March 10, 2004

Election 2004: Following in Ancient Israel’s Footsteps - Will the US also demand a King?

This election season is different. We are currently engaged in two wars, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. According to the current administration we are also permanently and indefinitely engaged in a worldwide war against terror that has no geographical or time limitations. Nor is it limited to perceived enemies outside the geographical boundaries of our country.

It’s kind of ironic that we have always been expecting the WWIII that we imagined in our collective unconscious during the Cold War. When the real World War III actually snuck up on us it caught us off guard. This is evidenced by the fact that most people don’t realize that this the war that we guarded ourselves against – a worldwide war that every country participates in, as according to our president in this global war against terror that “you are either with us or against us” - is going on this very minute.

This presidential election does represent a historic choice for our country, and because we do determine the future of the world, for our planet. However as much as some would like to believe that it is a choice between the Republican and Democratic parties, it is not. That is a choice between Coke and Pepsi. Which ever you choose you are still drinking bubbly sugar water and too much of it isn’t good for you. This is a referendum on whether we want to choose Hope over Fear. Peace over War. This is a choice if we want to have a King govern us or we want to take our democracy back. It’s important to note that the current and previous administrations haven’t so much taken democracy from us as we have abdicated it to them.

As always history is instructive. In this case however it is useful to go back to ancient Israel before the time of rule by kings. Samuel, a prophet, was a judge over Israel. He judged Israel with fairness and justice during his life, but when became old and made his sons judges after him they, “Did not follow in his ways, but turned aside after gain; they took bribes and perverted justice.” Now I’ll leave it to the reader to ponder the pervasive influence of money in the political process over the last 30 years up to the current administration, culminating in events like the Halliburton scandal.

The elders of Israel gathered and demanded from Samuel that he, “Appoint for us a king to govern us, like other nations.” Samuel then prayed to God. We should all heed God’s words back to Samuel.

The Lord said to Samuel, "Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only--you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them."

So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, "These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day."

But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, "No! But we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles." When Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. The Lord said to Samuel, "Listen to their voice and set a king over them."

So do we want a king who will force our sons and daughters in to the military? [There is currently a bill in Congress that would reinstitute the draft and provide no option for conscientious objectors nor could anyone go to Canada or Mexico this time around.] Do we want a king who will take our money and give it to his benefactors who helped put him in office? [Corporations pay less and less of their share of taxes and individual taxpayer’s burden continue to increase all while we face the biggest deficit in our nation’s history.] Do we want a king who will fight our battles by engaging in preemptive war around the world or do we want a king who will eliminate the need for fighting in the first place by engaging the world with justice and fairness and will not tell the rest of the world, “Do as a I say, and not as I do.”

God has given us the choice. “And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves.” We are blessed with a democracy in this country but it doesn’t work correctly unless we operate it ourselves. The current administration is happy to do our work for us if don’t demand otherwise. Listen to the words of the man who could be king, “"If this was a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." President George Bush, December 18, 2002.

So it’s your choice. It’s our choice. We can get out and vote and we can take our country back. However, be forewarned, it’s not just that we vote in a new administration and can believe that our work is done. We must reengage ourselves in our civic duties in order to make this a more perfect union. Our duty as citizens goes beyond voting and paying taxes. The cost of democracy is our time and effort to be involved in the process.

There will those who argue that in this time of “war” that we have to sacrifice our liberty at the government’s altar of national security. Well one of our founding fathers knew better, “They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin

Posted by Yahya at March 10, 2004 09:17 AM
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