Thirty moral and strong NATO nations let Russia murder innocent Ukrainians, and so we wonder if NATO is actually moral and strong.

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We are thirty kids, moral and strong.

We encircle a playground bully and the subject of his ire.

The bully is beating a girl to a ruddy pulp—only a leg’s length away from us.

We toss the girl a knife—a weapon the bully has too.

We outnumber the bully thirty to one, but we do not directly intervene.


Because the bully is threatening to burn our thirty houses to the ground.

And even though we know where the bully’s house is, and even though we know we can burn his house to cinders too, we won’t risk losing our houses.

And so we watch until the bully kills the girl.

I said before we are thirty kids, moral and strong.

But are we moral?

Are we strong?

And do we let the bully go on to bully again?

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J. H. McKenna (Ph.D.) has taught the history of religius ideas since 1992 at various colleges and since 1999 at the University of California, where he has won teaching awards. He has published in academic...