For Nate ‘Oteka’ Henn

Josh Kron reported a few days ago for the New York Times that a terror cell unleashed a synchronized attack in Kampala, Uganda, killing more than 50 people. The death count now stands at 76. Shabaab, a militant Islamic group with ties to al-Qaeda, claimed credit. Sheik Muktar Abu Zubayr warned of more attacks to come, and the U.S. government pledged additional support to further the work of suppressing the terrorists.

Group action can cause us to lose sight of individuals. In this case, we know that among those killed was Nate ‘Oteka’ Henn, who worked for Invisible Children, a group inspired by the documentary film to work on preventing the abduction of children by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Groups and causes have multivalent moral potential. Henn risked his life to help others, the reverse of those whose cause leads them to take life.

The inviolability of the individual is a most important discovery,  more important than Newton’s discovery of the Law of Gravity. We may not often think of individuality as a discovery but instead view it as something obvious. That is a mistake. Consistently viewing individuals as unique and inviolable requires broad-based cultural support. Even when individuals are recognized, strong forms of collectivism—nationalism, socialism, racism, terrorism—can erase their significance.

Read full post here.

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