Monday, June 06, 2005

A religious fight

Few things delve as deeply into our souls, our very beings, as religion. If you are an evolutionist, you probably believe that religion evolved over the eons to meet the growing needs of a growing consciousness (after all, we are the only animals that 'worship'). As such, it has become a part of us as much as breathing or eating--it is vital. If you are of a different religious bent, you probably believe that religion answers the questions that God (or whoever, whatever) placed in us at creation, inception, reincarnation or the big bang. Again, it is vital to who we are and how we act. Either way, that belief is held by faith.

When something is taken as a matter of faith, not direct, demonstratable fact, the belief is held more strongly and thus defended more viscously. Seldom will you see someone in a violent confrontation over gravity. I can't remember the last time I heard someone scream obscenities about the flatness of the earth or the origins of a chicken egg. Yet, evolution, Islam, abortion, freedom, and war all bring out deep and strong feelings. These are not Republican or Democrat issues. To those who debate them, on both sides, they are more important than politics. Often, they are more important than life or death. These are the outgrowths of religion.

We in our 'progressive' society, are often far removed from the hard facts of life and death. We translate that distance into a faux dispassion for all things so simplistic. All is a shade of gray. Yet even that we take on faith, while denying the existence of such a motive. "Faith" becomes a pejorative term for religion. Skepticism is the religion of our society, and we defend it as fiercely as a Dervish, Jesuit or Wahabbist. We are certain that there can be no certainty, and are devout in our impiety. It is a trite saying, but our motto is that there are absolutely no absolutes. And yet, we find ourselves involved in a religious clash.

When a fight involves religion, on either side, it is a religious war, even if the other side refuses to admit it. Saying 'it ain't so' doesn't work. Witness the build up to WW2 (nazism) and the Cold War (communism), both religions we refused to acknowledge until the fate of millions hung in the balance. Our current war is the same. Until we are willing to attack not merely the physical enemy but his ideology as well, we will not have the moral foundation for a successful campaign. That ideology, spreading like fascism, nazism, communism and colonialism all have at various times, is a form of Islam, much like 'national socialism' was a form of a bigger ideology, socialism. Just because one form appears benign right now does not mean we should forswear the fight with another.

All this brings me to several articles by Pam Zubeck of the Colorado Springs Gazette. Her articles all have the sound of desperation, fear and loathing in them. But of what? It seems to me she loathes the military most of all. The standing joke when I was at the Academy was that she had been stood up by her date for the Ring Dance, and, as a woman scorned, had sworn her fury on all those associated with that terrible slight. True? I really doubt it. But it was a good story. There is a fair amount of anti-male bias in her reporting, and certainly a lot of anti-established religion. Her reporting, I think, goes beyond the usual reporter's skepticism and into the realm of activism.

So, after reading one of her articles, here was my initial response:

Since when is the MOST IMPORTANT document in the history of the world not a viable source of quotations? There is no other document, no other collection of sayings by any person or leader or group that has had as profound an impact. To disqualify it as quotable on leadership and morality merely because it happens to be considered a holy text by two of the oldest major religions in the world is absolutely absurd. The book that inspired the Magna Carta, much of Shakespeare, the Pilgrims establishment of colonies in the New World, the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and has been cited by EVERY President and BOTH POLITICAL PARTIES is not a viable text from which to pull quotes on leadership and morality? ON WHAT PLANET DO YOU LIVE, WOMAN?????

As we move more into the morass of moral fluctuation and situational morality, are we to always be judged by the present and changing FEELINGS evinced by those who have a motive to tear down what our forefathers wrought out of pain, suffering and wilderness? On what basis is leadership promoted, if not a moral claim of knowledge of right? A leader who says "any way is the right way" is, by definition, not leading. If religion has no place in the public square, if debate over right and wrong is to be banished, then what is the point of both the "free exercise" and "establishment" clauses coupled with the "free speech" clause? If a leader is a good leader, don't those who look up to him deserve to hear why he does what he does? Imagine a CEO of a successful company telling his senior managers, "I'd love to tell you how I have made this company successful, but I won't." He'd be considered selfish, secretive and worthless. A good leader grows others to fill his place and lead. A good leader teaches, mentors and prepares others. How can he do that if he is prevented from talking about a part of what drives him to be, know and do right? This is absolutely the most asinine article from Pam that I have seen to date. She has such an obvious contempt for both the military and religion, I wonder that she is allowed to right about either. Further, since she seems to have NO understanding of the discipline and leadership it takes to send men and women into battle, to lead them to kill, and maybe be killed, I suggest she spend a little time with the families of those who have lost their sons and daughters in the cause of freedom.

Pam, go and ask them if religion has no place in leadership. Go to Iraq and ask those who may be dead tomorrow if they are offended today when their commanders, who may die with them, talk about the possibility of "mounting up with wings as eagles". Ask the Marine who just dragged his bleeding and dying bunkmate from the debris-strewn street if he is offended by the concept of "bearing on another's burdens". Stand with the unit who has lost brothers, as they gaze on the empty boots, upturned rifles and bloodied helmets, listening to the comforting words of scripture. I dare to you to challenge them at that moment that these words they hear from their commander are a "misuse of office".

It is only in the safety and comfort of a country whose freedom has been purchased with the blood of patriots, a country that stands safe from attack because of the noble sacrifice of thousands upon hundreds of thousands, that you are able to contend that this is wrong. And it is your right to pen those filthy and degrading words, words that show you to be a craven coward, weak enough in your own beliefs that you can't stand the idea of others having beliefs strong enough to fight and die for. Freedom, love, honor, faith, hope, courage. These are words that drive us on when we have no more strength. They are words of both religion and leadership. They are the words that stirred hearts to make this a country where you can debase the sacrifice made by those who went before. And they are words by which we in the military live, AND DIE.

And that blood, Pam, and those words, give me the right to say that YOU ARE A [deleted] MORON!

More later on the correlation between religion and leadership, and also the current religious climate in the workplace (military) and the weakness of any religion that can't stand to have its views even questioned a little…but for now I have to go for a run and enjoy the hot weather.




Michelle Malkin has a link to the WAPO editorial (I missed it) and to a couple of excellent pieces by a former teacher of mine, Ken Masugi. Naturally, he says it a lot better than I do. But I am still working on a letter to the editor...

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