Test of Faith
J. D. Pendry
I wanted to write an article questioning what Americans value as demonstrated by what we are willing to pay for it.† I was going to share with you the minimum salary rates for professional athletes and talk some about how much money entertainers earn making the movies we watch and the music to which we listen.† I was then going to tell you about the minimum salaries for firemen, policemen, public school teachers and soldiers.† I even researched the information, unusual for me.† I decided that Iím not going to put the numbers out here because I trust you can make the comparison without a numbers display.†
On the surface, the impression one gets is that an athlete or entertainer, too often arrogant and self-centered, seems to be worth much more to our society than those who serve us, protect us and teach our children.† The more one studies the issue, though the more one is likely to conclude that Americans are merely human.† In my short half century on this planet, Iíve learned one thing about the creatures God placed here to be dominant over it.† Humans place high value on their leisure and entertainment and would rather not think about safety and security because of that unpleasant, gnawing, raw feeling it causes in our guts.† No, weíd rather let someone else worry about that. So, most of us do.† We rarely have a concern about it until someone tries to kill us and our leaders try to make it safe for us.† Then everyone has an opinion. Even me.
I find it increasingly difficult to comprehend what is going on in the world today.† I also find it difficult to know with certainty where I should stand on every issue.† I watch the news shows and the conservative talking head points me in one direction while he dissects the hapless liberal who was brave enough to come on his show.† I then flip the channel while a liberal talking head tries to convince his audience that his conservative guest is a war mongering, child killer who canít wait to add Iraqi oil money to his bank account.† I canít find a news program that provides me with information not slanted to some extent by the views of the newsperson or organization presenting it to me.† For example, if you tuned into a cable news channel with a liberal slant today, the story line is that many millions are protesting military action and America is becoming more isolated in its views from the rest of the world.† The sky is falling.† When you flip the channel, you hear that polls indicate 70 percent of Americans support military action against Iraq and the four opposing countries of France, Germany, China and Russia do not exactly isolate America especially when 34 other nations have spoken out it support.† Then again, a program that provides just the boring facts while expecting people to draw their own conclusions and form their own opinions probably wouldnít hold the interest of most Americans for very long.† News is entertainment nowadays and very profitable entertainment at that.† So keeping your interest right through the commercial advertisements is what the news programs aim to do.† Just as politicians do, one panders to the conservative audience while another to the liberal one.† Because of that, it becomes harder to form ones own opinion and they probably wouldnít like it much if you did.†
Iíve heard the debates from all the different angles.† Iíve listened to dozens of political, terror and military expert analysts.† Iíve also read quite a bit.† What I surmise is that the end of the comfortable, predictable world we knew arrived on September 11, 2001 and if we all cannot evaluate whatís going on around us, itís going to get increasingly more uncomfortable.† Here are some things Iíve observed during the past couple of weeks.† These are my thoughts.† Donít let them become yours.† Study the issues and form your own opinions.
The French have been in profitable trade with the Iraqis since before the first Gulf War and have continued that trade in spite of United Nations imposed (not United States imposed) sanctions.† The Iraqis fly Mirage (made in France) fighters.† Those who know also point out that France has multi-billion dollar oil contracts with Saddamís regime - now.† Some German companies allegedly sold equipment to Iraq that is useful to their weapons programs, again in the face of UN sanctions forbidding the sale to Iraq of multi use equipment.† For example, equipment designed for peaceful purposes but, also necessary for some military purposes.† Magnets, highly specialized aluminum tubes and equipment that can be used to process chemical and biological agents are examples.† The Russians have many billions of dollars in oil contracts and frankly, who knows what else invested in Iraq.† The Chinese, Iím not so sure about, except that they traditionally oppose the United States.† Our loss is generally their gain.† All of this causes me to raise an eyebrow and scratch my head a little when this collection of nation leaders point toward peace as their motive.† Bovine Scatology.† I expect they fear the embarrassment weíll share with the rest of the world when we start digging through the filing cabinets in Baghdad.† It could be ugly.† The Jacque and Gerry show may have a rapid decline in the ratings.
Some other things do not sit quite so well with me right now.† The worldís anti-American feeding frenzy is at the top of my list.† Some others bother me too, but Iíll get to those in just a minute.† Germany elected Gerhard Schroeder based on an anti-American political campaign.† The Germans are helping us now in Afghanistan and other important parts of the world.† I spent a good amount of time in Germany and have dear friends there.† Iím betting that Schroederís political career is drawing to a close.† Unfortunately, his actions along with those of France and Belgium may undo the very alliance that is one of the main reasons for a free Europe today.† In South Korea, the newly elected president directed his campaign toward young voters on a platform that questioned the need for an American military presence in his country.† He has been remarkably quiet recently, could it be something to do with the million-man Army and its insane leader thatís within a good hand grenade throw of his capitol city?† 34,000 American lives was the cost of freedom for his country.† Twice we entered Europe and sacrificed many American lives.† On both occasions, we saved the French from speaking German as their primary language.† There were 17, 18, and 19-year-old teenagers dieing in those landing craft and on the beaches at Normandy, American teenagers.† As we, a nation threatened and under attack, choose to defend ourselves what is it we get from them in return.† The French phrase la gratitude is obviously not well understood in France.† Another observation Iíve made is that it appears, to me anyway, that the French and German governments but mainly the French hope to lead a European union that openly opposes the United States on all fronts.† After all, opposing the United States is the fad now.† Proving to your countrymen that you do not need America is demonstrating how tough and independent you are.† I expect at the end of the day these friends will be obliged to see how well they can get along without America.† America is the one county on this earth who is responsible for their free and thriving existence.† Their actions and rhetoric is an odd way of saying Merci beaucoup.† You are either with us, orÖ† You are observing a major realignment of allies in this world.† Write it down in your notebook because it is a significant historical event.
I told you that there were other things on my mind.† The anti-war protesters are among them.† I donít want to degrade any person for expressing his opinion, thatís what a democracy is all about.† I do however question the sincerity and maybe even the knowledge of some of them.† The first thing that leaves the lips of every protestor is concern for the poor Iraqi people that we may harm with military action.† That too is a concern for anyone who wears an American military uniform, I assure you.† My question for the Susan Sarandins and Sean Penns and the other 21st century Jane Fondas of America is where were you and your protestors when 3000 people were slaughtered in the World Trade Center?† Where were you and your protestors when Saddam Hussein gassed 5000 of those poor Iraqi people, many of them babies, for which you profess concern?† Where were you when Saddam Husseinís army invaded Kuwait and raped, pillaged and plundered the entire country?
Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were out protesting the possible war yesterday as well.† These are men of faith if one minds their titles, Reverend Jackson and Reverend Sharpton.† Great champions of civil and human rights.† Where were you when 3000 people were murdered in the name of religion?† Where were you when the Taliban, also in the name of religion, was hanging people for listening to music or beating them for having the audacity to laugh aloud?† Where were you, when in the name of religion, the Taliban destroyed an ancient Buddhist shrine?† Like the other protestors, complicit in your silence is where you were. You realize too, I hope, that in the eyes of these murderers you too are just infidels.† ďMoses said to the Gadites and Reubenites, ďshall your countrymen go to war while you sit here?Ē ĖNumbers 32-6.† Reverends?
Iím tired of hearing the war for oil chant also.† Look, Iíll make this plain enough so anyone can understand.† If the United States was that interested in Iraqi oil, I guarantee you that Saddam Hussein would sell us all that we asked for.† And, probably at 10$ a barrel.† Iím sorry, but America is not desperate enough nor is our leadership insane enough to go to war for oil.
I know my rant has been quite long.† If youíre still with me, you understand that choosing your direction at a time such as this is difficult.† You can listen to everyone who has a point of view, but eventually youíll have to look elsewhere for the guidance you need.† Youíll have to look inside yourself and inside your faith.† Youíll need to have many chats with whatever Supreme Being you look to for guidance.† Then, based on your beliefs and values choose a course.† For me, the choice is clear.† I have faith in my country and trust in its leaders.† I firmly believe that right is on our side.† In my country, if I want to protest what America does, I can, in Iraq they cut out your tongue and kill your family for that.† I want no American to ever experience that.† I do not want an America that lives in the fear that someday Osama bin Laden or his kind will acquire a nuclear weapon.
Most importantly, I want no American soldier to march into war on my behalf not knowing that every ounce of my soul and faith in what he is doing is with him as are my prayers.† We can never arrive at an adequate minimum salary to pay for that service, so that is the least we can offer those who sacrifice for us.
Copyright © JD Pendry, 2003, All Rights Reserved