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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

September, 2004

Losing Faith
By Steve Wallis


 

   The Christian values, shared by our national leadership, are a touchstone that lends them strength as they lead our nation through these troubled times. Indeed, given the remarks of Ashcroft, Bush, Cheney, and others, we may say that faith is a cornerstone of the administration. But is this the same faith that is held by millions of Americans? Is the faith of our leaders reflected in the heart of America?
   As Psalm 21 says, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil..." After kicking Saddam out of Kuwait ten years ago, I knew of no one who was afraid of that tin-pot tyrant. Then came no-fly zones, sanctions, inspections and even satellite surveillance. We didn't find any weapons of mass destruction, but we certainly kept Saddam on the run. He had so little faith in his situation that he never slept in the same place two nights in a row. He even surrounded himself with body-doubles. Those were the actions of a man working from fear, not faith.
   Why should we be afraid of a defeated coward living half a world away? We had power. But apparently, we did not have faith. Strangely, our national leadership began promoting the opinion that this terrified tyrant could rise up and strike a terrible blow against America. At the time when we were at our strongest, our leadership was selling fear, rather than hope.
   The Christian faith is one of humility; one that says, "Render unto Caesar." But what happens when the gentle faith of Jesus, a faith that says, "love thy neighbor," and "turn the other cheek" turns into the dogmatic religion of a conquering empire? Our faith, which was meant to be a gentle reminder to serve God by helping our fellow man, was turned into a self-serving excuse-full of hollow words and signifying nothing.
   When did this start? When did the faith of peace become a reason for war? It happened when we put profits ahead of people. Funds earmarked to aid Afghanistan were diverted to buy bombs. We unwittingly handed terrorists a new recruiting tool we made their distorted description of an "evil" America more believable to the Muslim world. Care turned into a crusade of conquest. Faith was lost when we became the merchants in the temple (which explains why the terrorists are so eager to overturn our tables against us).
   Terrorism emerges from a pit of despair. It is incumbent upon those with faith to hand out hope. The Golden Rule says, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." In the case of Iraq, does this mean we want to have other nations invade America? Or, is there something else we might do to improve our own lives by improving theirs?
   I suggest that instead of invading Iraq, we should have held to our faith. Imagine if a hundred billion dollars and hundreds of thousand of eager youths were committed to making the Afghan desert bloom? Such generosity would be more effective at stopping terrorism than all the bombs in the world. In giving in to our own fear by peremptorily invading a sovereign nation (whatever good intentions paved that road), we have unwittingly held God's Golden Rule up to ridicule.
   With love and generosity we can help our fellow man. Charity does not begin at home-it is not charity to help one's self. Charity begins far from home-when we reach out to those who are strange to us and help them to know the benefits of freedom and opportunity. Religious dogma can be applied in any country as words to sway public opinion and justify violence. But lets put fancy quotations aside and realize that the root-cause of terrorism is life lived without hope.
   No person on earth is so rich that he can afford to ignore the plight of his fellow man. Generations of people living wretched, hopeless desperation would make terrorists out of any people. Are we so empty of love that we can't help? Are we so full of fear that we think we must fight? If that is the case, perhaps we need a little more faith.

Steven E. Wallis, MA - Fielding Graduate Institute Ph.D. student
Read "Easy Genius" to build brilliance, memory, and motivation; save time, and have fun!
http://www.easygenius.net
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