Monday, March 7, 2016


Humanity is a synonym for mankind. But it's also a description of a set of values. For instance if you are treating a captured enemy in a humane way, with humanity, you're observing the Geneva Conventions. When ISIS’s beheads their captives or in the case of the Jordanian pilot sets them on fire in a cage, they’re demonstrating behavior that's the direct opposite of normatively humane behavior. Conversely the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions established in both South Africa and Tunisia show that there are humane ways of avoiding the quagmire of retribution. When Republican candidates trade insults, some say it’s just politics, but when the attacks are totally ad hominem such as terming someone a liar or crook, it's the kind of behavior we might regard as lacking in humanity. If it’s not necessarily beheading it’s a form of assassination, at least of character. You may not be killing the person, but you’re trying to kill their reputation. Instead of merely disagreeing with them on an issue you want to deal such a devastating blow that you're eliminating them from the field of competition. It would be like accusing a Tour de France rider of being on steroids. If the atmosphere of at least the Republican primaries is at all telling, this is going to be an election that's lacking in humanity. Instead of discussing the central issues, we're likely to hear about peccadillos. Politics has always been a tough sport, but the bare knuckle combat has gotten to the point where there has been relatively little discussion of substantive issues like health care, the economy, free trade, immigration and the war on terrorism. Boxers are always warned against headhunting which is trying to end a fight with one solid knockout punch since when a fighter throws a haymaker he leaves himself vulnerable to the counter punch. The lack of humanity in the current election is a form of headhunting. The candidates have tried to knock each other out of the ring instead of slowly building up their cases and to continue the fight metaphor, the one to suffer is the audience, humanity, since they’re not getting their money’s worth. The fight’s over before it even starts.

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