Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm but the harm does not interest them. -T.S. Eliot, poet (1888-1965)
I found this nice little quotation today. It encapsulates my own opinion on these matters so pithily, concisely and, well, poetically! It could apply to so many of the topics of my blog posts: politics, global warming, the Stolen Generation, misplaced paternalism towards indigenous people, the Iraq War, what makes George Bush tick…
In fact, this nice little quotation even applies to the draconian water restrictions in Victoria at the moment. They are being imposed merely so that the government can feel important and appear to be doing something, but the truth of the matter is that the majority of water use and wastage is in agriculture and industry, so cutting domestic use is essentially pointless and inconveniences everyone hugely. That’s one thing for which I would criticise many greenies of my acquaintance – they say “this is the perfect solution” (eg, wind farms) without looking at the practicalities or the broader picture, and recognising that there are always drawbacks to everything (eg, wind farms are unsightly, create noise pollution and may endanger rare parrots).
No solution to anything is ever going to be perfect. It’s a question of weighing up the bad and the good consequences. Sometimes, despite good intentions, a solution can cause more harm than good.
Going to another current topic, I’m sure the US Republicans thought: “Liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein and force Iraq to become a liberal democracy, that will make things much better.” Um, maybe not.
The situation in Iraq reminds me of Yugoslavia after Tito died. Removing a dictator always seems like a good thing, but when the dictator had been holding vicious sectarian disputes in check by his oppressive regime, the results can be disasterous. By removing the dictator, the lid was taken off the sectarian disputes and all hell broke loose…
As per my previous post, I continue to hope that Saddam is not executed, despite his crimes. I suspect that it is being done for precisely the same reason as the water restrictions; so that people can look like they are doing something important and productive in an otherwise hopeless situation.
Well, latest news is that Saddam was executed anyway. We’ll see whether this is a solution or, as I suspect, a creation of a worse problem.