Monday, November 28, 2005

Kaunda (now in the blogroll) points out this sad story. A Journey That Ended in Anguish - Los Angeles Times

I'm suspicious myself. I don't see a devout catholic killing himself over other peoples' sins.

Update : here's something on the Carlyle Group for all you conspiracy theorists.

1 comment:

Kaunda said...

It's a good thing people are suspicious about his death. But I'm inclined to take his letter as evidence that he did shoot himself to death.

There is a stream of American identity in this story. My parents were both New Englanders. My dad started out in the textile industry which moved south, so he did and we did. Growing up in the American South was to be an outsider. Outsiders have a peculiar way of seeing what's inside. Mostly I was puzzled growing up, caught between two ways of seeing things.

My brothers and sisters remian in the South while I live in Pennsylvania. My brother was murdered in South Carolina. Reacting to violence like this is tough: there's a real need to know what happened, but also a way in which it never makes sense.

Growing up in the South one of the core ideas I could never quite "get" was honor. It's not that I had no concept of honor, but that my concept wasn't in sync with the rest.

The American South is more militaristic and the notion of honor in the military do correspond more closely to the Southern ideal.

In trying to come to terms with my brother's death two books offered some light. "All God's Children: The Bosket Family and the American Tradition of Violence" by Fox Butterfield; and "The Culture of Honor: The Psychology of Violnece in the South" by Richard Nisbett & Dov Cohen.

Nisbett & Cohen point out that there are many places where Cultures of Honor have emerged. Generally two factors seem important: 1) indivduals are at economic risk from others, 2) the state is weak. And the major characteristic is that individuals are prepared to defend their reputations by resort to violence.

I'm not sure how to express how deeply this sense of honor is felt by many here in the U.S. Westhusings anquish sears my heart with recognition of the pain he was experiencing.

Like I say, I never caught this honor bug myself. But with the recent release of video of American military contractors shooting civilians in the news my stomach turns. A collective madness has overtaken us Americans.

Christopher Hedges a former war correspondent wrote a book "War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning." It's about other people in other lands, but his intended audience was Americans.

I'm not sure we can right ourselves, but if we can it will not be by ourselves alone as Americans. People of goodwill around the world must support each other.