March 25, 2004

Islam: What is there to fear? by Chaplain James Yee

I thought that since Chaplain Yee's arrest, incarceration and eventual punishment occured because of some unfounded fear of Islam and Muslims, I would share an article that he wrote while down in Guantanamo entitled, "Islam: What is there to fear?"

The motto of West Point is Duty, Honor, Country. Duty is defined as choosing the harder right over the easier wrong. I'm very disappointed but unfortunately not surprised that the US Army chose the easier wrong in permanently damaging Chaplain Yee's reputation and effectively ending his military career instead of choosing the harder right and admitting that the whole case was a mistake and giving him the apology that he deserves.

But it appears that choosing the easier wrong is currently in vogue these days whether its Yee or WMD. Hey as long as it's a noble cause it's ok to lie to achieve the desired result. Well that's the argument that Machiavelli made.

This article originally appeared in Volume 3, Issue 9 of the Wire on Friday January 31, 2003. The Wire is the newspaper for the Joint Task Force Guantanamo

By CH (Capt.) Yee
Chaplain, Joint Task Force Guantanamo

Islam: What is there to fear? in the Chaplain's Corner

September 11th, the pending war on Iraq, and our own day to day experiences of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo mission have all contributed to the picture many of us as Americans have painted about Islam and Muslims. And now, this universal religion of more than one billion followers worldwide is scrutinized by a population that has little knowledge of its basic tenets and practices. It is with a fearful eye that Islam and its worshippers are now being examined with the notion that they have become our nation's greatest enemy. However, a truly objective look makes it quite clear that Islam is really nothing to be afraid of at all.

The meaning of the word Islam is "submission'' and "peace." For a Muslim, the goal of attaining inner peace is achieved as one strives towards "submitting" oneself completely to God. Six articles of faith and the five pillars of Islam begin the process of transforming a mere physiological heart into a spiritual one.

The six articles of the Islamic faith indicate what a Muslim believes. They consist of belief in: 1) One God – The Almighty, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, All-Merciful, the Sole-Creator of all that exist; 2) The Angels - created by God to carry out various functions in service to Him, e.g., The Angel Gabriel's role was to bring divine revelation down to the Prophets; 3) The Divine Books - to include the Scrolls of Abraham, the Torah, the Psalms, the Gospels and the Qur'an; 4) The Messengers of God - to include Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, Joseph, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad; 5) The Last Day - being raise before God to account for one's belief and actions; 6) The Divine Decree - meaning all things happen according to His decision and not without His permission.

The five pillars of Islam which Muslims perform are: 1) Openly declare their belief in the Oneness of God and the finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad; 2) Prayer five times a day; 3) Give charity to the poor; 4) Fast during the month of Ramadan; and 5) Make a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy city of Islam, at least once if able to do so.

This is Islam in the mainstream, and looking a bit deeper into the core of its values, one finds a religion that affirms God's justice and insists on man's moral responsibility. However, it's a shame that every group is plagued with a small minority that falls prey to the pitfalls of following its own interpretations and agendas; and thus darkening the reputation for the majority.

Yes, another terrorist attack or the possibility of hidden Iraqi weapons of mass destruction are enough to strike fear in the American people. But in reality, the majority of Muslims around the world from Indonesia to America are God-loving people. So why has it been so difficult for most in our society to distinguish these millions from the extreme fanatical minority? Why are we still afraid of Islam, the religion?

Answer: lack of knowledge and unfamiliarity with Islam and Muslims. In most cases, people have limited personal experiences with Muslims and know Islam only through references made towards Muslim extremism.

The strength of the nation we defend is our diversity, but not knowing each other only creates an obstacle keeping us from really coming together as one cohesive force. A verse from the Holy Qur'an reads: "O Mankind! … (God) has created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may know and learn from one another. Verily the most honorable of you in the sight of God is the one who is most righteous." Practically speaking, this is as easy as smiling, and saying, "Hi, my name is ... " to a fellow JTF member who is Muslim. With almost certainty, your response will also be met with a smile and the words, "Hi, it's nice to meet you..."

Posted by Yahya at 08:26 PM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2004

West Pointers Against the War

I attended the peace rally in Crawford Texas (George Bush's adopted hometown) this past Saturday March 20, 2004. It was well attended (reports indicating between 800-1000 attendees). I brought a 5 foot by 15 foot banner that my family created the day before that read, “Texas Muslims for Peace & Justice.” It had lots of additions that the kids made like: hand prints, hearts, smiley faces, peace signs, etc. Fortunately just before we were set to march I found three fellow Muslims to help carry the banner.

We then marched from Tonkawa Falls Park in to downtown Crawford. This was a good mile. Crawford is a very, very small town. As I walked in to town lots of the local residents were sitting out on their porches watching the day’s activities. I tried to smile and wave to them. As I looked at the pretty but run down houses I couldn’t help but think that 87 billion dollars could have gone a long way to spruce up the place.

There were some local town folk (I’m guessing) dressed up in military garb counter protesting so I asked my fellow Muslims to hold up my end of the banner and I hopped out of the march and shook one guy's hand and said, "my name is Ian Benouis and I'm a West Point grad combat vet for peace." They all were in a state of shock and didn't know what to say.

Downtown Crawford is basically 2 traffic lights so we made a big U coming in to the town. One right and then another and then back the mile to the park. On the way back I saw the former Air Force veteran who was blocked in traffic that the news reports mentioned. He was doing his best not to look at us and maybe later he put up his cowboy hat in front of his face as the reports indicated.

Right before we got back in to the park, there was a family counter-protesting right next door. The news reports later informed that they had been there for a chili cook off and on the spur of the moment decided to protest against the peace rally. That really warmed my heart that he we were in America where we all had the right to speak our piece.

It was kind of interesting however that they weren’t really for anything (other than Bush and Cheney for another 4 years) as they were against what we were doing. They had red, white and blue balloons, a Bush Cheney 04 sign and were playing military marching music. They were dancing around doing their best to ignore our presence and pretend like we didn’t really exist. It kind of reminded me when kids put their hands over their ears and go, “la, la, la, la. I can’t hear you” when you are trying to talk to them.

Before the march there were some speakers and musicians performing. One speaker definitely got my attention when she was introduced. Her name is Shannon Sharrock and she is a West Point graduate from the class of 1997 and 2nd year law student at Baylor. She is a former Chinook helicopter pilot and her husband who is also a West Point graduate and Blackhawk Helicopter pilot with the 101st Airborne Division had just completed a full tour of duty in Iraq and was in Kuwait on his way back to the US.

I got the chance to talk with her after the march and she was kind enought to send me her speech. I have included the full text of her speech and also included the one that she gave last year at a similar rally at Crawford below. She is also a member of Military Families Speak Out. Hearing her made me wish that I had brought my poem "America is Babylon" to read at the rally that I wrote before the war began:

I've also included some articles about the rally (including a Republican and Bush Supporter who is against the war) at the end of this entry and some links to some other West Point Alumnus with commentary about the current war on terror and other current events. I've even included some pictures from the event.

March 20 2004 Speech, Crawford Texas

I am Shannon Sharrock. Wife to a soldier deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March of last year. I am a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. I am a second year law student at Baylor University, and I am a proud member of Military Families Speak Out. I am not here to endorse Mr. Nader or any other candidate for President of the United States. Contrary to what some may think, this gathering was not meant to be a forum from which to debate national issues or gain political clout, and it certainly should not be used as such.

I am here for a sole purpose: to fight for our soldiers and give voice to the military families who refuse to sit idly by and watch as their loved ones are sent to a war that has never been justified and never will be. Simply put, I am here to speak out against the war in Iraq- against the dishonorable, deplorable, deceptive foreign policy fashioned by the Bush administration, which now has our soldiers mired in an ethnic battle for which there is no end- an elective war hatched by the chicken hawks now roosting in the White House who feather their pockets with soft money from soft contracts- who know nothing of combat or Islamic culture or the sacrifices that our soldiers and their families make every day that this is allowed to continue.

We are all familiar with the lies and the deceit and the selfish, swaggering, self-promoting, preemptive policies that have lead to this blood soaked debacle. All of us feel betrayed, angry, frustrated, cast out by a society- albeit an ever decreasing society- which would rather label us unpatriotic or traitorous than face the truth that President George W. Bush sent our soldiers to die in an ill-conceived, ill-planned, ill-begotten war. We all know these statements to be true- we have known their truth for over a year now. We have spoken out, demonstrated, protested, called for action, called for justice, and called for peaceful alternatives to war. And much has changed… Yet much remains inadequately and unconscionably the same.

Over the past year, there have been repeated boastful statements made by our Commander-in-Chief that our soldiers have the best equipment that $87 billion can buy- yet for an entire year, my husband’s soldiers lived in tents shredded by both age and the elements. Over the past year, there have been repeated perfunctory promises made by Congress to equip our soldiers with the best armor, weaponry, and defenses available- yet after a year in the desert, my husband and most of his unit left Iraq just two days ago without having ever received bullet proof vests. Over the past year, there have been repeated adamant denials that our military was stretched too thin, that we have adequate numbers of soldiers both to defend our country and to deploy to other countries, yet the first wave of soldiers to return from Operation Iraqi Freedom have already received return orders to Iraq- some of whom will have had as little as six months of stabilization before their redeployment.

And soldiers and civilians continue to die and continue to be wounded. And excuses continue to be made. And there has been no accounting and no accountability. No weapons of mass destruction, no link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, no end in sight to the life of the war beast created and nurtured by those who understand nothing of the convolution of ethnic war.

And we continue to be vilified. And we continue to be labeled unpatriotic.

And still we are here, and we are many. We stand today, ever-united, ever-focused, ever-ready to continue what we have started- to continue our own battle against the political corruption that waged a war which has cost [565] American lives, thousands of Iraqi lives, and thousands more wounded. We will not be intimidated; we will not be deterred. We will continue to fight until our voices are not just heard but HEEDED, and this we use as our rallying cry: We will not rest until this elective war has come to an end. We will not lower our voices in protest until ALL of our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters have returned safely to American soil.

August 23 2003 Speech, Crawford Texas

I am Shannon Beth Sharrock, wife to a soldier serving in Iraq since March of this year. I am a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and served overseas in Korea and in the United States at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where I was discharged in 2002 because of injuries incurred while on duty that disqualified me from further service. But for that injury, I might well be serving with my husband—also a West Point graduate—in Iraq. And, I would be proud to do so were I in the least convinced that our presence there is justified and our cause meritorious. I am not… It is not...

Ignorance, arrogance, and mendacity by our administration in the White House and Pentagon have been a lethal combination for 273—and counting—members of our military serving in Iraq, and hundreds more wounded, as well as thousands of Iraqis.

There is no question but that we were misled by our elected and appointed leaders, including our Commander-in-Chief, our Secretary of Defense and his staff, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. If we were misled intentionally- it is unforgivable; if we were misled unintentionally, then our leadership is, at best, incompetent to the task upon which they embarked the young men and women of our military. Either is inexcusable. It is not the “American Way” in which I strongly believe and which led me to serve my country as a soldier.

Arrogance has isolated us from most of our traditional allies—the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and of the United Nation. Now, in our hour of need, these nations justifiably decline to join us in the reconstruction of the nation that we have destroyed, unless and until they are given a meaningful voice in decision making—a voice denied them in our rush to war, based on the false premises of the existence of weapons of mass destruction, development of nuclear weapons, and a connection with the Al Qaeda terrorist organization.

In this instance, it is clearly a truism that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. Our ignorance of the religions and cultures of Islam has been at no time more evident than now. Our system of democracy can no more be imposed on a culture and on a people to whom it is completely foreign, than a totalitarian form of government could be imposed by force on us. Those in Washington to whom we entrusted the lives of our young men and women of the armed services should have known and considered this before they placed our nation’s finest young men and women in harm’s way. It is unconscionable that they did not know- even more unconscionable if they did know.

Make no mistake, I served my country willingly and with pride. I support my husband and the rank and file of the military who have had no or little voice in the decisions for which many have already made the ultimate sacrifice.

I will not…I can not… in conscience support our invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq and the continuing occupation based on the false information with which we were provided and by which most of us were initially beguiled. I understand that we can not now abandon the good people of Iraq to yet another totalitarian despot, which is the inevitable consequence of a simple retreat of our armed forces from Iraq. We are clearly in for the long haul and must make the best of a bad situation that was not of the making of the brave men and women in uniform. Let us pray for more enlightened guidance than that which led us into the situation which we today protest.

We must be mindful of the words of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg which I here paraphrase: that we highly resolve that these 273 of our loved ones shall not have died in vain. We must also embrace the words of General Douglas MacArthur who said, “The soldier above all other people prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

Our men and women who wear the military uniform are not warmongers. They do not seek battle or the death and destruction it brings. They are in Iraq simply because it is their job to serve. It is their job to go where our elected officials send them. They do this selflessly, knowing that there is always a chance that they will not come home. Our loved ones knew this when they took the oath to serve and defend our nation. They did so willingly and without reservation. Therefore, it is not proper nor is it acceptable for them to speak out against the war and against their presence in Iraq. It is not their job to question the validity of intelligence that brought us to war; it is not their job to challenge the reasoning for their continued occupation in Iraq.

THAT IS OUR JOB- We as voting citizens; we as the constituents of our elected officials; we as the wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons of those who sacrifice in Iraq every day. It is our job to raise our voices in opposition to our soldiers’ continued presence in Iraq. It is time to take a stand. It is our duty…our obligation…our purpose today to protest a cause that has been weighed in the balance and found wanting.

Republican Speaks at Crawford Texas Antiwar Protest March 23, 2004
Activists converge in Crawford

Anti-war demonstration mixes talk of peace with election-year politics Dallas Morning News March 20, 2004

Here is the website for a classmate of mine Mark Vakkur:

David Wiggins is a conscientous objector from the first war in Iraq.

I just realized that both of these guys are doctors. Maybe we should listen to "the doctor" and take our medicine so that we can get better. Otherwise we may be in for a long illness and those West Point grad, former Army helicopter pilot, lawyer types will continue to stand on their soap boxes. ;)


View image This War Brought to You By Halliburton

View image Veterans for Peace

View image If the People Will Lead, the Leaders Will Follow

View image Bush Puppet

View image Bush Snake

View image We Don't Want This War

View image Obey, Resistance is Futile

View image Lies, the Real Weapons of Mass Destruction

View image Anti-Authoritarians Against War

View image Patriot Act burning up the Bill of Rights

View image Veterans for Peace Memorial to Solider Killed in Action

View image The Stage

View image Palestinian Posters

View image Peace Signs and Crowd

View image Peace Flags

View image US Out of Iraq, Bush out of DC

View image Veterans for Peace taking a smoke break

View image War Pigs

Posted by Yahya at 12:46 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2004

Spiritual Kung Fu Part 2

Oops there it is:

Army review: Agents erred in UT conference investigation Fort Worth Star-Telegram March 15, 2004

Army Screwed The Pooch by Spying on Academic Conference Attendees Capitol Hill Blue March 16, 2004

Agents' probe at law school criticized: Army's review sees procedural lapses
Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau March 16, 2004

Editorial: A rare but needed apology San Antonio Express March 17, 2004

Original blog entry: Spiritual Kung Fu

Army Says Its Lawyers and Intelligence Officers Overstepped Their Authority
in Texas Inquiry
Monday, March 15, 2004 By MICHAEL ARNONE

U.S. Army lawyers and intelligence agents were out of order when they
attended a conference on Islam last month at the University of Texas at
Austin's law school and aggressively questioned students and staff members a
few days later, the Army said in a written statement on Friday.

"The special agents and their detachment commander exceeded their authority
by requesting information about individuals who were not within the Army's
counterintelligence investigative jurisdiction," read the statement, which
was issued by the Army's Intelligence and Security Command.

In response to the incident, the Army command has provided all of its
counterintelligence operatives in the United States with extra training to
remind them of the legal limits on their investigations, the statement read.
The command could not be reached for comment on Friday.

It could not be learned if its agents had been punished for their actions in
the Texas incident.

The law school is "very glad the Army took this seriously," said Douglas
Laycock, associate dean for research at the law school. He said he
understands that law-enforcement agencies have been extra vigilant since
September 11, 2001, to prevent another terrorist attack and that it is
sometimes easy to overreact to situations. But it is important, he
continued, that law-enforcement leaders stress to investigative agents that
they know the law.

The statement confirmed that on February 4, two Army lawyers attended a
university-approved conference, "Islam and the Law: The Question of Sexism?"
The symposium drew a multiethnic crowd interested in an academic discussion
of how traditional Islamic law treats women (The Chronicle, March 5).

The lawyers were from Fort Hood, an Army base in nearby Killeen, Tex., and
were preparing to go to southwestern Asia to handle legal issues between the
U.S. military and the local Muslim population, the statement read.

At the Texas conference, the lawyers became suspicious of a man who
pointedly and persistently questioned them about who they were and what they
were doing there, the statement read. Following Army regulations, the
lawyers reported the man and two associates to intelligence officials at the

On February 9, two counterintelligence agents visited the law school to
identify the three men, the statement continued. The agents identified
themselves and requested a list of people who had attended the conference.
But no one cooperated with them, and they left the campus.

The incident aroused some of the same concerns that emerged at Drake
University last month, after federal officials subpoenaed the Iowa
university for information on an antiwar student group and persuaded a judge
to impose a gag order on the institution (The Chronicle, March 5). The
University of Texas has not received any subpoenas for information.

Sahar Aziz, the Texas conference's organizer, and William C. Powers Jr.,
dean of the law school, said at the time that they did not know why the
conference had attracted the interest of the military.

After the Army's visit, Ms. Aziz speculated that the word "Islam" in the
conference title had triggered an inquiry by intelligence officials. Malcolm
N. Greenstein, her lawyer, said that one of the counterintelligence agents
had told her he was seeking three "Middle Eastern-looking" men.

Mr. Greenstein could not be reached for comment on the Army's statement.

Copyright © 2004 by The Chronicle of Higher Education

Posted by Yahya at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2004

Acknowledging America’s Judeo-Christian-Islamic Heritage

I was recently appointed as an Executive Vice Chair for the Texas Chapter of the American Muslim Alliance and asked to create a resolution to be sent to the democratic presidential candidates encouraging them to acknoledge America’s Judeo-Christian-Islamic Heritage.

WHEREAS..... our founding fathers recognized and acknowledged our Divine source in the creation of our government and indicated such in the Declaration of Independence which is the foundational document in our Constitutional form of government and

WHEREAS..... the religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam all worship the One God of all mankind and we all trace our religious heritage to the same patriarch Abraham and

WHEREAS..... Islamic civilization during the nine centuries spanning from approximately 600 to 1500 AD contributed immensely to the course of human knowledge in such diverse fields as: astronomy, geography, history, mathematics, medicine and physics to name a few, thus heralding and enabling the European Renaissance. By acting as a bridge for Greco-Roman learning to Europe, Islamic civilization is an integral component of America’s Judeo-Christian heritage par excellence and

WHEREAS..... historically our country’s religious heritage has been described as Judeo-Christian and

WHEREAS..... our nation has always had Muslims living in it and now these Muslims constitute a significant number making it the third or likely the second largest religion in the country and the world and

WHEREAS..... we live in the most diverse and pluralistic country on the planet and our success and our blessings have been directly related to our ability to recognize, respect and integrate our various backgrounds and

WHEREAS..... we live in a time when global and political realities necessitate that we engage in the utmost effort to understand one another and build bridges of faith and community be it therefore

RESOLVED that we collectively acknowledge the common Judeo-Christian-Islamic heritage of our country and be it further RESOLVED that we encourage the use of this language as an effort to further strengthen and unify our country in our striving to make it a more perfect union.

Posted by Yahya at 02:47 PM | Comments (0)

Chaplain James Yee One Mic Radio Show Prep

I was recently on the One Mic radio show hosted by a friend of mine Adisa Banjoko to talk about Chaplain James Yee's situation. An mp3 of the show should be up on 3/15/04.

Here is some background on the show and then some questions that I created and then answered in preperation for the show.

One Mic” is the radio show that you have been waiting for: the perfect blend of hip-hop, politics, comedy, and celebrity star power. Hosted by the long-time hip-hop journalist and political enthusiast, Adisa Banjoko, ‘One Mic ' offers listeners a chance to interact in serious political dialogue, hear the latest hip-hop tracks, laugh a lot and get in-depth entertainment news. With the untouchable turntable skills of DJ Rob Flow, remixes by DJ Vlad, political news commentaries and in-depth interviews of celebrities and political icons, news contributions from our official Hip Hop news sponsor, spoken word poets, a film flashback- it’s a step above normal talk radio.

Why Should People Care About what is going on with Chaplain Yee?

His situation represents a choice that America has to make. The government has used 9/11 and the fear that has resulted from it to slowly and steadily chip away at the civil liberties and civil rights of all Americans. Unfortunately this is in the exact opposite direction from that envisioned by Martin Luther King, who saw a future where all people were treated fairly and with respect regardless of their race, regardless of their religion, and regardless of their belief. No one knows how far back we might go in the direction that the government is headed. We might end up in the time before the civil rights movement, we might go back to the time of McCarthyism, we might even go regress to the time when Japanese Americans were put in interment camps during WWII.

And this isn’t just a philosophical issue. It is a practical one as well. Just because Americans are in a group that is in the government’s favor today, doesn’t mean that they won’t be in a group that is out of favor tomorrow, especially during war time. Nazi Germany is a stark reminder of this danger. There is a great quote that came out of that period from Pastor Martin Niemoller. “In Germany they came first for the Communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me- and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

Why do you think that this is happening? Why are Muslims being targeted?

First off the government has not provided any official explanation as to why they are doing this, so there is lots of speculation on the issue. It’s my own personal opinion that the government is reacting out of fear, which is the same fear they are trying to sell to the American public. The government doesn’t understand Islam very well and as a result has concerns about the loyalty of Muslims in the military. This isn’t any different that the same doubts that the government had about the loyalty of Japanese Americans during WWII. The government felt that they couldn’t trust Japanese Americans even though they were born and raised in this country, because the feared that their ultimate loyalty was to their ethnic and even religious identity.

Is this just another form of ethnic and religious discrimination?

Well the facts certainly seem to support that claim and this is what Chaplain Yee’s parents have said. Col Farr who was also stationed at Guantanamo was charged with the offense of mishandling classified documents. He is not a Muslim nor is he a minority. He was never incarcerated after being charged. Chaplain Yee on the other hand after being charged only with the same offense was initially thrown in a maximum security prison for 76 days, placed in solitary confinement where he was manacled hand and foot. His captors refused to tell him the time of day or direction towards Mecca so he could perform his religious duties correctly, which ironically is the very reason that he was sent to minister to the prisoners in Guantanamo was to provide for them these basic human rights.

Posted by Yahya at 02:44 PM | Comments (0)

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 09:17 AM | Comments (0)