The mass shooting of grade school students and teachers in Uvalde, Texas set me to thinking about the Russian officials and citizens who won’t stand up to oppose the evil their soldiers are doing in Ukraine, targeting innocent civilians and civilian infrastructure as they commit horrendous war crimes, systematic crimes against humanity, and genocide.
Over the years, they have acquiesced in accepting the lies and distortions of Russian state propaganda. While directly challenging the authorities was something only a relatively few had the courage to do, in demonstrations where some 10,000 to 20,000 citizens were arrested, many others had or have an inkling about what is really going on in Ukraine. They could have made the effort to find out the truth of what was going on, but passivity in the face of evil seemed to be the easier choice.
Now, as they learn of the over 20,000 Russian soldiers who will not be returning from Ukraine, or will be returning in body bags or caskets, they can seek or face the truth, or simply acquiesce in their government’s lies.
The latter choice is understandable. Not everyone can insist on finding and confronting the truth. Under an authoritarian regime, it is not at all easy to resist evil when it is backed by the power of the state.
In the United States, citizens have much greater freedom of action to oppose the state or actions of officials who fail to stand up and take action against evil.
American citizens have much greater access to independent sources of information, and if they make the effort they can ascertain the facts regarding most situations. Often, however, they simply acquiesce in accepting the truth of the propaganda a particular party or news organization may be putting out.
While citizens in the United States have the power to hold their elected officials to account when they fail to act to oppose evil, they don’t always use it.
It may be easier to simply acquiesce in accepting as true statements and beliefs based more on ideology than on facts. It takes an effort to try to ascertain the facts of a given situation on your own. It may be far easier to simply accept the widespread beliefs of your tribe.
So, both Russians and Americans may acquiesce in the commission of evil by their government officials and legislators, even if it is far easier and less risky for Americans to refuse to do so.
The mass killing of grade school children in Uvalde shows us the face of evil, the face not only of the shooter but also the face of all the elected members of Congress who are unwilling to stand up to the evil and pass legislation to defeat it, or at least greatly diminish its potential impact on our lives and the lives of our children.
Americans are revulsed at each mass shooting, as undoubtedly many Russians are revulsed by the war crimes their sons are committing in their name.
Both mass shootings and war crimes are the fruit of evil, of evil leaders who take their country and their soldiers into a war of aggression, who direct the mass slaughter of civilians and the destruction of cities, or of legislators who fail to pass laws to regulate the sale and use of weapons used for mass killings.
In Russia, officials are compromised, whether by position, money, or power, or simply by fear of losing their position in society if they oppose the evil the state is committing.
In the United States, legislators are compromised, whether by position, money, or power, or simply by fear of losing the next election. They will not back gun control laws which are favored by the great majority of the population, whether because of political contributions from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and others, or because of fear the gun lobby will support opponents in primary or general elections, and will mobilize forces that will cost them the next election.
In both Russia and the United States, it often takes courage to stand up to and oppose established interests and powers-that-be. In the U.S., that would be the courage of elected officials to pass effective gun control legislation. For citizens, the courage required would simply be to organize and to vote to defeat those who enable evil to maintain its grip on our lives.
Every legislator who opposes effective gun regulation should be thrown out of office.
Those who fail to confront evil acquiesce in the evil that results. They enable evil, and become accomplices to evil.
Whether an 18 year-old Russian boy sent off to war to die by evil leaders in an evil cause, or an eight year-old boy or girl gunned down in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, they are both victims of evil.
They are victims of the evil leaders who sent them off to war in Ukraine, or who failed to pass legislation to protect their lives from a school shooter in Uvalde, Texas.
They are both also victims of the citizens who acquiesced, in one way or another, in the evil in the systems that produced or allowed these evil acts.
The Trenchant Observer