I remember the somber silence, the slow shaking of the head, the eyes turned down, the look of despair. My great uncle when asked about fighting the Nazis. Eventually I learned his despair wasn't from fighting. His despair was an endless questioning of how fellow humans can fall so low. How someone of the same species who looked so much like his own image can be so broken, allow such atrocities. How?
When the US went to war with Iraq under highly suspect circumstances that were later proven false, hundreds of thousands lost their lives. Our "leaders" said look forward not back. When our drones broke international law murdering persons in other countries, countries we weren't at war with, our "leaders" denied it. When Edward Snowden exposed our government violating our privacy and the constitution, our "leaders" demonized him. When Chelsea Manning and Wikileaks exposed torture, war crimes, financial crimes and corruption at the highest levels our "leaders" persecuted and prosecuted them. We stood by.
When families and children were locked in cages by more than one of our "leaders" we too quickly looked the other way. When thousands of innocents are killed by weapons we supply so we can increase our exports, we check our stock price. When more than a hundred thousand and counting die needlessly from a pandemic due to the failure of previous and current "leaders", we worry about not being able to dine out, get our hair done, go to the beach. When our "leaders" tell us business is more valuable than our fellow man we are satisfied we will still have a supply of hamburgers.
So dear uncle, the answer bears semblance to the wrinkles that adorned your caring face. They come on slowly, we grow accustomed to each new one, and with each new one we look in the mirror less. And when we do study our image, we choose to see the image we knew long ago. This answer comes too late for you uncle. Perhaps the rest of us will learn to more clearly see what is staring back at us.