There's a disturbing dynamic that occurs on every Manhattan street corner, every minute of every day. By simply watching the typical New York City pedestrian when he or she reaches the corner at a red light, you get a pretty good idea of what it's like to deal with an overcrowded, rancorous metropolitan area on a daily basis: No one waits on the sidewalk.
Even if a thousand cars are racing by, practically every single New Yorker insists on stepping a few steps out into the street while waiting for the light to change. They'll even go as far as squeezing themselves past other impatient street-crossers just to get to the front of the pack. We are so hyped up, so overstressed, so programmed to do everything fast that we can't even endure waiting 30 seconds for a damn traffic light. We'll risk death by stepping off the curb in order to get a head start on the green light.
With this in mind, here's a little thought experiment: Let's say I'm on such a corner as a pedestrian pushes past me-too harried to realize that she is stepping directly into the path of an oncoming SUV. I reach out, grab hold of her jacket, and yank her back to safety...only to realize it was none other than Condoleezza Rice. I wonder: How might that make me feel?
Initially, I hope I'd be gratified to have saved someone's life-even if that someone is responsible, in part, for many thousands of deaths (and counting). Given a few minutes to digest the scenario, I might begin to feel strange. What if I would've known in advance it was Rice whose life was in danger? Would I have risked bodily harm to save her? Condi Rice, in my estimation, is a terrible destructive force, part of the larger culture of destruction. I oppose the death penalty and thus do not wish Rice and her ilk to be removed via state sponsored murder, yet saving her life (or the life of any other major political/corporate player) is, by definition, to doom countless others to misery and death.
If I didn't react swiftly to pull Condi to safety, surely her passing would cause sadness. Friends and family would mourn. People would understandably be devastated, heartbroken. However, Rice's efforts have spread sorrow and mourning on a far greater scale. Has she ever considered the family and friends whose lives have been shattered thanks to her handiwork? Perhaps not, for it was Condoleezza Rice who once opined: "There is nothing wrong with doing something that benefits all humanity, but that is, in a sense, a second-order effect." It's not fantasy to assume that, across the globe, more folks would be celebrating than weeping if we lost the Secretary of State.
Still, of course, she's replaceable (just ask Rummy). There's always another commissar ready to step in and keep the machine running...with or without Condi. Thus, even those most vehemently opposed to American imperialism and interventionism would theoretically not even notice the change. I return to an earlier question: If I would've known in advance it was Condoleezza Rice whose life was in danger, would I have risked bodily harm to save her? On purely human terms, I think I would.
What would you do?