My great friend, Mary, responded to my last blog posting with some excellent points that I wanted to share.
Firstly, let it be noted that the article I linked to regarding the Kyoto agreement was not an article written by reporters for the Washington Post, but rather a letter to the editor from the Senior VP and Chief Economist of the American Council for Capital Formation, a conservative organization that tends to favor big business, and whose board of directors includes people from several big businesses who would probably stand to lose big if the U.S. signed on to the Kyoto agreement. It was written in response to an editorial written by the Washington Post which said (among other things) that "the White House may soon be the last institution in Washington that doesn't believe that the threat of climate change requires something more than new adjectives." They pointed to the discovery that a White House official had doctored environmental reports in order to downplay the role of pollution in global warming. This official then retired and (suspiciously) got hired by Exxon. The editorial was mostly focused on supporting legislation to allow Congress to continually re-evaluate the caps on greenhouse gases. I haven't done much research on the topic, but it seems pretty reasonable to me. While I think that the Washington Post often goes out of their way, both in editorials and news articles, to cast Bush in a bad light, I also think it's commendable that they are willing to print a critical letter to the editor, even when it's from such an obviously biased source.
Let it also be noted that my blog posting was written late at night after a week of not much sleep. Most of my other comments were (relatively) well-thought-out, but the Kyoto agreement comments were pretty much off-the-cuff, and I definitely should have dug in a little deeper before making any comments. So thanks, Mary for keeping me in check. You've certainly done more research regarding the Kyoto Protocol and environmentalism in general than I probably ever will, and I welcome your insights.
I do take exception, however, to the implication that I think we should "be allowed to have our own dirty secrets." The point of my posting, as a whole, was to say that I think the world's priorities are pretty messed up. I absolutely do not think we should turn a blind eye to the dealings of our own government. As Jesus said, we oughtn't to be so intent on telling our neighbors about the specks of dust in their eyes that we ignore the beams in our own eyes. But neither do I think it is right that the people all over the world are so very focused on the motes in America's eye that they ignore everything good that America has done. Don't get me wrong--we had ought to strive for perfection. As Jesus pointed out, a shepherd will leave all of his sheep to go and find the one which is lost. We do need to focus on our blemishes, so that we can work on scrubbing them out, but we oughtn't to magnify them to the point of distortion.
Once while I was in the bathroom of a hotel, I noticed they had this nifty little mirror on a swivel arm so that women could see their faces better as they primped themselves. Looking in that mirror, I felt like a blossoming teenager again, self-conscious about every pimple on my face. Then I looked in the regular mirror and realized that I hadn't become ugly overnight; this mirror was just shaped in such a way that I could clearly see every pore on my face. I felt sorry for girls that used that sort of mirror on a regular basis, because it magnified every imperfection to the point that it gave the user a grossly distorted view of themselves.
Looking around in today's world, that is what I see happening to America. We are not perfect, by any means. There are a lot of people who do a lot of selfish, greedy, perverted, and intolerant things. But we've been put under this magnifying glass, and we've made ourselves pretty darn transparent when compared to just about any nation at any other time in history. As a result, we see in ourselves (and the world sees in us) so very many imperfections that it seems at times impossible to feel good about ourselves. But when I study history and gain a more realistic perspective of the world we live in, I can't help but marvel at all that we've got going for us as Americans. I realize that even if a lot of people allow greed and sloth and hatred and perversity to govern their lives, that number dwarfs in comparison to the number of good, upstanding, hard-working, and generous citizens in the United States. And I strongly object to anyone that claims that Americans work to increase the level of liberty in "just the [situations] that make our lives easier."
And you're right, Mary, that the so-called Weapons of Mass Destruction were never found by coalition forces. Despite the fact that the world was convinced at the time that Saddam was hiding--if not actively producing--chemical and/or biological weapons, it has now become evident that by the time we invaded, he'd gotten rid of them in one way or another. But there was never any question whether he had them in the first place, or whether he'd be willing to use them. He had them, and he used them on his own citizens, which is what prompted the U.N. to require a full disclosure of the locations of his remaining weapons. It was his lack of full disclosure that prompted the U.N. to warn him of dire consequences if he did not comply. If nobody did anything when he continued to ignore these warnings, then how could anybody in the world respect the warnings of the United Nations? This is where I see irony in the comments made by these U.N. experts, after the United States has proven the hard way that it's not always right to "take well-founded allegations as proven in the absence of a clear explanation by government." And now they are worried about acting immediately or else "we won't have any credibility left."
Thanks for taking the time to comment, Mary. I hope you'll continue to do so in the future. It's definitely a blessing to have friends who "approach things from a different perspective and belief system." It makes me examine my own beliefs more closely, which is always a good thing.