Monday, July 24, 2006


Author's Note:
This a departure from my normal series. It is a pure POLITICAL OPINION piece.
Many are certain NOT to agree with these views.

Citizenship conveys Rights,
but more importantly,
Citizenship demands Responsibilities.

Its been another tragic week in the long tragic history of what is called the Holy Land. In my own times, there have been so many incidents, outrages and outright wars surrounding Israel that they blur together. How can anyone possibly claim that the latest events come as any kind of surprise? Since Israel was created, the whole region has been constantly at a boil. About every 10 years the lid explosively blows off. People in these ancient lands have been killing each other over religion for longer than humans have even had writing to record the history.

How can anyone claim that they could not have expected exactly the type of situation that is currently unfolding in Israel and Lebanon to take place at some point? If not this week, then next week, next month? And the whole bloody mess to repeat itself next year, or the year after that...

When you throw rocks at uniforms with guns - you should absolutely expect to be shot at. When someone fires a rocket across the valley from an apartment block - you should expect the response to be a shell from a tank. If you live in an area that is daily embroiled in the worst kind of violence, that of terrorism, you should not be surprised when you personally catch a piece of it. Any rational adult who has paid even the briefest attention to world events in the last 50 years knows this. If you want to avoid the heat - stay away from the fire.

Those who have left Canada to go into any unstable region - who have chosen to put themselves inside this pressure cooker - must bear some direct responsibility for their own situation. People have deliberately decided to travel, as 'vacation', to a known area of violence. There is a second group, those who have once fled the region, then once safely removed, have then returned to take up residence once again - of their own personal choice. If you desire safety, stay away from the combat zone.

Suddenly now, there is a demand for Canada to extract these same people from the region. To guaranty not only their safely, but unbelievably , of their physical comfort during the process. Endlessly we hear statements demanding servicing of these people's Rights. Yet any mention of Individual Responsibility is never heard.Adults are supposed to be responsible for themselves. People had some justification and obviously the money that allowed them to transport themselves into the region. They were either uneducated, foolish, or naive to think themselves immune to the violence around them. They were just plain stupid not to have an escape route and supplies at hand.

My simple question is this : Why do any of you think as a Canadian Citizen, * I * am now responsible for providing a fast and comfortable rescue to those who chose of their own free will to put themselves at risk in the first place? Those trapped during ill considered travel may have some call on Canada for aid. Those who claim Citizenship, but have now taken residency on troubled ground, do not. To add insult, there have been those individuals who at the same time have demanded the People of Canada provide and pay for their personal safety have also complained about how uncomfortable and inconvenient the rescue was. The alternative was to stay in your 'homeland' and take your chances with the Militants and the Army...
It is ironic that voices that decry any form of funding for the Canadian Military suddenly are the same ones demanding to know why those same ill-equipped forces are unable to respond instantly. Without paying the Piper, you will not hear a tune.

I have heard people who state their association with one or other of the various groups embroiled in the conflict call the others Racist or Anti-Semitic, Terrorist or Police State. By even expressing my own opinion on this issue, I am sure to be be condemmed - considered to be Anti-Immigrant and hopelessly Right Wing. So be it. I've taken my turn wearing the uniform of Canada. I have never been a 'hyphenated' Canadian.
A Citizen is one who Stands, who understands the Responsibility, not the just the Rights.


grondzilla said...

Very clearly and calmly stated. I've had a few sessions recently swearing at the magic box and wondering who these idiots think they are *demanding* that they be allowed the luxury of living/visiting virtual warzones and still be plucked out at a moments notice when things go sour. To me the worst bit is that the recent escalation is/was clearly being signalled and anyone who chose to remain in the region had only themselves to blame.

Steve Muhlberger said...

Can't say I agree with you here. The idea that Beirut was a virtual war zone is out of date and inaccurate. The idea that one of many incidents on the southern border of the country would suddenly result in the bombing of civilian targets in Beirut escaped all the experts, and though I am not an expert, I read a *lot* of international news every day and I was amazed.

Canada's closest ally, the USA, has been promoting the idea that Lebanon is a great peaceful democratic success story since last year. Why wouldn't Canadians believe that Israel, the USA's closest ally, would not attack the peaceful structures of civilian society -- rather than actual Hizbollah fighters -- and go there and do business or take in the sites? Thousands of people from any country where people have any initiative did exactly the same.

On my way back from Europe I sat next to Canadians fleeing Beirut, and they were an awful lot like a lot of other Canadians, they were not long-term expatriates, and they were not whining.

I think our government has an obligation to do its best to rescue distressed Canadians. How much complaining is justified is a matter of opinion. But there seem to be a lot of people in comment forums across the Web willing to condemn thousands of their fellow citizens -- people in actual danger of their lives and caught by surprise like I was -- based on very little information about their actual circumstances.

What kind of Canadian solidarity is that?

grondzilla said...

I hear you Steve. Perhaps it is more of a matter that the Media over here were pretty well flogging nothing but the indignant complaints of people being moved out of the area. Naturally the media love to focus on condemnations rather than those who saw the evacuation process for what it was, complicated and messy.

There may have been the promotion of a 'success story' in general terms by the US (and anyone who was willing to listen) but for the last month as matters became worse and worse in Gaza it seemed pretty obvious from this side that things were on the tipping point. The fact that Lebanon is rife with internal strife should also have been pretty obvious what with the recent bouts of Jiggery Pokery from Syria and (some point fingers to) Iran. And we're talking about the recent past within the last twelve months. The fact that there were something on the order of forty thousand Canadians (of one stripe or another) in Lebanon seems to me a recipe for trouble (at least in terms of how we could deal with them in times of crisis). Where do we draw the lines regarding personal responsibility? I'm not excited about the fact that my country will end up spending tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars on an evacuation effort that started with people making a conscious choice to be somewhere dicey in the first place. I find it hard to buy the notion that all of these people were cheerfully ignorant of the fact that Lebanon is anything but 'stable' and no imposition of will was going to make it so. Maybe I just spend a bit more time keeping an eye on the news but it was quite clear that there has been no shortage of 'roil' beneath the surface in Lebanon and I find it almost impossible to think that anyone who had been there for some time (as it seems is the case with the majority of those Canadians 'visiting') couldn't tell matters were deteriorating.

I'll grant you that there may have been a goodly number of visitors who were truly caught out by events but it beggars the imagination to think that others didn't see the signs and choose, discretion as the wise course.

Darrell Markewitz said...

I do take your main point Steve. It is true that one of the values of Citizanship is the ability to call on the resouces of your nation state in emergency. (Although I will suggest that your example of those you met on the plane more PROVES the point than rejects it. These were people who obviously had some escape plan and executed it with their own resources. They did not wait to be 'saved'.)

For me, the call for massive evacuation, and the responce to what quite frankly has been a demand on the part of many individuals represents 'the straw that broke the cammel's back'. I immeadiately thought of another mass civilian evacuation, that out of Viet Nam in the early 1970's. The image of the helicopter on the roof of the US embasy in Siagon.

Truth is, Canadians are becoming less and less responcible * as a society * for all aspects of their personal choices. Constantly, and ever increasingly, we all see examples of individuals who undertake an action - and then expect SOMEONE ELSE to bail them out or foot the bill.

I'm sorry, but I can not for the life of me understand why anyone would undertake the massive task of leaving a country to escape the conditions there - and then once re-locating to a safe haven deliberately choose to return to live once again inside the area that once drove them away. Worse is that such a person would latter call on that host country under to cloak of 'citizanship' to save them from what was clearly their own personal choice.

Canadians have unfortuneately come to believe that our flag convays some kind of magic shield. We just plain forget that in most conflict areas, especially the power kegs of the Middle East and Africa, it is the WEST that is hated. A white guy with expensive gear speaking English is seen as a representative of 'the Evil Empire'. The fine distinction of Canadian or American is totally invisible.

I doubt you'd dress up and flash your cash in Harlem either. And think anyone who did was 'just asking for it'.


February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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