Monday, March 30, 2009

Let Them Have Their Damned State! (That'll fix 'em)

On Fareed Zakaria's "GPS" (Global Public Square), a guest correspondent, indignant at the suggestion that America should pull out of Afghanistan, cried out, "What, just leave it to the Taliban?"

Well, they are Afghans; we're not. Besides, what is the alternative? We keep it? And once we've made Afghanistan ours, do we seek out other failed states - say Somalia - to keep? (Can't have the Somali militants running a state, either.) And, after Somalia, what's next? Zimbabwe? Pakistan? Mexico? Just how many failed states can we handle before we finally say, "Okay, you have that one?"

I say, "Let them have their damned state!" (That'll teach them to be careful what they pray for.) They will find running a state is a lot more difficult than destroying one. So, let them have the responsibility for once. Let them be held accountable. IF nothing else, we will know where they are.

And there's the rub: They terrify us because we do not know where they are. Give them a state; pin them down. Of course, they can still cause mischief. But they will think twice before they do, considering they will have more to lose, and will lose it quicker.

Besides, it is not a matter of "giving them a state" so much as it is yielding to a larger paradigm. If a sitting government is indifferent to the needs of its people, then that government exists as a virtual vacuum. When we pose as guarantors of such regimes, we go against the natural order and become part of the problem.

And while we chase the Taliban back and forth across Afghanistan, we might want to stop for a moment and consider who are these people we so desperately want to kill?

The Taliban took control of Afghanistan because the sitting government could not. Certainly, the Taliban were not the most popular of regimes. (They don't exactly party.) But, then, they did not promise their people a party. In many ways, they are a lot more adult than we are. (Compared to the Taliban, we are a bunch of wild-eyed frats looking to get high and get laid.) It was the Taliban that virtually ended the opium trade in Afghanistan. It was America's invasion that brought it back.

The Taliban are not terrorists. They are Muslim fundamentalists who provided safe haven to terrorists. For that, we punished them. If necessary, we can punish them again. But, let's not do it continually, as though we, were caught in some endless nightmare.

Let 'em have their damned state, Mr. President. Then, let them know that if they cause anymore trouble, there will be hell to pay.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I Am Bound

The greatest story of sacrifice, (besides the story of Jesus, himself) is the story of Abraham and Isaac. Isaac was Abraham's beloved son. God said to Abraham, "Sacrifice him."

Many parents today still hold their children above all else. Except, there is a fraying there. More and more, parents are elevating their personal freedoms above their children. That is, they are willing to sacrifice their children's welfare for the sake of indulging their freedoms - freedom to pamper themselves, freedom to party, freedom to pursue the emotion of the moment.

Think of time. Time is precious. How often do we hear parents say to their children, "I don't have time" - time to play with that child, time to read to that child, time to take that child for a walk? Why? Because to indulge that child would be to infringe upon that adult's freedom to indulge himself.

How many married men still value their freedom to look at other women; even to pursue and fornicate with other women? How many married women, now more than ever, flex those same muscles.

Freedom. Freedom to indulge my lusts, my greed, my anger. Stop it, and try sacrificing that freedom for the good of your spouse, you child, and your community.

We earn money, and then we declare, "I'm free to spend my money as I please." Sacrifice. Say, "I am not free to spend my money as I please; I am bound to think of others and how I can help my fellow man."

Sacrificing freedom has a broad range of applications - in the home, in the community, and worldwide. That's right, we can go big! There are many things we do out of might rather than right. When we sacrifice the prerogatives of might, we make way for the tenets of right. (The piece, Terminators V: Release of the Drones, is an example of the prerogatives of freedom.)

Freedom can go awry. In the piece, "Cowards, Followers, and Fools" local office workers mirror the actions of congressmen and senators in a headlong rush over the falls. A couple of days after writing the piece, I share it with a broad cross-section of that office. I guess you say I was looking to pick a fight - not for personal reasons, except ti was time we challenged ourselves. But, there were no fights. In fact, they came to me later, one by one - not all, but a cross-section - shook my hand, and apologized. I accepted their handshakes and apologies, but that had never been my objective.

All 44 men had failed to respond to a common courtesy - the posting of a bookmark announcing the publication of my latest book. Featured on the bookmark, a message - one that foretold the workers' behavior to the 100th percent. I was not nearly so bothered as I was absolutely amused.

The bookmark speaks of an "uncommon distance between humans" in terms of light years. It should not be such an impossible distance, yet, more and more, it is becoming a distance only God can traverse.

If we will surrender, however - if, in fact, we were to sacrifice ourselves, our freedoms,; if we were to say, "I am not free; I am bound," - then we could yet realize our benevolent designs.

Monday, March 9, 2009

They Are Still Gods

There are terrorists among us - econo-terrorists - whose crimes against the state amount to treason. Yet, we do not lock them up - we pay them, in fact because they know money.

Nothing scares us like losing our money. These econo-terrorists take our money while holding over us the prospect that if we give them more money, they can undo the damage.

We succumb to that "illogic" out of greed. (It certainly cannot be out of mercy. We have no mercy for those who commit "crimes." We hold more people in prison than all other nations on earth, and in many of out states, we keep them longer than the law allows. No mercy there; no mercy anywhere, except where there is no money.)

Amazingly, these people do not promise to get our money back. they seem, rather, to promise that if we give them more, they may squander more - call it "good business" - but in the end, they will make us money from the ransom paid, so much so, that we will forgive their transgressions and feel rich again.

That is what we want - we want to feel rich again; (we despise poverty). It not "feel rich," we at least hope to feel the illusion of wealth, which is credit. And they have the credit; they have the credit kings.

No one can give credit like the big banks and money lenders - the Wachovias and Bear Stearns' of the world. They are giants. Among us, they stride like Greek gods. Even in disgrace, these gods reek of wealth, and we remain infatuated by their mere names.

Wake up, Americans! These people knew what they were doing to America's economy; they are not fools. They knew the housing bubble - which was the levy that held back this perfect storm - would burst. It was inevitable to the trained eye; especially to the instincts of men and institutions who breathe money.

We trust them anyway. Why? Because they are gods. They protect our money; they make us more money; they are money incarnate.

We are burned now; many of us are razed. Yet, we still believe. Faith, sad faith.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cowards, Followers, and Fools

On January 28, 2009 Republicans in the House voted against President Obama's stimulus package 177-0. The following day, the Illinois Senate voted 59-0 to remove Governor Blagojevich from office. About the same time, another shut out occurred, one that completes the trifecta.

Seems a local office worker wrote a book. As is customary - that is, as a courtesy to his co-workers, he posted a notice on the bulletin board. (To have done otherwise would have been rude.) It turns out that out of an office of 44 other employees, not a single one uttered a single word of congratulations. 0-44. That, folks, is what we call a "January hat trick."
So, what gives? 0-177, 0-59, 0-44. Are you serious?

How is it that not a single Republican congressman supported Obama? Certainly, there was one, two, (at least 20) whose districts stand to benefit directly and immediately from the package. Another ten must like Obama. Still another ten must wonder that the entire package can work. Yet, they all said "no." Why? ("How?" might be a better question.)

And what of Blagojevich? He was a Democratic Governor in a traditionally Democratic state presiding over a Democratic legislature. Yet, they all turned their back on him. Surely, there must have been one, two, (at least 10) whom he campaigned for, endorsed, or in some other way helped to elect. Certainly five of them, at least, must have benefited from his favors. Was there not one among the 59 who simply liked the man with the thick, dark curls? Not a one. Why? (Better yet, how?).

Then there is the curious case of the writer who went 0-44. He is special because he is one of us - average "Joe" trying to do something noteworthy before he dies. Yet, all that is worth noting is that no one of his fellow average "Joes" gave a damn.

Cowards, followers, and fools. If that is the absolute majority of us, then we are in deep trouble.