Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wishful Reality

Some months it’s as if nothing happens like it should – which is a less egotistical statement of the ancient conceit that sets the achievement of my desires, will, and expectations as the measure of or the standard for judging the relevance of events and relationships.

You will immediately recognize where this is headed: the distinction between an objective reality that is “out there” as it is encountered and filtered through the senses to the brain, and an inner reality – the mind’s eye or “I,” so to speak – that is created moment-to-moment from the accumulation of mental and physical experiences.

A hard lesson that “normal” people learn, and the earlier the better, is that the world of “what should be” rarely occurs spontaneously. That happens because in the context of human experience, “should” constitutes a non-physical imperative (as distinct from a physical entity subject to the laws of materials) that is a cognitive judgment of the value of something occurring or not occurring. Sometimes it is possible to affect the propensity or the probability that something that “should” happen actually does, but it is not possible to consistently bend the events and relationships of this exterior reality to conform to the inner construct.

All this came to mind again as I looked over piles of unfiled papers dealing with Guantanamo Bay and the military commissions created by the Bush administration to try the “worst of the worst.” Almost all of the prisoners were handed over to or captured by Americans in Afghanistan.

In Bush’s world, these were people who should be in prison for life if not executed for opposing U.S. forces or in some way being associated with al-Qaeda or the Taliban. But after seven years, one of these “unlawful enemy combatants” pleaded :guilty in a plea bargain and one was found guilty of driving Osama bin Laden – for which he was sentenced to serve only five months in prison over and above the time already served.

Surely, this is not what George Bush expected when he started this ill-conceived “war” and then compounded the situation by violating international laws relating to the treatment of detainees. He leaves office January 20, 2009, but he also leaves his successor a most unpalatable reality that will take years to overcome,


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