcomes of such behavior, it is a fact that the Church was politically involved, as it is in other situations. Therefore, Pope Francis and the Catholic Church cannot speak from both sides of their mouth. They cannot condemn Capital Punishment, while supporting political killings through meddling in other countries. That makes them no different from the Imams who are supporting murder and chaos all the way from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia and Malaysia, or from many political leaders and nations meddling in other countries. Hypocrisy and Corruption seem to be endemic!
Recently, and with the ongoing Mueller Investigation in the US, many of us followed the Manafort and Gates scandal. The corruption of these two characters is astounding. They are into bribery, lies, tax evasion, cover-ups, money-laundering, theft, and the shocking list goes on. What is even more astounding being how they would have gotten away with their wrongdoings had it not been that the Mueller Investigation shed light on them. How many “uncaught” like them are there amongst our rich and famous? Our politicians?
There are many culprits in our world. The Catholic Church is just one of these institutions and organizations; the Justice System in these United States, as well as in many countries on the planet, is another example. However, we are now in the Twenty-first Century with the ability and the tools to dredge up any and all cases of historical and current injustice and misconduct and the power to right them. The religious, governmental and private institutions indulging in evil, as well as gangs, mafias, traffickers, drug cartels, cyber criminals and numerous individuals must be exposed and brought to justice. If you look, you can find examples almost daily on local, national and international news outlets. Such stories are not being disseminated by Russia, China or anyone else in order to divide us. They are true, not fake.
At the end of the day it all goes back to leadership, and the world’s leaders have to decide whether they are to direct and elevate their flocks to a more moral and just path, or whether they will continue speaking from both sides of their mouths as usual; whether they aspire to change the world for the better and really “drain the swamps,” or whether they will continue supporting and fomenting unsavory conduct. Justice cannot be a matter of choice as it often is these days. Picking and Choosing on who gets a pass and who doesn’t is injustice personified. It cannot be one yardstick for the East and another for the West. The gavel has to come down on All Equally: An ex-Governor’s grandson, a bishop, a Manafort, as well as on any of us who commit crimes. It is also up to us, the people, to stand up for what is moral, just and peaceful, rather than continuing to live in our own selfish bubbles and being passive citizens thus, indirectly, abetting the corruption and injustice. We do have a choice! So, too, do all the world’s political, corporate and religious leaders!
1 thought on “East & West”
Excellent essay, Hala!
However, at this point, we need an alien invasion to unify this tired planet and bring its inhabitants to their senses. I have no other hope in any “system” or “leadership.”