Category Archives: Religion
Immortal Bach translated:
Come sweet death, come blessed rest!
Come lead me to peace.
EQUALITY AND TOLERANCE PROMOTED HERE
The U.S.-led Afghanistan war is 10 years old today. As Americans protest on Wall Street and even Wichita, the longest war in our history passes quietly.
On Oct. 7, 2001, President George W. Bush told Americans that “their patience would be tested in the months ahead.”
Ten years on, there are more than 10 times as many U.S. troops there as when the war began. And a majority of Americans now say the war is not worth fighting.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “Almost half of the population of Afghans is younger than 15 and have little or no firsthand memories of the day. Older Afghans seem to feel the war, which ended Taliban rule, has moved beyond its original intent.”
Although President Obama plans to withdraw 10,000 troops this year, few people know the facts. Numbers like these;- $1.28 trillion,- 1,801 U.S. troops killed, 11, 200 Afghan civilians killed. These numbers, even when seen and heard, have little effect on people today.
Are we so desensitized by ongoing war, political bickering, and the world’s poor economy that we forget?
Didn’t we go there with intentions to make the world a better place and help those oppressed by the Taliban?
Of course, I do not have the answers, only doubts and questions. I do know one thing in my heart; might, power and money do not make anyone’s point of view more correct than another’s, but only serve to hide the truth…. and, history repeats itself.
PRAY FOR PEA CE
This is a poster that hangs in my bedroom. It’s the real thing, printed in 1969.
For those readers who are not old enough to remember, there was something you don’t see today; real, honest reporting directly from the war-front & great journalism by people like Walter Cronkite, always accompanied by the nightly “body count”.
Printed at the bottom: All statistics from Department of Defense – March 1, 1969
- Ten years on, McChrystal says US still does not understand Afghanistan (colonel6.com)
- Afghan war hits 10-year mark to little fanfare (cbsnews.com)
- Taliban propped up by Pakistan, says Karzai (independent.co.uk)
- Karzai: Pakistan Props Up Taliban (huffingtonpost.com)
- Afghans demand immediate U.S., NATO pullout (cbsnews.com)
Through the global dialog and participation of thousands now, and millions in the future, we are reconstructing the core principles of our faith, those based on the gospel of Jesus, one founded on hope, love, and charity, healing, and building community.
Having initiated the process of deconstructing the idea in many people’s minds of Christians as wild-eyed Crusaders, we as liberals are also confronted with secular myths, in particular the myths of war. Even ardent, good, honest, hard-working liberals carry myths to justify war. The most common myth of war is that it is inevitable. Christians have many historical examples of love conquering the mightiest foes. Christ himself advocated peace, and even healed the ear of the Roman that was hewn. Ghandi drove out the British without firing a shot. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired a nation to confront the evil of racism. The lone Chinese man stopped a tank in Tianamen square holding nothing but a briefcase.
Our task, as those inspired by a bold vision of peace, is to provide a viable path to end war forever. This path must adhere to non-violent, Christian means, otherwise the end will be for naught. As we have deconstructed the good and the bad in the past of Christianity and constructed a new future advocating for the ill, the hungry, the war weary, the aged, and the children, we will deconstruct the past myths of war and create a future of peace.
A Practical Plan for Peace – Global Incremental Mutually Verifiable Arms Reduction (GIMVAR)
Ending war will entail assiduous and sustained effort from people in all areas of society. Without question, peace is predicated on a widespread, grassroots movement from all parts of the globe in all areas of political, economic, and civil society. On the surface, a global citizens movement demanding peace seems untenable. After all, so many conflicts rage across the globe. We have violence in every continent. The Saudi government sends troops invade Bahrain to suppress the people’s call for justice. The Americans are in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen. Turkey is bombing the Kurds. We see war in Chechnya, and Somalia. We see the threat of war in Ossetia and Iran.
Nevertheless, wherever conflicts erupt the civilians want peace. One of the missions of this essay is to inspire Christians large and small, of all denominations, and of all nations to act upon that sentiment and take bold action to stop the wars in which their governments fight.
Global arms reduction has several components the most important of which is reducing the dollar amount of weapons exported and reducing the total volume of weapons produced. Massive, sustained citizen input will be required for these demands to even be heard by most governments. It is our job as Christians to make sure that they do.
To be successful, the transition away from a war economy will need to be incremental. Obviously, a huge shift in military power will create power vacuums that may cause some to see an advantage in another’s weakness. Moving in a methodical, incremental fashion prevents a sudden shift in power and allows nations to make adjustments.
Secondly, those involved in the armaments industry will need to be incentivized to change their manufacturing and production to new industries such as green technologies, labor intensive industries such as organic farming, renovating homes to be energy efficient, the construction of green transportation and communications infrastructure. Providing a transition path for industry will reduce, but not eliminate, institutional resistance.
Verifying that those you fear are also playing by the rules is the critical component to the long-term success of this program for peace. As Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.” Taking incremental steps, agreed upon by all parties, helps to improve the process of verification. Governments and inspectors can verify that all parties have met their obligations before proceeding to the next step.
Both incentives and punitive measures will need to be invoked to ensure that countries participating in the process toward peace satisfy the agreements they have made. Incentives could include interest free loans, or simply grants for building food security, or developing industry, or water conservation and soil preservation. Punitive measures could include economic sanctions, freezing of assets, or the denial of participation in athletic competitions.
Any punitive measures must be non-violent, for peace cannot be attained by violent means.
Arms reduction will need to first focus on heavy armaments such as jet fighters, bombers, tanks, personnel carriers, artillery, warships, submarines, and other heavy weaponry. These types of armaments can be most readily identified as having one and only one purpose: killing human beings.
Small arms will also have to be included. While one may argue that small arms are necessary to protect one’s family, or to protect the people against the overreaching power of the state, reducing the number of small arms exported and imported is a critical component to attaining peace.
As Christians, we can choose to accept the myth that ‘war is inevitable’, or we can start taking concrete steps toward embracing our neighbors, loving our enemies, and eliminating the scourge of humankind – war.
Violent jihadists don’t represent Islam any more than the Anders Breiviks of the world represent Christianity.
On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, we’ll be transfixed once more by images of the planes ramming into the World Trade Center and people, caught in the flames, leaping to their deaths. We’ll see pictures of the burning Pentagon and hear stories of the heroic firefighters and police officers who sacrificed their lives to save others.
And we’ll be reminded that, despite Osama bin Laden’s death, violent jihadists are still a threat.
We’d be naive to think otherwise. What’s more, the threat has morphed in recent years. While we’ve made progress in eroding al-Qaeda’s capacity to launch attacks from overseas, we’ve seen an increase in plots hatched by “homegrown” terrorists — U.S. citizens or permanent residents inspired by extremist, al-Qaeda-like ideology. Indeed, half of the “homegrown” plots since 9/11 have occurred in the last two years, many of them instigated by the FBI.
There’s yet another danger, not only to our physical security but to our character as a people. It’s a danger that President George W. Bush warned the country about in the days following 9/11: the danger of branding all Muslims as our enemies.
Unfortunately, in recent years we’ve seen a revival of the Muslim-bashing that fueled a 1,600-percent increase in hate crimes against Muslims in 2001.
During the last presidential election, Barack Obama, a Christian, was portrayed as a Muslim and even a terrorist sympathizer.
Then, last year, anti-Muslim activists coalesced in opposition to the so-called “ground zero mosque,” a proposal to build an Islamic center two blocks from the site of the former World Trade Center. Exploiting the memory of 9/11, a small cadre of extremists who opposed the project created a national controversy brimming with bigotry and intolerance. They wanted nothing less than to deny American Muslims their rights under our Constitution.
The question some are asking is whether the anniversary of 9/11 will spark another jihadist attack. A more likely possibility? A new round of Muslim-bashing across America from those who want to divide, rather than unite, us — from those who forget there were many Muslims who died on that day and who would equate all Muslims with terrorists.
Their words — their depictions of Islam as a virulent political movement rather than a religion — have consequences.
We saw it in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when a Sikh man was fatally shot outside a gas station in Mesa, Arizona. His killer mistook him for a Muslim.
We saw it in 2008, when three men burned down a mosque outside Nashville.
And we saw it on July 22, when Anders Behring Breivik slaughtered 77 people, mostly teenagers, in Norway.
Breivik cast himself as a Christian knight dedicated to stemming the tide of Muslim immigration. He wanted to jolt his country into recognizing what he viewed as the threat of multiculturalism in Europe. In a 1,500-page manifesto, Breivik cited the words of Frank Gaffney, Pamela Geller, and other U.S.-based Islamophobes dozens of times, making clear their influence on him.
So as we mark this solemn anniversary, we must remain vigilant against the threat of terrorism by Islamists who preach an anti-Semitic ideology that is antithetical to our democratic values.
At the same time, we must remember that violent jihadists don’t represent Islam any more than the Anders Breiviks of the world represent Christianity. Our democratic values require nothing less.
So who pays for it?
Well, in my case, the State of NY picks up the tab in the form of Early Intervention. They provided a speech therapist, an occupational therapist (for fine motor coordination), a physical therapist (gross motor coordination) and a teacher that spent 10 hours a week with him. Now, I am a stay at home father (voluntary, TYVM) and I have the time this kind of help would require of me but I don’t have the training. The overwhelming majority of parents don’t have the luxury of having one parent at home and they certainly don’t have the specialized knowledge. So let’s say that you are a “small government” conservative that hates having your tax dollars spent on other people (because you are a dick). How do you go about taking care of your special needs children? These services would be quite expensive to pay for and medical insurance doesn’t cover autism last I looked. So what do you do? Let your child languish in the prison that is autism? Hope you find a private charity that just happens to provide ALL of the necessary services? Or do you rely on the government to build a system of professionals that can help parents and their children without incurring crushing debt?
What would be the pinion of a conservative? We don’t even need to ask. We know it. It’s already a conservative mantra that people without children shouldn’t have to contribute to public schools. Just like people with jobs shouldn’t have to help those without. Just like those who can eat three meals a day shouldn’t have to help those who can’t. Just like those who are Christian shouldn’t have to help those who are not. It takes exactly zero effort to extend that philosophy of greed and selfishness to not wanting to pay for special needs children if they don’t have one of their own. Some of them don’t even think autism is real.
The Conservative creed: I got mine, screw you!
Autism does not discriminate. So presumably half of all autistic children have conservative parents. Do they all throw their children to the wolves? Or do they turn to the government for professional help. I’m guessing they turn to the professionals since most of them can’t possibly afford to go it alone.
How do they reconcile that with their hatred of all things government? It’s easy enough to ignore all the stuff government does in the background. No one thinks about how clean the air and water is compared to 70 years ago. No one remembers that rivers used to routinely burst into flame from all the pollution. No one wonders what life would be like without firefighters and police. These services are essentially invisible to us and so the Right Wing pretends that they don’t exist or that they would be just fine if the government didn’t do it.
But they can’t pretend the services for special needs is invisible. It’s right there, in their face, day in and day out. They KNOW that they need it and they KNOW that, without the government, They wouldn’t have it. Do they pretend that they are a special case? Or that it’s THEIR tax dollars, knowing full well that they’re receiving far more than they put in? Or do they just rationalize that they deserve it for being a good American and those lazy Negros welfare people shouldn’t get a dime for their welfare kids?
How do they choke down that kind of hypocrisy on a daily basis? How do they vote for politicians that they know, for a fact, want to cut the very services that they desperately rely on for their children?
Is it even possible to be that stupid?
So my question to you, the reader, is: Do you know any Far Right, Glenn Beck loving, Fox News watching, Tea Party loving parents that rely heavily on government services for their child and how do they rationalize it?