Monday, July 26, 2010

The Ultra-High Price of Arrogance

Recently, if you read the previous post, I was hauled into court. Not as a defendant but on behalf of a defendant. It's an experience I will not forget and have no plans or desire to repeat. However, it's now on my curriculum vitae as life experience. I should quit now since I'm batting a thousand: one win, no losses.

The leadup to the trial baffled me. I expected to be deposed by the other side. I wasn't. The only possible explanation for this unseized opportunity by the other side is arrogance. They thought that they had such a qualified, credible expert witness that they didn't want to give me even the experience and OJT of a deposition before getting me on the stand in court. I'm sure they expected to blow me away like a few dandelion seeds.

They grossly overestimated their own position and grossly underestimated what I knew and could show the jury--and I didn't even get to do a third of it in court.

They were seeking tens of thousands of dollars in damages. They spent several tens of thousands of dollars in getting to the trial. They left without a penny. It was a sad waste of time and money that could have been invested in the businesses on both sides of the conflict.

Lose-lose situation for everybody.

Arrogance. Flat-out arrogance. Well... maybe some ignorance mixed in with it.

Now comes the report of 92K secret U.S. reports on the war in Afghanistan that confirm a similar arrogance and ignorance on the part of our country in this soon-to-be nine-year-old but forgotten war.

It's not news to me, however. I've heard the same thing from a number of guests on Terry Gross' (best interview show in the business IMHO) program "Fresh Air". Two weeks ago at Powell's Books in Portland, Jean and I heard the same in person from author Jere Van Dyk. JVD spent 44 days as a captive of the Taliban. Hence, the title of his book Captive. JVD essentially said:

1. The U.S. has bloody poor intelligence.

2. Ethnic and tribal loyalties rule the day and the territory.

3. Afghanistan is the most corrupt "government" on earth.

4. Making any kind of gunny sack purse out of the sow's ear we have made of Afghanistan will take far longer than both the purse strings and the patience/attention span of current Americans will allow.

We can't stay, and we can't leave. It's become a Humpty-Dumpty deal.

How did we get into such a mess in the first place? Well, you'd probably have to waterboard half the Bush Administration to find out. But maybe we should have been waterboarding ourselves before we ever started the mess in the first place.

Van Dyk pointed to the work of Greg Mortenson and the Central Asia Institute in building schools in some of the most impoverished areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan as being the only real way forward.

Now comes the word that even the wives of some of America's top generals have read Mortenson's story in Three Cups of Tea and have asked their spouses essentially this question: Wouldn't this be a better way than bloodshed, drones and loss of life?

If I had to describe Mortenson's way succinctly, it would be with these words: the way of Christ. I challenge you to read his book and disagree with that assessment.
Several years ago in a home community group of young Christians, I asked this question:

Suppose that after 9/11 instead of essentially calling the U.S. to war, President George W. Bush had gone on national television and radio and read the Beatitudes and called the nation to a campaign of education and an end to poverty among our enemies. What would have been the reaction of the country?

A young woman didn't hesitate a second before replying "outrage".

So I guess the Jesus we profess and have at times been willing to kill for is really a fraud and a fake? Or not... I guess we'll never know until we are for once willing to try, to actually follow the way of Christ and the way of the cross.

But we might have to first declare war on our own arrogance. And ignorance.

I think we call that repentance.

Practice resurrection. Create peace. Amen.


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