What matters is doing the right thing now

On Friday I saw two examples of a man faced with a moral decision.

Bill Maher hosted Billy Bush, forever infamous for laughing along with Donald Trump on the Access Hollywood tape, as Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women.  Bush explained why he didn’t stand up to Donald Trump at the time, which basically amounted to fear of losing his job.

Friday was also the 50th anniversary of the My Lai massacre, a war crime committed by the United States in which at least 347 civilians were murdered by U.S. troops.  Many who know of that crime are unaware that an American helicopter pilot, Hugh Thompson, caught the perpetrators in the act and put a stop to it, literally threatening to open fire on U.S. troops if they continued to fire on civilians.

Thompson literally saved the lives of people who were about to be murdered.  And he did so at great cost to himself: he was condemned and harrassed by his fellow soldiers.  But in the moment, he chose to do the right thing.

Bush kept quiet, and kept his comfortable job, by keeping silent when he should have spoken up.  He regrets it now, which is not worth nothing, to be sure, but it’s not really worth much, either.

When a future generations asks what we did to stop the rise of fascism in the U.S., are we going to say we wish we had done more when it counted?


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