A general and responsibility
It is enthralling as it is instructive to listen to a General speak about responsibility. In concept and the attendant fateful consequences, not a great many cares about responsibility. Indeed, it can be safely stated that the majority everywhere don’t give it a thought. Where there is a pang of conscience we fight it, gloss over it or dismiss it as quickly as it comes. Yet, there is no running away from taking responsibility, consciously or unconsciously.
Amidst rising tempers, threats and rhetorics between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, the North Korean strong man, and torrents of opinion articles in publications, print and electronic, a United States General has said he would defile directives by Mr. Trump to launch a nuclear strike which he believes to be illegal. General John Hyten is the U.S. Strategic commander in charge of nuclear operation. He was reported as saying that he would not launch a nuclear strike against North Korea which he believed to be illegal if ordered to do so by President Trump. CBS News quotes him as saying that he does not take the responsibility lightly. “We are not stupid people.”
Speaking at the weekend at Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, the Air Force General was reported to have said: “We think about these things a lot. When you have the responsibility, how do you not think about? If it is illegal guess what will happen? I’m going to say, “Mr. President, that’s illegal.’’ And guess what he’s going to do? He’s going to say, ‘‘what would be good? And we’ll come up with options, with a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situations.”
Some senators are already perturbed by the awesome powers the United States President has to order a nuclear attack on any country. One of the senators, graphically painting a picture of the President’s power, said at a Congressional committee hearing that with the existing codes Mr. Trump can unilaterally launch a nuclear attack “as easily as his Twitter account.”
These are coming amidst renewed justifiable trepidations that should North Korea detonate a hydrogen bomb 90 per cent of the U.S. population would be wiped out, and if it is Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) that is released, it would destroy crucial infrastructures and wreck the U.S.’s economy. It is feared for example that electrical grid would be devastated and internet and telecommunications would go. That would be serious indeed as 73 per cent of Americans are said to be using the internet to connect with the world. As of 2014, the internet generated $966 billion and the economy grew by 110 per cent between 2007 and 2012, as an online publication reports, all because of internet-based economy. At this juncture for me, that is not the issue. The crucial issue is responsibility. How much understanding of it do we have and how much count do we place on it. The Air Force General, John Hyten, says responsibility is not what one takes lightly. It is not a point to be lost on anybody. What then is responsibility? And why do we bear responsibility.
Responsibility means being in a state of being accountable. It could be a duty, an office or the use of a facility. In the case of the Air Force General, the lives of millions of Americans are in his hands, as well as the lives of several other millions outside the frontiers of America on whom a nuclear launch could have incalculable devastating effects. What, for example, with the release of radioactive materials into the atmosphere which can cause physical harm as well as serious environmental pollution. The air would be poisoned. All kinds of deformities even for unborn children could ensue. Most notable is cellular injury called necrosis. Radioactive materials are capable of degrading immunity which can easily lead to cancer and diabetes. The consequences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki since 1952 are ravaging till this day. Responsibility is who accounts for the consequences? It is all who are connected with the incident, the explosion and all—the authority that ordered it, those who carried out the order, and those who rejoiced that the horrendous activity was carried out no matter how distant away from it and the decision leading to it they may be. The legitimate question that arises is why and how is that possible?
For what we intuitively perceive, for what we think, for what we say and do, that is for our thoughts, our speeches and deeds, we make use of the Power of the Most High that flows down from Above. It is a neutral power which we draw to do whatever we like. It can be likened with electric power which if everyone uses. The electric power can be used for constructive or destructive ends. It can be used beneficially to cook, lighten our homes and street to give us pleasure and a sense of security; it can be used to power our air conditioners to cool our abode and offices. And it can be used to electrocute or burn houses. If we use it beneficially, the accountability is in the joy it brings to us and to whoever else may draw from it. If is used irresponsibly for destructive purpose, we call the police so the perpetrator can account before the law of the land. Don’t we account to our employers the way we have used the facilities placed at our disposal? If there is accountability before earthly laws, it should stand to reason that we should be accountable for the way we have used the Power of the Most High.
That power is what is about to be misused in the explosion of a nuclear head, in the wrong use to generate murderous thoughts, in issuing threats and the rhetorics. The higher knowledge now available states clearly that it is each person that bears responsibility for his actions even if he carries them out in the name of the state or in compliance with the higher order of his superiors. It is he alone who in doing so, who has drawn from the Power of the Creator to carry out the orders. Of course, the authority that has given directive is connected as well. It should then follow that each person has to be convinced of the rightness of his actions at all times before carrying them out including the orders of the superiors. Are the orders borne out of love? What are the implications for self and the society at large? Each person is given the free will, a quality of every spirit to exercise freedom to decide. It behoves each person to take his stance courageously since he bears personal and irrevocable responsibility. Once the decision is taken and the acts are carried out, threads are spun and woven into carpets of fate which he must go through and experience, sweet or sour in accordance with the nature of the seed sown. It has been stated in this column that every activity amounts to sowing in the soil of life and the harvest comes in multiples here and in hereafter. We are tied to the harvesting according to Law. The immutable Law of Creation— self-acting and relentless.
General Hyten deserves our thankfulness for his courage to save and protect our world. It cannot be for nothing that a wise one said, “Where there is responsibility there must unquestionably be freedom of decision.” He is conscious of the weighty responsibility of his office not just for the Americans but for the whole world. And he is resolved to reject illegal orders of his President and Commander-in -chief of the United States of America.
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