On Wednesday 14th I was listening to a cartoonist, Bruce MacKinnon, talking on CBC Radio about his cartoon of President Trump and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pointing smoking guns at each with a dead Canadian lying between them. This is the obvious reference to the shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 over Tehran; with 176 passengers on the manifest and nearly a third being Canadian.

Bruce MacKinnon

The intent of this little homily needs no explanation. But the discussion around this cartoon did remind me of one my core observations about this universe: we (indeed all) are connected through cause and effect.

Is Donald Trump responsible for this tragedy? Is Ali Khamenei responsible? Is the person who pressed the button responsible? In hindsight, ‘should’ the plane even taken off? These (and many, many more) questions will be asked.

Of course there will be a cry to bring those responsible to account. But here’s a question, if Trump had not ordered the successful assassination of General Qasem Soleimani would flight PS752 have been shot down. Well I suppose it is possible but it seems highly unlikely. Of course the tragedy of PS752 is not Trump’s fault even though his actions led to this event. While Khamenei is a more proximate agent in the downing of PS752, he is not responsible either. I don’t think anyone intended to shoot down an unarmed passenger jet.

When the inevitable safety investigation of this incident is concluded it will take into account likes of whether the proximate agents had followed procedures, were the training and the program adequate? Was the design of the launch equipment satisfactory? Were enough safety protocols in place? Was there enough supervision in place? Were the people involved fit for work (ie enough sleep, healthy, problems at home etc)? Ultimately they are looking for a root cause.

The problem is the root cause is a little nebulous. Of course that won’t stop some group of guys being left out to dry.

But let’s get back to Donald Trump and Ali Khamenei. Without their actions and responses this tragedy most likely would not of happened. So what happened here from a philosophical point of view? Two world leaders whose actions led directly to downing of PS752 and yet they don’t seem to be responsible for the tragedy itself?

So who or what is responsible for Trump; well it could be argued the people who voted for him, the Senators and perhaps Congress who enable Trump. What about the founding fathers in that, in the US the people only get to indirectly elect the president? What about those of us who oppose the President Trump, have we done such an ineffectual job at curtailing his actions and perhaps help widening the polarity in views?

Just as an aside the downing of jet liners is not a new phenomenon. Some examples include: the downing of Korean Airlines KAL 007 by the Soviets in 1983, and more recently in 2014 by the Russian backed rebels in Ukraine, Malaysia Airlines MH17. But then we should not forget Vincennes’ downing of Iran Air IR 655 over the Persian Gulf back in 1988. Apparently various members of the crew got medals for their tour of duty, I must admit I had forgotten about the Vincennes tragedy.

Anyway … my point we live in a connected universe. Our actions have an effect. Our actions will have unintended consequences, some will be seen as negative and some as positive.

It has been argued that there have been three great lies: God, immortality (an afterlife) and free will. I would argue there is a fourth: separateness, we can in some way be separate from the universe and we can ignore this connectivity we see in every moment of our lives.

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