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Today's DemonPosted Tuesday, June 22, 2010, at 10:02 AM
Demonization: To represent as diabolically evil; "the demonization of our enemies." wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
According to a recent article in The Brazil Times, a Colorado man went on "Rambo style solo mission to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden." When located and detained by Pakistan authorities he was suitably armed with sword and pistol, which presumably were to be used to penetrate bin Laden's thousands of fanatical protectors.
We wish him well, but his self-ordained quest was perhaps a bit ill advised.
This is what people do, though, believe that removing one high profile individual will somehow eliminate the evil they represent. In short, we "demonize" a person in the hopes that all evil is embodied in him. It doesn't quite work that way.
In the year I was born, the demons to kill were Hitler and Mussolini, and a lot of people tried to kill them. To do that required first penetrating those thousands who made such evil possible -- the Nazis and Fascist. Absolute world peace did not absolutely follow removing those two particular demons.
It wasn't that long ago that the guy to get was Saddam Hussein. If only we could capture him and, say, hang him, then all would be right with the world. Turns out it wasn't that easy.
Demonizing is, simply, how Americans approach things. Whatever the problems, whatever the catastrophe, find some one person we can blame for it all, take him out, and maybe the problem will go away.
Truth is every leader, for good ends or other, is totally dependent on supporters spread across large panoramas of national identities, personalities, and motivations. In the end the only real way to solve the "demon" problem is deal with the minutia of all the small parts of the vast whole.
The current catastrophe holding our attention is the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. And, as is our way, we've found ourselves a demon to blame -- an Englishman named Tony Hayward. If only we can make him answer for the sins of BP and force him to resign as leader, then the oil spill -- even if not resolved -- will at least drop off the news cycle.
The course of human events indicates evils are never removed from the earth with swords or pistols, or resignations. And, the end of news cycles rarely indicates resolution of problems (when was the last time the Haiti earthquake was lead story?).
The oil spill, as with much of life, was caused because many individuals were motivated by greed or self-promotion. Changing the corporate climate throughout the oil industry will do more good than removing any high profile demons. Winning that war is the only way to avoid the next oil disaster.
Wars are won, problems solved, evils removed by fighting the battle in the particulars -- defeating each foe and solving each issue one at a time. When that is done the "demon" comes to its natural end. It is too bad we never seem capable of fighting righteous battle until some one high profile individual becomes today's demon.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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