Perspective, or the lack thereof, is everything. Tom Odula’s recent AP article in The Advocate explored, as per the headline, the forced circumcisions undergone in Kenya. At least 12 men were compelled to be circumcised since the beginning of the month. The article ignores the fact that there were tens of thousands of forced circumcisions of infants here in the United States during the same period. And while noting that the Kenyan circumcisions were not performed by medical doctor’s with modern instruments, the article fails to make note that each month here in the U.S. there are hundreds of ritual circumcisions, performed by non-physicians with minimal anesthesia and outside of hospitals.

I am not challenging our practices, here. I am only trying to illuminate our ability to focus on the behavior of outsiders while ignoring our own. The article about Kenyan circumcisions highlights our myopic tendencies. We also read with horror of the atrocities committed by terrorists, insurgents and governments in the Middle East, the Ukraine and Africa, but complacently accept as inevitable the daily random acts of violence on our own streets, even though in terms of casualties, the numbers may not be that disparate.

Human life and health abroad are worth no more nor less than life and health here, so a global awareness is critical to a human-based morality. But while viewing the world it is necessary to avoid myopia and to remember, as Walt Kelly’s Pogo pointed out in the Okefenokee Swamp, the enemy is us, not them.

Robert Rivard


New Orleans