Category Archives: Politics

This is not…

…a political blog. But some things go past politics to basic issues of right and wrong.

Murder is wrong. Censorship by fear is wrong. So today,

JE SUIS CHARLIE.

Edited on Jan. 9 2015, as more information has become available:

Also,

JE SUIS AHMED MERABAT.

Because the issue isn’t “Let’s hate and fear Muslims”. The issue is “Let’s not be controlled by people whose own lives are ruled by hatred and who want to fill us with hate and fear like their own.”

It comes down to this…

Where I vote. That’s a sample ballot taped to the door,
for those who need a last look at their choices.
The flag shows that, today, this school is a polling place.

Tens of thousands – hundreds of thousands? – of everyday places all across the United States, converted for one day to places where people come, one by one, to step behind the curtain of the voting booth and, alone with their opinions and their consciences and the voting machine, officially state who they think is the best, or the least bad, choice to run the public business of their country. (It’s not just the president – this morning, I voted for a President, and a U.S. Senator, and a U.S. Representative (New Jersey state assembly members will be elected next year), and three county freeholders out of our seven, and a county sheriff.) Such a quick, ordinary matter, with so much riding on it.

No, I’m not going to tell you how I voted. This isn’t a political blog. But if you’re reading this on November 6, and you’re a U.S. citizen, and you didn’t vote before election day, get out there and vote! It’s your job.

Let justice flow down like waters?

You might think the quote above sums up one of the main political positions that the Bible endorses – a good society, a nation that God loves, will see to it that justice is freely available to everyone, not just the rich and powerful. And then there’s the other great political theme of the Bible – “inasmuch as you have done it to the least of My brethren” (fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick and prisoners) “you have done it to Me.” God makes no secret of His special concern for the poor and desire that the rest of us help those with few resources.

This past Sunday, a group called the “Alliance Defense Fund” urged pastors to give sermons on political issues, telling their congregations to vote against any candidate who takes unbiblical positions. Does that mean they will endorse politicians who call for helping the poor?

Um, no. Not as far as I can tell from their web site. Their big concern seems to be with sex. Now God knows (and so do we) that sex can involve unloving, harmful behavior, and so we need to be careful with it. But humans can lust after money and power as well as sexual pleasure, and the Bible seems to suggest that money and power are more likely to cause harm. At the least, it spends a lot more space warning people not to misuse them.

It’s a shame that the Alliance Defense Fund’s Bible has apparently removed all the passages about caring for those who need help.

P.S. on bin Laden –

– the Slacktivist has an interesting post on international law, justice, love, and the Seals.

Moral men and immoral society and the death of bin Laden

Does this bell toll for me?

John Donne, some few years ago, thought that every human death was his own loss. And now Osama bin Laden is dead. And I have to admit, my immediate reaction was “Yay! At last!”

No sane person can deny that bin Laden was a murderous monster, who rejoiced in the death of random strangers – the more death the better. Worse, he thought that sacrificing thousands of human beings would please God, or his idea of God. And on a milder level, he and his followers would surely hold that I, as a woman, should be put under house arrest from late childhood till death, and forced to hide my face like a criminal if ever I contaminated the public streets by appearing in them. He was my enemy.

And I am told to love my enemy. It isn’t easy. Really, does his death diminish me?

Not the fact of it. What would diminish me is wallowing in it as if it was a tub of warm scented bubble bath, rejoicing in death. This man was a gifted leader, an intelligent, educated, capable person, who wasted all the abilities he could have used to improve his world and mine. That’s something to mourn.

Besides, there’s my preferred revenge fantasy, the one that will never come true. Oh, to see bin Laden standing trial in a western court, with a female judge, forced to treat her with respect, forced to follow the rules of a civilization he longed to destroy. It won’t happen. And maybe it doesn’t matter now. Maybe the world is moving past his bizarre dreams that tried to mingle sixth century rules of conduct with the latest of weapons. Maybe the new dreams of the Arab Spring, of an Egypt and a Tunisia (and God willing, many more countries) where people can find ways to share their world without killing everyone who disagrees with them will come true.

Osama bin Laden is dead. The world has one less talented, evil man in it, and that’s a good thing. And may God have mercy on his soul.

It’s all in how you tell the story

Something shocking happened. People who are responsible for the safety of thousands are so irresponsible that they take naps on the job. It’s a wonder nobody has been killed yet.

Something shocking happened. People are being forced to work under conditions that almost guarantee that they will put thousands of strangers in terrible danger. It’s a wonder nobody has been killed yet.

And, of course, these are the same story. Air traffic controllers falling asleep on the job while planes need to be directed to safe landings. Air traffic controllers forced to work long hours, often alone, on rotating shifts – switching constantly between working mornings and evenings and overnight – and finally unable to stay alert, betrayed by their bodies and their management.