The title of this post is Latin for "My horrible fault!" It's used most often in the Catholic faith to indicate that someone is taking blame for a terrible sin, and they're humbly asking forgiveness.
Don't worry, this isn't a post about Catholicism specifically or even religion in general. Instead I'd like to discuss something really broad: cultural differences.
I'm over at Instapundit.com when I notice three
posts that rang
. All of the posts were about journalistic inaccuracies and outright lies. Jeff Soyer at Alphecca has something similar every week where he discusses the media bias against guns
Okay, so the guys who work for Big Journalism twist, spin and lie. What's new?
Nothing, really. But I notice that all of the posts mentioned above want some sort of negative impact to be visited upon those that have tried to push their own agendas at the expense of the truth. This got me to thinking.
One of the main pillars that our culture rests on is the concept of responsibility. You're responsible for your actions. If you screw up you pay the penalty, if it works out you reap the rewards. This is so ingrained in our society that those of you reading this are probably scratching your heads and saying "Well, DUH!" But it's important to realize that this is something that's almost unique in all of history, and it's an idea that really hasn't caught on in the rest of the world.
Case in point is the Arabic news agency, al-Jazeera
. Before, during and after the invasion of Iraq al-Jaz would pump out the most idiotic drivel as if it was the unshakable truth. Our troops were getting slaughtered, the Iraqis were really tough, America was near collapse due to the dissent in our society, Saddam was a nice guy who'd never hurt anyone, blah blah blah. After the dust settled the anti-war people who were using al-Jaz reports to justify their own position were understandably embarrassed, but that was just here in the States and over in the UK. Most of the rest of the world still acts as if al-Jaz is a reputable source, and the agency is still going strong even though it's mostly disappeared from Western news sources.
Okay, so that's the Arabic world. What about something closer to home?
by Stephen den Beste puts it better than I ever could. France is upset that the American government is going to adopt policies that are unfavorable to their interests due to their efforts to thwart us at the UN. They even claim that the US is using the media
to spread lies about them in an effort to enrage the US voters. (Think they might have a point because of the scandals in Big Journalism I mentioned at the beginning of the post? I think that proves that it's really hard to get away with such shenanigans here in the land of the 1st Amendment, and I don't think such efforts to lie would remain hidden for long).
The French have also insisted from the beginning that there would be no drawbacks to opposing what the US people see as being absolutely necessary to gain a measure of physical security. Most Americans who read those reports just couldn't figure that out at all. What the heck are those idiots thinking
??? Of course there's going to be consequences!
Consider European society (or Canada for that matter). They sure pay lip service to some of our core values, but they have a much different take on the situation. Democracy? That means that the voters can go to the polls, but they'll keep going back and voting again and again until they vote in the way the government wants them to. (Example: the way the Treaty of Nice was put up for a vote in Ireland for the second time after the public turned it down
). Personal responsibility? That means that you're expected to lay down and refuse to resist even if you're attacked by criminals
. Don't worry about it. The government will handle it for you! No reason for you to even bother your silly little head about it.
One of the things that was endlessly discussed amongst the crew on the McFaul
was this very subject, except they weren't concerned with the idea of personal responsibility in other countries. Instead they wanted to see more responsibility to be handed down from the Powers That Be. Just about everyone thought that a better, more efficient military force would be gained if people were held accountable. The more responsibility, the better and smoother things would run. Of course they were talking more about punishing the people who blew off work and dodged that responsibility, but I think you get the idea.
The main result of all of this is that people are more likely to take the initiative. If there's rewards for getting the job done in the best way then people will take chances, especially if they realize that the people who they depend on to hold up their end have an interest in avoiding failure. It's just my opinion, but I think that this is the major reason why the US is racing ahead of the rest of the world in just about every area. Technology, theoretical science, culturally, military might and influence in all spheres. There's a reason why American TV shows are shown all over the world, and why I can't find a single French or Italian comedy on any of my 129 cable channels. It's because these guys aren't trying hard enough to get ahead.
This leads to another specious conclusion. The rhetoric and posturing we've seen from France and most of the rest of the world since 9/11 shows which path they've chosen. They're not even trying to improve their own situation, instead they're trying to put the brakes on our own ever growing influence. It's like they've given up and admitted that they're never going to catch up, let alone get ahead.
Makes me glad to be an American.