One of the men (they were both large, middle-aged) said to me "I don't care if there's a law, and get out of here before I whup your ass. And I can do it, too." As I say, he was a large, tall guy, and I'm a small old man who probably couldn't whup a party balloon.
Tinker Bell and I walked on, but as I walked it occurred to me that this was a microexample of what's wrong with America. People really do feel that they can do anything they want to, the law doesn't matter. Hyper-independence training has severed the web of rights and obligations that a society needs to have in place to function well. The obligation to social responsibility is gone, all that's left is the perceived right to do whatever feels good at the time. And might makes the right.
I call this a microexample because we can also point to examples at the macro level. Take the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. This was an instance of what US prosecutor Robert Jackson, at the Nuremberg Trials, called the "supreme international crime":
To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.We can say the same for invasions of Haiti, Grenada, Panama, and other places. The point is that because we can "whup their ass," and because nobody can stop us, it's ok for us to do whatever we want.
It's the same with the ongoing torture drama. It may be against international law, but we can do it if it suits us. In fact, a disturbing 40% of Americans said in a recent poll that they agreed with the decision to waterboard prisoners taken in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
And who's going to stop us? President Obama still seems to be resisting the idea of prosecuting the people from the Cheney/Bush gang who enabled and carried out what can only be described as war crimes and crimes against humanity. Perhaps other nations, such as Spain and Germany, will step up and do what we can not.
Hyper-independence training is a mode of enculturation that produces social monsters at the micro and macro levels.