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Archive for the ‘Governance’ Category

I ended Friday’s post with the point that, contrary to what John Cassidy and Barry Ritzholtz assume in their arguments, what is rational is not necessarily good. The blurring of the line between reason and goodness comes, ultimately, from the ascendancy of atheism and, hence, materialism among intellectuals. In place of fundamental and eternally-established goods present in a theistic worldview, materialism turns to reason as capable of determining what’s good. I don’t know where Cassidy and Ritzholtz stand on the existence of God, but they both argue from materialist assumptions. To illustrate the difficulty that causes in seeing how to deal with the sources of the financial crisis, let’s take a look at a few quotations from Cassidy’s arguments.

In explaining the problems with getting cooperative behavior in a prisoner’s dilemma, Cassidy writes:

Attempts to act responsibly and achieve a coöperative solution cannot be sustained, because they leave you vulnerable to exploitation by others. If Citigroup had sat out the credit boom while its rivals made huge profits, Prince would probably have been out of a job earlier. The same goes for individual traders at Wall Street firms. If a trader has one bad quarter, perhaps because he refused to participate in a bubble, the results can be career-threatening.

In these two examples, Cassidy assumes that, at base, the good is self-interest. He notes that Prince would have been out of a job if he did not lead Citigroup into the credit boom and that individual traders who do not participate in bubbles stand to lose their job or see their career prospects damaged. All of those things may be true, but we can see fairly easily that, although the decision of a trader to participate in a bubble may be rational if he has the end of keeping his trading job, it would be irrational if he has the goal of only earning a living through activity that did not lead to long-term harm to himself and others. Indeed, if he has the second goal, his behavior in participating in the bubble would be illogical.

Let’s take another example. Writing about the subprime mortgage boom, Cassidy notes that

…many mortgage companies extended home loans to low- and middle-income applicants who couldn’t afford to repay them. In hindsight, that looks like reckless lending. It didn’t at the time. In most cases, lenders had no intention of holding on to the mortgages they issued. After taking a generous fee for originating the loans, they planned to sell them to Wall Street banks, such as Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, which were in the business of pooling mortgages and using the monthly payments they generated to issue mortgage bonds. When a borrower whose home loan has been “securitized” in this way defaults on his payments, it is the buyer of the mortgage bond who suffers a loss, not the issuer of the mortgage.

Here, Cassidy gives the basic logic of companies giving home loans to people who cannot afford them. (For a first-person account of this logic in action, listen to This American Life, Episode #390, Return to the Giant Pool of Money. The whole episode, really the whole series of episodes about the economic crisis, is great, but the relevant section starts at about 17:05 on my podcast version.) Again, we can call the logic rational, but only if the goal of the mortgage company is to make money on a product that doesn’t have intrinsic value. If we assume that a mortgage company’s goal is to make money by providing loans to people who have a good likelihood of paying them back, then the mortgage companies Cassidy describes were acting completely irrationally.

So, if we cannot judge the goodness of an action by its rationality, we need to have another way of determining whether an action is good. This is where externally-established standards come into play. In a column in last Monday’s New York Times, David Brooks wrote about such standards and the role they have played in American national history. After quoting several statistics about ballooning personal and public debt in the U.S., Brooks makes the following observation and recommendation:

These may seem like dry numbers, mostly of concern to budget wonks. But these numbers are the outward sign of a values shift. If there is to be a correction, it will require a moral and cultural movement.

Our current cultural politics are organized by the obsolete culture war, which has put secular liberals on one side and religious conservatives on the other. But the slide in economic morality afflicted Red and Blue America equally.

If there is to be a movement to restore economic values, it will have to cut across the current taxonomies. Its goal will be to make the U.S. again a producer economy, not a consumer economy. It will champion a return to financial self-restraint, large and small.

In the broad strokes, Brooks is exactly right. We do need a “moral and cultural movement” to confront the shift in values away from discipline and rectitude, and it must be broadly-based. Whoever would like to be a part of that movement would do well to consider these two exhortations from The Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah:

O MY SERVANT! The basest of men are they that yield no fruit on earth. Such men are verily counted as among the dead, nay better are the dead in the sight of God than those idle and worthless souls.

O MY SERVANT! The best of men are they that earn a livelihood by their calling and spend upon themselves and upon their kindred for the love of God, the Lord of all worlds.

Only with such standards in mind can we use rationality to determine which actions are good and which are not.

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John Cassidy at The New Yorker has a post at his new blog, Rational Irrationality, defending his position from an article last week that the financial crisis was caused by individuals making completely rational decisions that, when aggregated at the collective level, turned out to be completely irrational. In the original article, Cassidy explains that the Prisoner’s Dilemma is at the root of the financial crisis, and he’s certainly right about that. Cassidy’s explanation of the basic dynamics of the Prisoner’s Dilemma and their application to business and finance is as good as you’ll find, so I’ll quote it in full here. (Note: Charles Prince was the Citigroup CEO when Citigroup got into the business of CDOs.)

Because financial markets consist of individuals who react to what others are doing, the theories of free-market economics are often less illuminating than the Prisoner’s Dilemma, an analysis of strategic behavior that game theorists associated with the RAND Corporation developed during the early nineteen-fifties. Much of the work done at RAND was initially applied to the logic of nuclear warfare, but it has proved extremely useful in understanding another explosion-prone arena: Wall Street.
Imagine that you and another armed man have been arrested and charged with jointly carrying out a robbery. The two of you are being held and questioned separately, with no means of communicating. You know that, if you both confess, each of you will get ten years in jail, whereas if you both deny the crime you will be charged only with the lesser offense of gun possession, which carries a sentence of just three years in jail. The best scenario for you is if you confess and your partner doesn’t: you’ll be rewarded for your betrayal by being released, and he’ll get a sentence of fifteen years. The worst scenario, accordingly, is if you keep quiet and he confesses.
What should you do? The optimal joint result would require the two of you to keep quiet, so that you both got a light sentence, amounting to a combined six years of jail time. Any other strategy means more collective jail time. But you know that you’re risking the maximum penalty if you keep quiet, because your partner could seize a chance for freedom and betray you. And you know that your partner is bound to be making the same calculation. Hence, the rational strategy, for both of you, is to confess, and serve ten years in jail. In the language of game theory, confessing is a “dominant strategy,” even though it leads to a disastrous outcome.
In a situation like this, what I do affects your welfare; what you do affects mine. The same applies in business…. If Merrill Lynch sets up a hedge fund to invest in collateralized debt obligations, or some other shiny new kind of security, Morgan Stanley will feel obliged to launch a similar fund to keep its wealthy clients from defecting. A hedge fund that eschews an overinflated sector can lag behind its rivals, and lose its major clients. So you can go bust by avoiding a bubble. As Charles Prince and others discovered, there’s no good way out of this dilemma. Attempts to act responsibly and achieve a coöperative solution cannot be sustained, because they leave you vulnerable to exploitation by others. If Citigroup had sat out the credit boom while its rivals made huge profits, Prince would probably have been out of a job earlier. The same goes for individual traders at Wall Street firms. If a trader has one bad quarter, perhaps because he refused to participate in a bubble, the results can be career-threatening.

Following the argument in this last paragraph, Cassidy argues that the situation should be dubbed “rational irrationality,” as the rational behaviors of individual traders or firms leads to irrationality at the collective level. In other words, what’s good for all these individuals ends up being bad for the collective of which they’re a part. In this case, that collective happens to include the rest of us, too.

As Cassidy notes in his follow-up blog post, Barry Ritzholtz disagrees that the individual behavior Cassidy describes is rational. Quoting Cassidy:

Ritholtz writes: “ ‘Rational Irrationality’ asks us to ignore the repercussions of our behaviors. We can rationalize short term gains at the expense of long term losses, because we need to obtain quarterly profits regardless. Apparently, when it bankrupts the company, only then with the benefit of hindsight can we see what went wrong. I am terribly sorry, but that is precisely the sort of thinking that led to the crisis in the first place. Making loans to people who cannot pay them back is not rational when its profitable—its NEVER rational.”

As I mentioned, Cassidy defends himself against Ritzholtz’s argument, and at the risk of having this post be overly long, I’d like to quote the defense at length.

From a macro point of view, Ritholtz is right. Directing capital to people or firms who can’t afford to service it amounts to misallocating resources, and it is a form of market failure. But from a micro point of view, things are very different. Most of the people issuing sub-prime loans were loan officers at mortgage lending firms, such as Ameriquest and New Century, who were paid on commission. Neither they nor their bosses had much interest in whether the borrowers could repay the loans, and for good reason. They were intending to sell them on to Wall Street firms for securitization. If the default rates turned out to be higher than expected, it was the purchasers of sub-prime securities that stood to lose out, not the loan originators.
Now, this was certainly myopic thinking, but it wasn’t irrational. During the good years, some of these brokers racked up seven-figure commissions and bonuses. (See, for example, the excellent account of subprime and Alt-A lending in “Chain of Blame,” by Paul Muolo and Mathew Padila.) To be sure, some (many) of them ended up losing their jobs when the bubble burst, but that doesn’t invalidate the point: pushing sub-prime mortgages onto folks that couldn’t afford them was a lucrative business, and the people who were involved in it it were simply reacting to the price signals that the market was providing to them.
Ritholtz focuses on the role of the Wall Street firms. He writes: “On a risk adjusted basis, the behaviors of Citi, Bear, Lehman, New Century and others was hardly rational. Call it whatever you want, but do not forget this simple fact: It was the sort of narrow, risk-ignoring thinking that is ALWAYS rewarded in the short term, and ALWAYS punished in the long term.”
Sadly, this isn’t true either. During a bubble, the risks are rarely evident. If they were evident, asset prices would adjust and the bubble would pop. From the point of view of a trader, or a CEO, the bigger risk is missing out on the easy money that is to be made. In such an environment, the rational thing to do is surf the bubble.

After reading through this argument, it becomes clear that, at root, Cassidy and Ritzholtz disagree about what the word “rational” means. It’s here that we should step back. Both Cassidy and Ritzholtz think that, for any individual, “rational” means whatever is in that individual’s interests. It’s just that they apply different time frames to the interest. Cassidy thinks that short-term interests often outweigh long-term interests because a person looking at the long term to determine his short-term actions may guarantee that he’s not around for the long term. Ritzholtz, on the other hand, thinks that long-term interests can be seen, at least if one has a sense of history, and must be taken into account in the short term. Hence they disagree about what’s “rational”.

I’d like to suggest that they’re both missing part of the picture. They both assume that to declare something “rational” is to declare it morally good. Because something is rational, however, does not mean it is good. To determine whether a practice — selling CDOs, say — is good, I must have a set of criteria about what constitutes goodness. I may then use rational thought to determine whether a particular practice meets those criteria. But if the criteria are flawed, the practice may be rational — i.e. it may follow logically from or be consistent with the criteria — but it will not be good.

Rather than stretch your post-length tolerance any further, I’ll turn to this point in my next post. If you’d like a hint of what’s to come, you might like to read this op-ed from David Brooks at The New York Times earlier this week.

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David Brooks dedicates his column in today’s New York Times to an encomium for Irving Kristol, a founder of the neoconservative movement and, as Brooks tells it, a participant in most of the important philosophical debates of the twentieth century. I don’t know enough about Kristol and his legacy to comment on the accuracy of Brooks’s description, though I do note that Glenn Greenwald has been less than laudatory of some of Kristol’s positions.

Still, two trends that Brooks cited struck my interest: (1) the purpose of liberty in the Anglo-Scottish Enlightenment; (2) the tendency to think that moral and civic problems can be solved by economic means.

The leaders of the Scottish environment hoped that progress might come gradually and organically — if individuals were given the liberty to develop their own responsible habits and if they themselves built institutions to guide them on their way.

Kristol argued that this was the great seduction of modern politics — to believe that problems that were essentially moral and civic could be solved by economic means. They can’t. Political problems, even many economic problems, are, at heart, ethical and cultural problems. And improving the attitudes and virtues of a nation is, at best, a slow, halting process.

(In the first quotation, I assume that Brooks means Scottish enlightenment, rather than Scottish environment, as he has it.)

In its 1985 statement The Promise of World Peace, the Universal House of Justice addressed the issue of achieving peace on a global level.

The primary challenge in dealing with issues of peace is to raise the context to the level of principle, as distinct from pure pragmatism. For, in essence, peace stems from an inner state supported by a spiritual or moral attitude, and it is chiefly in evoking this attitude that the possibility of enduring solutions can be found.
There are spiritual principles, or what some call human values, by which solutions can be found for every social problem. Any well-intentioned group can in a general sense devise practical solutions to its problems, but good intentions and practical knowledge are usually not enough. The essential merit of spiritual principle is that it not only presents a perspective which harmonizes with that which is immanent in human nature, it also induces an attitude, a dynamic, a will, an aspiration, which facilitate the discovery and implementation of practical measures. Leaders of governments and all in authority would be well served in their efforts to solve problems if they would first seek to identify the principles involved and then be guided by them.

The House of Justice here clarifies an underlying dynamic that Brooks touches on in focusing on individuals’ developing “responsible habits” and in noting that many political and economic problems are, “at heart, ethical and cultural problems.” Indeed, for society to flourish, it is necessary that individuals develop responsible habits, and as the House of Justice indicates, “peace stems from an inner state supported by a spiritual or moral attitude.” The House of Justice goes on to explain that the focus on and use of “spiritual principle” is necessary to resolve economic and political problems. Thus, Brooks (or at least his language) doesn’t go quite far enough in attributing political and economic problems to “ethical and cultural problems.”

If we are to make progress, we must imbue ourselves, our communities, and our institutions with spiritual principles, those moral values that will enable us to avoid disastrous pitfalls and to tackle seemingly intractable problems. If we are to have peace, the ultimate end of social progress, we must cultivate the inner state of peace in the soil of a spiritual attitude.

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At the Millennium Villages blog I mentioned yesterday, John McArthur writes about the need for a new kind of education to tackle the new kinds of challenges we increasingly face.

The world of multisectoral multilateralism requires trained professionals at all levels, across all countries, who are able to connect practical problem-solving across specialized disciplines on a day-to-day basis. Unfortunately, the world does not yet train people for these tasks. Our higher education systems overwhelmingly reward targeted, single discipline studies while so many of the world’s most pressing issues require solutions that draw systematically from insights across disciplines. Specialists remain essential but vastly more people should have at least a basic understanding of the spectrum of topics underpinning core global challenges.

As a solution to this limitation of the current system of education, McArthur and his colleagues have founded a multi-campus Master’s in Development Practice:

We identified a stark need for scientifically savvy policy generalists, practitioners who can bridge the work of specialists through knowledge of four pillars of sustainable development: natural sciences, health sciences, social sciences and management. In academic jargon, one could say that the commission outlined the need for “science-based policy MBAs.”
The Commission recommended a new global form of graduate degree program, a Master’s in Development Practice, to train professionals across the four basic pillars, with an emphasis on practical skills and field training. It also recommended that students practice working in networks across borders and time zones as a normal habit, empowered by simple webcams and cheap software.

No doubt this Master’s degree will enable people to study “useful” sciences, which Baha’u’llah indicates will “redound to the progress and advancement of the people.” If you’re of an age and so inclined, I would certainly recommend the program.

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The Washington Post and The Australian both follow The Guardian‘s Jonathan Freedland, whose op-ed sparked my post yesterday, in asserting a certain level of pessimism about the potential success of the Copenhagen negotiations. The Post sees some silver lining, while the Australian focuses on the big, gray clouds. I’ve just started reading Jeffrey Sachs‘s Common Weath, and Sachs doesn’t share that pessimism, at least in the bigger picture, though he does outline the great necessity of acting on climate change at a global level. (While I was looking up that link for Sachs, I also stumbled across two interesting blogs that I’ll start keeping track of: Millennium Villages and State of the Planet.)

On the topic of the death penalty, which I address here, Hendrik Hertzberg at the New Yorker posts about how the death penalty works, or doesn’t work, in practice. If a process set up in the interests of ensuring justice ensures suffering in practice, perhaps it’s time to re-examine that process.

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In this op-ed, Jonathan Freedland at London’s Guardian newspaper links the current health care debate in the US to the world’s ability to tackle climate change. His basic premise is that if President Obama can’t get the Congress to enact meaningful health care reform, then he won’t be able to get it to agree to whatever targets emerge from the Copenhagen negotiations in November and December this year. (The Copenhagen negotiations will (or will not) establish the set of greenhouse gas emission reduction targets that will be in force once the targets agreed on at Kyoto in 1997 expire in 2012.)

Last November, the sigh of relief among greens and diplomats could be heard around the world. While George Bush had ripped up Kyoto, Obama would surely lead the way to Copenhagen.

Now that early confidence is fading. Those same diplomats and negotiators have seen the president struggle to make what, to outsiders, look like pretty reasonable changes to US healthcare. They have seen a summer campaign demonise him as an amalgam of Stalin, Hitler and Big Brother, bent on sending America’s frail grannies to their deaths in the name of a new socialism. If that’s the response he gets when he suggests Americans should be covered even when they change jobs or get sick, imagine the monstering coming his way if he tells his compatriots they have to start cutting back on the 19 tonnes of CO2 each one of them emits per year (more than twice the amount belched out by the average Brit).

While Freedland is right that today’s national leaders will have a large impact on our planetary ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate their negative effects, he’s wrong to suggest that those leaders are the only people who matter, even in the Copenhagen-heavy short term.

As the Baha’i International Community has stated, the fundamental necessity in solving climate change is “that the principle of the oneness of humankind must become the ruling principle of international life.” The BIC also indicates that the people of the world will need to be engaged at three levels, only one of which is in the functioning of international institutions. The two other levels indicated by the BIC are as follows:

The Individual Level: Engaging children and youth. A fundamental component of resolving the climate change challenge will be the cultivation of values, attitudes and skills that give rise to just and sustainable patterns of human interaction with the environment. The engagement of children and youth will be particularly important as this population will be called upon to exercise leadership and address the dramatic and complex challenges of climate change in the decades to come. It is at a young age that new mindsets and habits can be most effectively cultivated.

The Community Level: Advancing gender equality and engaging religious communities. On the community rests the challenge of providing the setting in which decision-making can occur peacefully and individual capabilities can be channeled through collective action. One of the most pervasive social challenges besetting communities around the world is the marginalization of girls and women – a condition further exacerbated by the impacts of climate change…. It would be a mistake, however, to cast women as the victims or simply as under-resourced members of society; they represent perhaps the greatest source of untapped potential in the global effort to overcome the challenges of climate change. Their responsibilities in families, in communities, as farmers, and as stewards of natural resources make them uniquely positioned to develop strategies for adapting to changing environmental conditions. Women’s distinct knowledge and needs complement those of men, and must be duly considered in all arenas of community decision-making. In light of this reality, the United Nations must give more attention to the gender dimensions of climate change.

As well, religious communities and their leaders bear an inescapable and weighty role in the climate change arena, especially given their tremendous capacity to mobilize public opinion and their extensive reach in the most remote communities around the world…. This role, however, must now unfold in the context of an emerging conversation – a rapprochement – between the discourses of science and religion. The time has come for the entrenched dichotomy between these two systems of knowledge to be earnestly re-examined. Both are needed to mobilize and direct human energies to the resolution of the problem at hand: methods of science facilitate a more objective and systematic approach to problem solving while religion concerns itself with those moral inclinations that motivate action for the common good.

So, wherever you are, you can play a role in addressing climate change as an individual and within your community. Only when we begin to act do we truly demonstrate our consciousness of the oneness of humanity. That consciousness is essential to our survival.

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Last Friday marked the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia. To reflect on those events and their place in the American consciousness, The Washington Post ran an article about a new high school curriculum designed to help students learn about the attacks. Apparently, many of them are too young to remember that day or to know the degree to which it influences American thought and politics today. Despite what that fact says about the level of our public discourse and our ability as a culture to engage young people with important events, I was most struck by the narrative about one student who, for extra credit in Michael Hutchinson’s social studies class in Vincennes, Indiana, interviewed her grandfather about his response that day.

JaLeah Hedrick, 18, had never learned about Sept. 11 in school until she entered Hutchison’s class this week, but consequences of that day surrounded her as she began her pursuit of extra credit. For Hedrick, Sept. 11 was the pledge of allegiance that Vincennes area schools had begun playing over loudspeakers every morning since late 2001. It was the “Threat Level Orange” that she heard each time she visited the Indianapolis airport. It was the way her grandfather, a World War II veteran, grimaced when he spoke of “those Muslims.” It was the USA T-shirt her dad wore when he picked her up from school in an aging Pontiac with a red-white-and-blue license plate inscribed with the phrase “In God We Trust.”

And now, it was homework — due to Hutchison by 1 p.m. Friday.

Hedrick wanted to interview her grandfather Ed Hedrick, because he is a veteran and, she said, “an American hero.” Other classmates were planning to interview fathers serving in Iraq or distant relatives who had worked at the Pentagon, but Ed Hedrick, 83, was the only person his granddaughter knew whose recollections of Sept. 11 might have the gravitas worthy of extra credit.

She rode a mile across town and sat across from her grandfather on his front porch. She pulled a blue notebook and a pink pen from her backpack and then looked at a class handout that provided a list of possible interview questions. “I have to ask you some of these for homework,” she told her grandfather, her eyes still fixed on the sheet. “Where were you when you first heard about the attack?”

“I was sitting in that red chair over there in the living room,” he said.

She nodded and then read the next question. “Did you continue to listen to the radio or watch TV?”

“Yes,” her grandfather said. “I barely moved all week. I couldn’t stop watching.”

“How did it affect you?” she asked.

“Severe anger, for days,” he said.

“What action did you want the government to take?” she asked.

“Well, I guess I wanted them to load up three or four of those H-bombs and send them over there. That’s how I felt at the time.”

Mr. Hedrick’s response struck me because his desire for vengeance mirrored so closely the reaction many of my students had on that clear fall day eight years ago. I remember very clearly my sixth period class. By the time they entered, we had been aware of the attacks for at least three hours. Most of us had watched the plane hit the second tower, had seen the towers collapse, had heard about the destruction at the Pentagon and the crash near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We had had some time to process our emotions. Still, the faces of the juniors entering my class were dark.

We began to discuss their thoughts and feelings, and I was taken aback by the strength of their emotions. As I asked them to consider what they thought we ought to do, one student yelled, “Just go over there and blow ’em all up, just wipe the whole place out!” No matter that he couldn’t say who they were or where we should wipe out, he was hurt and wanted to express that hurt with the most destructive violence he could imagine. This lashing out, as a cursory reading of the news of any day will tell you, is a common response to violence against one’s own. Though it is a thirst for vengeance, it is also the root of the desire for justice, for an evening of the scales of rights done and wrongs inflicted. In her book Payback, transcribed from her Massey Lectures for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Margaret Atwood fixes this pattern within the larger cultural pattern of debts, going back at least to the Code of Hammurabi in ancient Mesopotamia.

Another Washington Post article, this one from Saturday, documents an different response to the tragedy, more in keeping with hindsight and coolness of mind.

Obama designated Sept. 11 a national day of service and encouraged communities across the United States to participate. It was part of a national push to commemorate the attacks through good works.

The Obamas helped paint the living room in a Habitat for Humanity housing project in the Deanwood neighborhood of Northeast Washington. The president opted for a roller; the first lady used a brush.

About 200 volunteers with Greater DC Cares were at RFK Stadium, piecing together quilts to give to children who have parents serving overseas in the military. Douglas Cribbes smoothed an iron across a piece of cloth printed with a photograph of a newborn, whose tiny pink hand held his father’s finger. A team from Rolls-Royce North America of Reston cut, ironed and sewed scraps of fabric into a gift for the little boy.

Harper Holmes and Seven Bloom, both 19, turned up at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bethesda, helping about 45 other volunteers write postcards to service members overseas, sand doors, weed the yard or just clean up. The pair were sixth-graders when the towers fell, and now work with the National Civilian Community Corps, a public service program for young adults.

They’ve spent the past several months traveling across the country doing community service projects. “To see fear turned into a mass uprising of people working for others is amazing,” Bloom said.

Those who strive through these acts of service to transform fear and anger into development and advancement have perhaps a different notion of justice than Mr. Hedrick does. No doubt, theirs is easier to hold eight years after the tragedy than on that day of violence.

In a world where no one nation can claim authority over others or others’ citizens, where the interactions between nations are necessarily the interactions of peers, it is not easy to move away from the tit-for-tat pattern of justice. How is a nation to respond to aggression by another nation or by the citizens of other nations? With no higher authority for appeal, a nation must seemingly use its own power of deterrence. Unfortunately, that power of deterrence is often used out of anger rather than justice. Presidents, prime ministers and kings follow Mr. Hedrick’s feelings and “load up” some bombs.

Baha’u’llah in “Words of Paradise” makes the following exhortation to rulers:

A king who is not deterred by the vainglory of power and authority from observing justice, nor is deprived of the splendours of the day-star of equity by luxury, riches, glory or the marshalling of hosts and legions shall occupy a high rank and a sublime station amongst the Concourse on high. It is incumbent upon everyone to extend aid and to manifest kindness to so noble a soul. Well is it with the king who keepeth a tight hold on the reins of his passion, restraineth his anger and preferreth justice and fairness to injustice and tyranny.

In Tablet of Maqsud, He further commands:

Take heed, O concourse of the rulers of the world! There is no force on earth that can equal in its conquering power the force of justice and wisdom. I, verily, affirm that there is not, and hath never been, a host more mighty than that of justice and wisdom. Blessed is the king who marcheth with the ensign of wisdom unfurled before him, and the battalions of justice massed in his rear. He verily is the ornament that adorneth the brow of peace and the countenance of security.

Perhaps if the rulers of the world restrained their anger to act with justice and combined justice with wisdom in their actions, a new pattern of relations between states would emerge. Then we might imagine a world in which we are not still waging two wars in response to the actions of a small group of terrorists on one day eight years ago.

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