Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The "Inescapable Network of Mutuality"

It strikes me that the current clash over the outbreak of measles with the "rights" of parents to not vaccinate their children is a perfect demonstration of what Rev. Martin Luther King said back in 1965.
We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. And what affects one directly affects all indirectly.
This is where the conservative argument that freedom is only about individual freedom breaks down. If my child's health is affected by your decision about whether or not to vaccinate your child, we really do live in an "inescapable network of mutuality."

President Obama spoke about this mutuality on a global scale during his speech in Cairo back in 2009.
For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. When innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.

And this is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes -- and, yes, religions -- subjugating one another in pursuit of their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; our progress must be shared.
Whether as a nation or an individual, the truth is that "no man is an island." We can either continue to lie to ourselves about what "freedom" means or recognize the truth of our human condition.
We honor the strivers, the dreamers, the risk- takers, the entrepreneurs who have always been the driving force behind our free enterprise system, the greatest engine of growth and prosperity that the world's ever known.

But we also believe in something called citizenship — citizenship, a word at the very heart of our founding, a word at the very essence of our democracy, the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations.
That's what it means to get to the heart of the matter.

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