By Michael Nickerson
No doubt you’ve heard the tale of the Three Blind Mice: poor little rodents, suffering from what might have been anything from nearsightedness to full macular degeneration, stumbling around until a sadistic spouse of some tired farmer cuts their tails off. Like all nursery rhymes, the first question that comes to mind is, why do we scare our children with such stories? Is it any wonder a bunch of hippies came up with Sesame Street?
But the second question is, why didn’t the silly sods go see an optometrist or, at the very least, open their damn eyes? You never know what you’ll see until you try, right? But that’s scary stuff. Ignorance, as they say, is bliss, and what is ignorance but simply wilful blindness.
And so it goes with the three federal party leaders in Ottawa. Faced with the reality of Middle East conflict and conflict in general, they close their eyes as hard as they can. Stumble around, keep talking, and hope you don’t get your tail hacked off. Inspiring bunch aren’t they?
While the anonymous English troubadour who came up with the blood-laden tale never actually bothered to name the myopic rodents in question, we’re going to update the story and call them Stephen, Thomas, and Justin.
So, children, gather round. There once was a mouse called Stephen, who had a grand vision (pardon the pun) in his tiny rodent mind, a conservative vision: less government, less tax, to each their own. He closed his eyes tight, and wished and wished and wished that it would all come true. But that didn’t work. So he learned that if he kept saying what people wanted to hear, that it did work.
You didn’t have to actually do what you said you would do, like support your military or its veterans or stand up and defend human rights. You just had to say you would. And you didn’t need to be consistent, either. Threaten war with someone one year; ask their permission to help them fight their own civil war the next. Just keep talking because everyone is as blind and ignorant as you. Genius!
So that’s blind mouse number one. Blind mouse number two, Thomas, sees things a little differently (yeah, another pun, so sue me). Thomas has an idea in his head that he can knock that dirty rat (nay mouse) out of office, move in, and enjoy some cheese. And Thomas Mouse has heard some bad things about Stephen Mouse, like that he supported doing something stupid in 2003 that we’ve all since heard was, well, stupid. Thomas decided we shouldn’t do that again.
Why? Because it didn’t work in 2003. Genius!
And this brings us to blind mouse number three: a good-looking little rodent by all accounts, incurably photogenic, or so the sighted claim. This mouse figures the cheese will come to him naturally. He was born to it after all; just wait and all the rest of the mice will carry him to his rightful block of cheddar. Lazy!
So Justin the mouse really doesn’t say much at all, leaving it to a far older and wiser member of the Liberal burrow to explain things for him. And while his uncle Chrétien was right to speak of the need for substantial humanitarian aid to help ease the symptoms of war, he still doesn’t see, nor did he ever see the big picture.
Blind mice can’t do that. If they ever had the courage to get their eyesight sorted out, they’d see that air strikes and aid are nothing more than lances and plasters to soothe a dying patient. The stark reality for anyone who has the guts to see it is that conflict resolution involves massive investment: emotional, physical, and monetary. That means a commitment to an engaged, balanced foreign policy that puts ideology and pandering to the home crowd aside to achieve ongoing dialogue. It means investing in a strong military to be prepared for the worst, put substance behind the words, and help enforce the peace if it is ever achieved. It means not token humanitarian effort and aid, but substantial effort and aid.
All of that costs. It costs a lot, far more than any budget surplus or tax break will ever allow. But don’t expect a bunch of nearsighted mice wrapped in ideology, ambition, or divine right to admit to that, much less point it out to anyone. There’s the cheese to consider, after all. Loss of body parts be damned.