20060729

The Leykam Initiative

this is an excerpt from an email from my friend Peter. i've known him since high school and is one of the most intelligent and eccentric people i know. something in this really struck a chord with me and thought i should put it here......

Sorry for the long mass email rant. I've been searching in vain for any intelligent commentary on the current crisis that is, I fear, already turning disastrous for the US, Israel and Lebanon. Not finding it, I thought I would broadcast my $.02 into the ether with the hope of provoking more thought than rage. If you find my thoughts offensive, please use them as the start of a conversation rather than an argument. These days people seem only capable of approaching people that they disagree with with screams and invective. A world where dialogue is impossible terrifies me infinitely more than the bombs that are its logical consequence.


I have been trying to figure out exactly what has been going on in the world around me for the past couple of days, which has been an exercise in futility. At last, after examining my soul, I have figured out why the logic underlying our actions in Lebanon has eluded me- pin pointing the exact moment where I went wrong. It was in my high school shop class. Mr. Sutter was in his office and some of the cool kids were going in to the room where the varnish was kept to get high. They would take the lids off of all of the cans of paint thinner and shellac, turn off the exhaust fan and giggle uncontrollably as their brain cells died by the thousands. I can't help but wonder that if I had spent several months in that room basting in the chemical bliss, the actions of my government and of Israel, would make perfect sense. The fact that several of my classmates who passed their high school careers huffing paint thinner and sniffing glue have been appointed to high level positions in the current administration only underscores my point. They invited me in, but as I was still heeding Nancy's advice I replied with a smug "No, thank you." Who knows, if I had followed them in I would probably be Undersecretary of State by now.

But I have finally found someone who sums up what I'm feeling. It was a poster on Rapture Ready, a website where believers in evangelical Christianity gleefully await the second coming. He writes:

"Is it time to get excited? I can't help the way I feel. For the first time in my Christian walk, I have no doubts that the day of the Lords appearing is upon us. I have never felt this way before, I have a joy that bubbles up every-time I think of him, for I know this is truly the time I have waited for so long. Am I alone in feeling guilty about the human suffering like my joy at his appearing somehow fuels the evil I see everywhere. If it were not for the souls that hang in the balance and the horror that stalks man daily on this earth, my joy would be complete. For those of us who await his arrival know, somehow we just know it won't be long now, the Bridegroom cometh rather man is ready are not."

In order to truly capture my mood, of course, you would have to read "excited" as "terrified" and "joy that bubbles up" as "fear and loathing that envelops me in a mind numbing rage".. but you get the idea. Yes kids, the world is ending and, although I suspect that we'll wind up on the burning for all eternity in a lake of fire side of things rather than walking with the Bridegroom, I can't deny the anticipation in the air.

I've heard a lot of people arguing that Israel is justified in spreading death and mayhem throughout Lebanon because Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers. Of course, by that measure Hezbollah would be justified due to Israels imprisonment of hundreds of Lebanese. And I would imagine that either side could go back and forth down to Cain's reply to God's inquiry about the freshly murdered Able, "Am I my brother's keeper?" One Bible scholar argued that the entire rest of the Bible is an answer to this - the first question asked of God by man. He felt that the answer was a resounding "Yes". Apparently my government and that of Israel would disagree, despite the fact that they endorse ideologies based on the Old Testament.

Most of you know me as a lapsed Catholic. Its not that I don't like Jesus per se, we simply agree to disagree on a variety of points and don't let that get in the way of our friendship. I'm not so lapsed, however, that I don't get offended when my tax dollars are spent funding an army that sees fit to drop a White Phosphorous bomb on a Greek Orthodox Church housing refugees. White Phosphorus is an incendiary weapon that is illegal to use against soldiers, let alone civilians huddled in a church for shelter. It burns through to the bone, and the chemicals invade victim's bodies causing organ failure. What strategic goal was advanced by destroying a church? Or a dairy farm for that matter? What did Israel gain by killing UN observers? Or leveling apartment buildings in Beirut?

Why is my government standing in the way of a cease fire in Lebanon, as civilians are being targeted? There are no rational reasons behind Israel's attacks. If they were simply aiming at Hezbollah, trying to take out their missiles that would be understandable and justified. Hezbollah's rocket attacks on Northern Israel are unjustified, illegal and utterly insane. (And if I spend insufficient time condemning their war crimes its simply because my tax dollars don't subsidize them) However, in attacking Lebanon as a whole, in destroying the central government, economy and civil infrastructure, they are sewing death and chaos that has no conceivable chance of damaging Hezbollah. I can think of no war where the arithmetic of collective punishment has successfully made people support their attackers. And the central government of Lebanon would be, if nurtured instead of being destroyed, the only force that could disarm Hezbollah.

And then there's Iraq, which burns on despite the fact that we've changed the channel. Muqtada Al Sadr - who's coalition controls 30% of the Iraqi Parliament is gathering soldiers to got to Lebanon to fight Israel. How long will it be before they abandon that as unfeasible and decided to attack Israel's friends in Iraq? Every bullet, gallon of gas, roll of toilet paper or piece of food that our 100,000 soldiers in Iraq use has to be trucked for hundreds of miles through Shi'ite territory, and the major Iraqi Shi'ite organizations that make up the Iraqi government, police and army have long friendships with Hezbollah. I was no fan of the invasion of Iraq, but I have no desire to see the Green Zone become Dien Bien Phu on the Tigris.

I have called my congressmen, but they feel that we should support Israel. However, in this I do not see us as being good friends to Israel at all. Real friends are the only people that you can rely on to extend a restraining hand when you're damaging yourself. This is codependency with cluster bombs, and in the end the two of us will drag each other down.

I just returned from a church where I heard a courageous young woman who was caught in Lebanon. Deciding that other people needed to be evacuated more than her, she and her sister arranged their own way out of the battlefield - a taxi to the Syrian border that sped past the burnt out shells of cars and buildings. In that spirit, I offer my place in the Rapture to any of you who feels that they need it. I can find my own way home.

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