Sunday, June 01, 2008

Speed Racer and Disarming our Military

Warning: I'm about to get a little political here...

At risk of sounding like a beauty pageant contestant (laugh with me here), I'm all for world peace. World peace would be nice. It would mean a drop in the cost of goods and services, a drop in gas prices, less places for our boys and gals in the military to have to visit, less innocent people dying, and quicker lines in the security checkpoints at airports. (I don't think it would mean smiling airport security officers, though. They give those guys and gals reverse Botox to keep them glaring.) So, yes, I would love to see a world at peace with itself.

The question isn't "What do I want?" however. It's "what is possible?" As I've grown up and watched life (and observed history), I've paid special attention to human nature. (I have to as a writer because I write about humans. I have to know how they work.) And one of the things I've discovered about humans is that some of them are just plain bad.

I know, I know, many of you might be saying, "Good and bad, isn't that relative? I mean some nations think we're terrorists." And some of you might be saying, "But life isn't black and white. There are shades of grey everywhere." My responses are, "Yes, there are some just all around bad people. I'm not talking about people with major weaknesses. I'm talking Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein--you know, guys who order mass killings of innocent humans. Those kind of people. (And the nations who think we're the terrorists tend to listen to biased news sources.) And yes, I realize there are shades of grey in life. Ignore the grey. I'm talking about the black stuff, the easy stuff--like mass killings of innocent humans for power-hungry purposes or taking over other nations for power-hungry purposes. The kind of stuff that makes all of us want Gandalf and Aragorn to defeat Sauron. The kind of people who want to take freedom away. That kind of black. That kind of bad. That kind of evil--the kind of evil we can all agree on.

I have to observe and study those people because I write epic fantasy. I have to know what makes them tick so I can craft believable evil characters of my own. Here are a couple of things I've discovered about truly bad, evil, twisted people.

  • Evil people exist. Sorry to say that, but they do. And they always will.
  • Evil people break rules. And making more rules isn't going to stop evil people from breaking them. (This is why campaign finance reform is a joke.)
  • Evil people don't negotiate. That or they sign negotiations and break them later. It's just an evil people thing. History has shown it again and again.
  • Evil people try to hurt good people. I don't know why they do this, but they do. They use human shields. They aim their bombs at civilian targets. They kill all the innocents in concentration camps when the soldiers coming to free them are about to raid. You all know the cliched superhero verses villain conflict where the villain threatens a bunch of innocent people, forcing the superhero to save them so the villain can get away? Yeah, it's just art imitating life.
  • Evil people aren't going to follow a nice person's example. They're going to see the nice person as weak. Want an example. Ask a policeman if he's ever caught a mass murderer by laying down his weapon to "set an example." (Again, I'm talking about the dredges of evil here--not the nice guy caught in a bad situation thing.) It certainly didn't work to be nice to Hitler, and being nice to Stalin only got us the Korean War and East Germany. (I know these are blatant generalizations, but I don't have time to go into it.)
  • The only thing that stops evil people seems to be the threat of violence. Remember the school bully? Being kind and nice didn't seem to work, did it? But my dad and his friends once discovered that if they all ganged up on the bully, the bully didn't bug them anymore. Sad isn't it? Having to fight someone to keep him from fighting you. But sometimes it's the only thing that works.

So how do we stop evil people? I see two main methods.

1. A governmental system of checks and balances.
America's system of checks and balances works one a number of levels. It's not perfect, but it's decent. It makes it next to impossible for a dictator to take over without either changing the constitution or creating his own military. Look at the nations with dictators. No checks and balances. This might sound far out, but I believe the world will never sniff "World Peace" until every nation creates for itself a system of checks and balances on its leaders and a free, voting populace with basic rights. (I'm thinking of at least 3 unalienable rights... 10 is good, too.) Why? Not because I think America rocks. (We do, but that's not the point.) Because a system of checks and balances prevents evil people from becoming dictators who try to take over other nations and kill innocent groups of people. This is the reason America puts a premium on helping other nations become democracies. (Or republics--you all know what I mean here.) Helping other nations become democracies with a system of checks and balances helps promote peace.

2. The Speed Racer method of defeating evil.
I know, I know, the Sci-fi Flick Chick is talking about a science fiction and fantasy movie again. For those of you who didn't see Speed Racer (and those of you who did and wished you didn't and tuned out most of the movie), Speed Racer (yes, that's his name) races cars in the future, and discovers that car racing is corrupt. Drivers are paid to fix races, and those drivers who refuse are killed or hurt really bad in races by those who cheat. You know, evil people and the cowards who follow them. Speed Racer and Driver X (don't ask) decide to band together to defeat the corruption, but there are two problems. First the drivers who are corrupt (most of them) cheat and try to hurt/maim/kill drivers who don't during the races. (See "Evil people break rules" up above.) Second, the corrupt business owners and mafia lords send assassins to kill Speed and X.

So how do Speed and X defeat evil? By being better than the rest of the drivers (and better at cheesy martial arts--if you saw the movie, you know what I mean.) And Speed couldn't just be a really good race car driver. He had to be so good that he could beat the other drivers even when they cheated. He had to be that much better than everyone else. That's a pretty hard standard to meet, but someone has to do it if you want to defeat evil.

Unfortunately, what this means is that to defeat evil, the good people have to be stronger than evil people. Why? Because evil cheats. Because evil isn't going to stop unless it gets scared or beaten. To defeat evil, you have to better than evil. Unfortunately, evil tends to use military might to take over nations, heard innocent people into gas chambers, destroy large buildings and those inside with planes. This means our military and the militaries of other Democratic, freedom-loving nations of the world need to be stronger than the militaries of the evil guys. So much stronger that they can defeat the evil guys even when the evil guys cheat. It's a hard standard to meet. It takes money, too.

(Note that there are other methods of defeating evil, including cutting off their dollars, etc., but I'm not getting into those.)

I'm not saying this because I'm violent or because I like war or because I just really groove on fighting. I'm saying it because I've studied the real-life bad guys and evil guys so I can write about them realistically. I'm saying it because I've heard presidential candidates talk about disarming our nation and taking away the very research dollars that keep our nation better than the evil guys who cheat. I've heard certain candidates talking about setting an example by getting rid of our weapons in hopes that other nations will follow. Maybe other nations will, but those aren't the nations I've ever worried about. They've got a system of checks and balances. I worry about the dictators who are evil--the ones who don't follow a good person's example. The ones who control countries without checks and balances. The ones who don't even control countries, i.e. terrorists who fly planes into large buildings and bomb civilian places like subways and train stations.

I'm saying it because an election is coming up and as much as all of us are concerned about rising gas prices and taxes, we need to be just as concerned if not more about keeping our military the best in the world at what it does. Remember the bully at school? Did he ever go after the teachers? No. He went after the weaker kids.

So if I'm ever in a beauty pageant (again, laugh with me--especially the poise part), I won't answer "World Peace." Ever. I'll say, "Better weapons, more money for weapons research, and a stronger military to the democratic nations of the world who desire justice and peace." And then I'd lose because that's just not the right thing to say.

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