Many of the responses to my July 11 column about the sadness and sickness of the violence in the Middle East are attempting to label me in inaccurate ways; so I thought this column could help define who I am and what I believe. By doing this I hope we’ll keep an ongoing discussion on track, and off personalities.
I am a patriotic American. My family came to this country on the Mayflower. One of my ancestors was Richard Warren, the 12th signer of the Mayflower Compact. My forefathers fought as officers and grunts in the Revolutionary War (American side), the Civil War (Union side) and in World War II and Korea.
My great-grandmother was a full-blooded Seneca Indian. I can figuratively say that I had family on the Mayflower and family that greeted them coming into America. My family has been raping and pillaging itself for more than 300 years. I feel that gives me a unique perspective on the insanity of the Middle East where similar things are happening.
My spirituality ties more closely to my American Indian heritage than my conservative Christian upbringing. If I were to visit Little Big Horn, it would not be to honor General George Custer, who made his reputation slaughtering men, women and children; but to honor the brave Indians who defeated him.
I grew up farming, raising cattle and pigs for human consumption in a small Midwestern farming community. My family helped to “settle” Indiana, moving there in 1837.
I had the mixed blessing of flunking my physical when drafted for the Vietnam War due to hay fever and asthma; I guess they didn’t want me sneezing in foxholes. I did actively protest the stupidity of that conflict, while honoring my 10 good friends who chose to go as Marines.
I am proud and grateful to have the good fortune to be born in the richest, most powerful country in the world. A country where freedom of expression, freedom from and for religion, rights of privacy and merit-based progression are possible more than in any other country in the world.
I believe we have a greater responsibility to the truth because of our privilege. I also believe that failure to live up to that responsibility is the shortest path to the destruction of what we value. So I believe that a robust, open and honest conversation about controversial topics protects the freedom and bounty that we have.
I am a trained scientist with a passion for verifiable truth and fairness. A sense of unfairness is where the article about the “collateral damage” of an Israeli rocket destroying an innocent Palestinian family came from.
In this country we rarely hear any news that is “fair and balanced.” The spin in this country regarding the Middle East is almost completely pro-Israel. This is because of U.S. strategic interests in Israel which relate to oil and world power and because of a powerful, organized pro-Israel lobby. The Palestinian side gets short shrift in the news and in our national conscience.
Full and open discussion of current events is often discouraged by our national leadership in the interest of consolidating power and putting up a “united front.” This same national leadership caters to various fundamentalist groups to maintain their unholy alliance of power under the flag conservatism – although I believe dollars count more for them than philosophical purity. This may work for the short term, but it destroys our credibility as a nation in the long run.
While I am delighted that Saddam Hussein is dethroned, I am saddened that it was done for oil, and even sadder that our national leaders went into that conflict with no concept of how to get out. We do not belong there permanently.
The problem in the Middle East is that those wounds are much fresher – hence much of the hatred held for Israel by those displaced people is close to the emotional surface. Israel is also despised for acting as agents of U.S. strategic interests there.
I do not approve of the terrorism of Hezbollah, the Palestinians, or of the Israelis. I am ashamed that our country is so blindly and shortsightedly accepting the violence there as the cost of our strategic interest.
I am idealistic enough to feel there could be a better way to accomplish the goal of peaceful coexistence of Israel and Palestine. I am pragmatic enough to know that this would be true if we could invest in a longer term perspective that would benefit all concerned, build friendships and be as fair as possible to all concerned.
The whole truth is the foundation of such a process. A one sided conversation is a dead end, not a path to success.
Veterinarian John N. Quick is a 25-year resident of Morgan Hill. He’s been operating the Animal Medical Clinic since 1983. He’s one of the founders of the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center and Furry Friends Foundation.