From sex addiction to “affluenza,” the rich and famous have shamefully demonstrated their ability to abuse the insanity defense and fancy terms that do little than say why they do harmful things in order to avoid consequences. The infamous Ethan Couch was able to find a psychologist and a judge willing to support an “affluenza defense” in order to justify his poor decisions that happened to kill four people. Although millions of teens choose to engage in similar destructive, impulsive, and ill-considered behavior, particularly when it comes to alcohol, driving, and sex, neither they nor Couch are victims of a psychological disorder.
The inability to recognize the consequences of one’s actions is a natural human limitation that is overcome as we age and develop as decision-making creatures. Assuming “affluenza” is truly disease in any sense, the term was intended to describe a cultural deficit created by impulse-driven over-consumption and a lack of immediate consequences for poor financial decisions. In short, it is what happens when any person or animal is shielded from the harsh laws of economics and nature by a glut of resources.
In a world filled with mounting crises that are often driven by conflicting interests, it is easy to divide the globe along political borders, thereby hiding the true nature of global conflicts. Countries have always gone to war against other countries while the enemy of a nation’s People has traditionally been the People of the enemy state. It is, after all, far easier to respond to the hostility of a foreign power by condemning an entire country. In reality, nations are composed of special interest groups with diverging views and interests that often conflict. As such, the condemnation of entire civilizations tends to serve the interests of those who seek to empower themselves through division and conflict.
When it comes to resolving the hostile relationship between Iran and the West, the efforts of Iranians and Western hardliner to sabotage the Iranian Nuclear Deal has been a persistent threat. Meanwhile, there is also a sincere concern that the Iranian government is simply using the guise of a nuclear agreement to free itself of crippling sanctions without changing its threatening policies. News of Iran shipping 25,000lbs of low-enriched uranium to Russia as part of the Nuclear Deal suggests Iran is trying to mend fences; whereas, Iran’s October launch of a medium-range ballistic missile in violation of the agreement is a huge red flag that cannot be ignored.
Queen Victoria’s 2015 Christmas Day address to her British subjects highlighted the triumph of light over darkness. It is, of course, important to remember the 89-year old monarch lived through the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the rise of the Middle Class, the threat of the IRA, and a great deal more. She has seen the light of a brighter future triumph over far darker days.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s spontaneous trip to Pakistan in order to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif represents a sudden shift in the deeply rooted adversarial relationship between the two nations and the very hope the Queen wished to inspire. Although the landmark gesture has already spark controversy among Indians and Pakistanis who share deeply engrained hatred for each other, it is the kind of move that can breaks the irresolvable feud, which has gripped these two populous nations for decades.
Christmas will not bring cheer and hope to the never-ending despair in Somalia. Afraid of reprisal from jihadists, specifically those from local al-Qaeda affiliate Shebab, the religious affairs ministry of this mainly Muslim country has declared any Christmas and New Year celebrations that contradict Islam will be broken up by security forces. Although likely an inevitable decision for a failed-stated struggling to recover and cope with a crippling security situation, legally sanctioned religious persecution and a lack of free speech remind the Western world that cultural rights and personal freedoms should both be treasured and upheld for all.
Not only is the Somalia government unable to protect those expressing their minorities beliefs, fear pushes the very people, who are supposed to protect the rights of their citizens, to be the persecutors. At a time when the Islamic State threat, the Syrian Refugee Crisis, and a whole host of other issues are driving anti-Islamic sentiments and increased division in general, the mistreatment of Christians in Somalia should rally Westerners to protect fundamental civil liberties like freedom of religion and free speech. Where governments like Somalia cannot protect the rights of all their citizens, and many others will not, Westerners and Western governments must be the ones to protect civil liberties of all.
The European Union has extended sanctions punishing Russia for its seizure of Crimea and its role in the Ukraine Crisis by another six months. Although a growing divide between Europeans has undermined a united front against Russian aggression, sanctions were never intended to permanently isolate Russia while there will only be a need to renew sanctions if the Putin government creates that need. The nations of Europe are, of course, the ones that face the greatest threat from a domineering Russia that shows no respect for the sovereign rights of weaker nations, so it is they who will determine if the Putin government must be held accountable for the sake of international security and if the US continues to confront Putin.
That said, the governments and Peoples of Europe will only act to address their collective national security interests, especially when doing so undermines their interests as individual nations, if they see those collective interests are a top priority of all EU members. Nothing undermines the ability of countries to come together like hypocrisy. Indeed, there was great controversy when France refused to cancel the sale of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Russia during the onslaught of the Ukraine Crisis while Greece received flak when flirting with Russia for a handout and negotiating to be part of the Turkish Stream Pipeline after the abandonment of the South Stream pipeline. The so-called Nord Stream 2 pipeline expansion challenges Germany’s commitment to common European interests.
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