Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Be Of Good Courage, Fear Not.. My Obligatory 9/11 Post
On this obscure little blog I would like to remember 9/11 by looking to a couple of the great leaders of human history, to see what they had to say about fear. The point of the 9/11 attacks after all was to give our nation a sense of dread and fear. Unfortunately I believe the terrorists succeeded all to well in that goal, in no small part due to the willingness of our nations leaders to foster the fear of the nation in a crass attempt to gather more power.
Fear is a powerful motivator. The terror of spending eternity in hell, forever agonized and tormented without recourse has been used by preachers to bring converts in droves. This style of preaching even has it's own name... everyone knows what you are going to get if you go listen to a fire and brimstone preacher.
Yet I find the teachings of the man upon whom the entire religion is founded to be very instructive, especially in regards to the mindset Jesus tried to give to his followers.
Jesus preached gospel, and exhorted his followers to preach the gospel. The entomology of the word gospel traces back to old English... god (good) spel (story or message). Jesus taught, and wanted his followers to teach, the good news. Not the fire and brimstone "you need to find religion or be damned to hell" bad news. Look at the lessons Jesus taught and you rarely find reference to eternal damnation. Those references are there, but are not the foundation of Jesus' message by any stretch of the imagination. In fact Jesus told his followers to be of good courage, to fear not, nor to be afraid.
This good news message inspired one of the great religions of human history. I find it hard to imagine Jesus, facing enemies on all sides, beset with trial and tribulation with his very life on the line... preaching that the people he led should be fearful and let cowardice rule their decisions.
This style stands in direct contrast to the current President, famed for once exclaiming to David Gregory that we are in Iraq because the terrorists wanted to kill Davids children.
One of the greatest quotes by any President in our nations history was FDR's famous exhortation to the nation when we were in the depths of depression and dust bowl despair... "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself". Contrast that inspirational call for courage against the words of President Bush: "it should frighten the American people that al Qaeda is active in Iraq looking for a safe haven from which to launch further attacks"
I find it singularly offensive that any President would say the words "it should frighten the American people" in a sorry attempt to justify any given policy. Particularly policy that is wrong, and in fact leads to the very problems that the President is telling us should cause us to act out of fear. It should not frighten the American people Mr. President. Maybe it should cause us concern, or generate debate... cause us to reflect or some other such reaction... but for the President to actually say that "it should frighten the American people". That is one of many many moments that will eventually be forgotten in the dustbin of history as a sad reflection on a failed President.
They want to kill our children and we should be very afraid. Just who the heck is supposed to be trying to terrorize the nation anyway? Our enemies or the President? It seems he's determined to keep us all trembling in fear, just so long as we remember that Republicans will keep us safe as we stand at the voting booth. The President has even been so blatant as to pronounce that a win for the Democrats in the mid term elections was a win for the terrorists.
This willful terrorizing of the American people by our own leaders is quite simply appalling. There are examples of societies being led by fear in world history. Very rarely, if ever, are these examples of fear mongering given by constructive governments leading to the betterment of the society which is being afflicted with the fear. Just imagine how differently history may have played out if Roosevelt has exhorted the nation to "be afraid... be very afraid". Or how different human history would be if Jesus had called for the mulitudes to cower and tremble in fear.
Can you imagine Winston Churchill trying to scare the British people during the Battle of Britain? Or George Washington alarming the colonists during the Revolutionary war? Was Abraham Lincoln a fearmonger? The great leaders of human kind call out courage and steel their peoples for the great struggles of their times.
Whenever I compare politicians I always enjoy hearkening back to the great Lloyd Bentsen when he drilled Dan Quayle in their vice presidential debate in 1988. To paraphrase... Mr. Bush I don't know any great world leaders, and no great world leaders are friends of mine. But Mr. Bush you are no great world leader.
Never was stalwart leadership calling forth the determination of an angry people more needed than following the attacks six years ago today. Rarely has a better opportunity been offered to lead a united nation and world into a generational struggle with every prospect for success. And never was such an opportunity squandered by a self absorbed and power hungry President than we saw in the aftermath of 9/11. Seeing the unity and goodwill thrust upon him by the terrorists this President saw fit to take the nation to needless war, divide us amongst ourselves and our international allies while eroding the very foundations of the nation by degrading the constitution we were founded upon.
Not only is Mr. Bush no great world leader, he seems to be making a determined effort to be the worst President ever in the history of this nation.
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