A Blogger’s Free and Responsible Search for Truth and Meaning

Being a UU, I know that Unitarian Universalists do not have a creed, but UU communities affirm and promote Seven Principles. The Fourth one, “a free and responsible search for truth and meaning,” is the one that concerns us for this post. I am examining how that principle applies to the body of work that I have produced for this blog, which is a Personal blog. WordPress, which hosts more than 60 million websites including this one, says Personal “is the broadest category and includes blogs about personal topics like politics, music, family, travel, health, you name it.”

Since I started this blog in 2008, there have been 690 posts. There is no way we can examine each one, so let’s take a look at the one that has gotten and continues to get the most hits. The August 19, 2009 post AN EMOTIONAL WILLIAM CALLEY SAYS HE IS SORRY not only continues to get a lot of hits, but continues to get comments from readers.

Former Army Lt. William Calley, the only person convicted of participating in the massacre of hundreds of Vietnamese civilians during the Vietnam War, including a lot of  women and children,  used the occasion of speaking to the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus (Georgia), to apologize for his  role in the war crime.  My report was picked up by the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, carried by all McClatchey newspapers , and fed by the L-E to the Associated Press,  causing it to be reported around the world.

I can’t speak  for others, so I’ll just concentrate on what I  see to be true in the report.  One significant truth to me is that some human beings of any nationallity are capable of unspeakable acts. Another one is that not only are some people incapaable of that, but they will actively oppose those who are.    

 What’s the meaning of the story?  For one thing, to me, it again raises the point that  war is an insane way for nations to resolve conflicts.  For another,  it shows that political leaders can get a lot of people killed unnecessarily and can be disingenuous about justifying their lethal actions.    

I realize that it may have an entirely different truth and meaning for you. Please feel  free to click on the comment button and let me know how you feel about the subject.  I do request that comments be civil, not too profane, and sans name calling. 


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One Response to “A Blogger’s Free and Responsible Search for Truth and Meaning”

  1. Stephen Kennamer Says:

    I teach a course titled “The Anthropology of Evil.” The report of William Calley’s remorse in 2009 struck me as a very important document. From the quotes, Calley’s sincerity seemed manifest. He had always been in my mind an example of what is called by philosophers “moral luck,” meaning that had we not sent our military into Vietnam, Calley would almost to a certainty never have committed a felony in his whole life.

    It appears to me that you are the Dick McMichael whose byline appeared above the article in the Ledger-Enquirer that I accessed at the time, but your blog gives no identification or description of you that I can find, so I would like you to confirm that.

    I would also be interested in your further recollections on a couple of points. My original impression was that Calley suddenly said this at an ordinary Kiwanis Club meeting, but reading your blog indicates that the Kiwanis Club hosted a special gathering at Calley’s instigation — that his remarks were not impromptu but that he wished to say this in a public forum, and he approached the Kiwanis Club in hopes it would provide the venue.

    I remember well that Calley had tremendous public support at the time he was arrested, and I knew that he had returned to his home town and had been accepted. He could have remained silent and his life would have continued as it had before.

    I was strongly moved by reading the original article. Thanks.

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