Democracy has always been a historical rarity.
If we look at human history in terms of frequency and duration, monarchies have prevailed. The historian team of Will and Ariel Durant, after decades of comparative study, considered democracies as “hectic interludes.”
Today, functional democracies are found in relatively few countries. All of them are facing economic chaos rooted in “bread and circuses” voting by politicians seeking reelection and funding from economic interests buying legislative influence. Some democracies are threatened and bullied by more powerful neighbor states seeking control and power to exploit. One, the only democracy in the Middle East, faces an existential threat to its survival–every day of every week.
For those of us not actually living in the live fire zone, or hearing the sirens, or running for the shelters, it is relatively easy to urge diplomacy, reason, and living in peace.
All of us as caring, rational humans (or who think we are, or claim to be), can “take the high road,” so to speak, if we are “here” and have the luxury and comfort of referring to “there.”
Similarly, authors, commentators and bloggers can safely share their perspectives to advocate outcomes for the region and its peoples that represent many of our finest ideals as (allegedly) civilized peoples. Many throb with righteous indignation at one side or the other, metaphorically hand-wringing over the innocents? caught up on both sides.
However, as much as our finest ideals call to us to act on them, in this as in other situations where policies relating to nation-states are involved, we should keep in mind the findings of Will and Ariel Durant, two of the finest historians and historiographers that ever drew breath…
In The Lessons of History (1968), truly a seminal work prepared as they concluded their lives and careers, they noted: “history remains at the bottom a natural selection of the fittest individuals and groups in the struggle wherein goodness receives no favors, misfortunes abound, and the final test is the ability to survive….Nature and history do not agree with our conceptions of good and bad; they define good as that which survives, and bad as that which goes under; and the universe has no prejudice in favor of Christ as against Genghis Khan” (p. 46).
It is a fact, Israel is struggling to survive as a nation-state against enormous odds to the contrary, based on the forces that are arrayed against it.
Israel has no backup plan.
There will be no second chance offered should its leadership fail to place its very survival as its singular priority.
The final test for this resolute people will not be whether or not we agree with their approaches to protect national security, but whether or not those choices and actions enable them to survive as a nation.
Finally, as we consider these issues, we should try to keep in mind that negotiations between people, or nations, in order to be successful, require that both parties truly intend to negotiate. We can debate endlessly about the terms and conditions of good faith negotiations, and who is in the “right” or who is in the “wrong.” However, I believe most people would agree that Hamas showering rockets on civilian population centers is not indicative of good faith negotiations or problem-solving, regardless of one’s opinion regarding the nature and course of the circumstances that brought them to this point. If so, then one might reasonably conclude that negotiations were not seriously intended by the “rocketing party,” but that perhaps other objectives were its priority and objective.
The State of Israel as a “hectic interlude,” perhaps?
© Copyright 2020 Tracy D. Connors