Thursday, October 27, 2011

Post #24 - Using the Brains God Gave Us

"Almighty God, our heavenly Father, without whose help labor is useless, without whose light search is vain, invigorate my studies and direct my enquiries." (Samuel Johnson)

"He who controls the present controls the past, and he who controls the past controls the future." (George Orwell, 1984)

Iranians have a custom of opening at random a collection from the 14th-Century poet known as Hafez to find guidance on life decisions. Many Christians turn to the scriptures for guidance on any question posed by our daily life. The Holy Bible presents us with the core teachings of Christ and the stories of prophets, apostles and saints through many centuries. But God also created us with rationality, which we can use for good, as well as for frivolous or nefarious ends. To solve issues of war and peace, we should employ all of the tools we have been given: divine example and inspiration, the wisdom of the saints, the insights of science -- as well as our own ingenuity, creativity and compassion. We must be wary of the current “official line,” whichever administration is promoting it. It may be the outer face of a larger strategy, serving a hidden agenda about which we were never consulted. As singer/songwriter Christina Van Norman says we must “Question the Answer:”

You've been told all sorts of things
By poets, teachers, queens and kings;
Don't always digest what they wish,
But leave the bones and eat the fish.

Admittedly, it is often difficult to discern the truth in the maelstrom of conflicting press reports and pronouncements by pundits. After the United States invaded Iraq, some 69% of Americans still believed that Saddam Hussein had some responsibility for the attacks of 9/11, even though no evidence of such a connection has ever been found. Ecumenical News International (based in Geneva) reported in March 2006 that representatives of the World Association for Christian Communicators, which has members in 120 countries, expressed concern about information coming out of the US administration regarding Iran. The WACC said that the "U.S. may be intent on invading a second Middle Eastern nation under a camouflage of disinformation and WMD -- weapons of mass deception." (That view seemed to be supported by the Bush administration's own former National Security Council director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs, Hillary Mann, who was quoted (in a February 19, 2007 Newsweek article) as having said: “[Administration policy-makers] intend to be as provocative as possible and make the Iranians do something [America] would be forced to retaliate for.”)  Obviously, we dodged that bullet for a time; the current administration is very different from its predecessor.  But now we have the case of the plot to assassinate a Saudi ambassador, continuing concerns about Iran's nuclear program and suggestions that Iran's government may be in a greater state of flux than previously.

The ENI article also said:

"'The media industry is now sometimes hindered by its vested interest with the powers that be. In this regards, front-line journalists should have the courage to uphold their code of ethics, to reveal the truth,' said Hong Kong-based Liza Leung Yuk-Ming, vice president of the East Asia Catholic Press Association, and a university professor specialising in media studies.

"'If the mass media do not publicly monitor, question, and call to account the actions of governments and corporate interests', said the WACC, 'they become complicit in a conspiracy of silence that serves to undermine democracy and peaceful coexistence'. [Members of the WACC] urged the media to 'question and challenge the pronouncements and actions of the Bush Administration with regard to Iran'. By doing so, it 'would help avoid the deliberate confusions that led to the present [Iraqi] war', and there would be 'a chance of averting the possibility of a catastrophe for the people of Iran and their neighbours'". 

Does it matter whether our confusion is deliberate or accidental?  Does anyone know where our involvement in Afghanistan -- Iran's neighbor on the east -- will lead?  We still have more questions than answers, I'm afraid.

"Swords into ploughshares..." - Wall at Raoul Wallenberg Place, near the United Nations Headquarters, New York City

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