Tuesday, March 21, 2006

God's Fool

Everything I write is crap. Almost everything. Lofty verbiage about ideals. Wordy homage to pragmatism. Oh, I’m very principled. For a theorist. But there languishes today, at this very hour, a man in a prison in Afghanistan. Our Afghanistan. The one we liberated from tyranny. The one we brought freedom to. Afghanistan of the Purple Thumbs. The man? Abdul Rahman. Oh, a Moslem, then – I mean, his name is Abdul Rahman. Might as well be Mohammad bin Islam. But no, actually. A Christian. A former Moslem. Which is, of course, a capital crime in Afghanistan. So he is awaiting execution for being Christian, in this land to which we sent our sons to free. Abdul is not free. He is a prisoner not only of his faith (God bless him), but for the inherent cruelty of Islam.

We read where his prosecutor calls him a traitor, a microbe, who “should be cut off and removed from the rest of Muslim society and should be killed.” His judge waves Abdul’s Bible in the air - like a red flag, like a bloody shirt, like an abomination - and declares, “If he doesn't regret his conversion, the punishment will be enforced on him. And the punishment is death.” His jailor makes chopping motions with her hand (her hand – so progress is being made!), as she says, “We will cut him into little pieces.”

Is this why we have shed our blood? Sharia, the religious law of Islam, is embedded in the new Afghan constitution, and supercedes any civil right. What, then, of freedom? Nothing, of freedom. We fought and died and sacrificed for these people, not so they could be free, but so they would not sponsor terrorism. That is the ugly, painful reality. We want them to be free. We do not have power to make them free. We have the power to punish governments that sponsor terror, and we will use that power. As to the rest, well, I, for one, know something about futility.

President Bush is a politician, and being a politician requires compromise. The Emperor Constantine converted by decree the Roman Empire to Christianity. Well, um, he made some laws, anyway. But he himself was not baptized until he lay on his death bed. What was that about? He knew that as Emperor he would be required to do horrific things. Unchristian things. Lincoln, a humane and godly man, and eventually a Christian, sent hundreds of thousands of men to their deaths. So we understand this idea, about good leaders doing, frankly, monstrous things. Constantine was not baptized until his death bed, because he did not wish to dishonor his baptism. A legalism? Perhaps. But a solid understanding of what it takes to rule.

Sometimes governments can’t afford to do the right thing. How ugly. How cowardly. How unworthy of our heritage and our principles. But how true. We make pretty noises about paying any price. But they are noises. Our job, as fathers, is to protect our children. Our job as citizens is to protect our society. Our job as men of honor is to uphold our principles. I see a conflict, here.

I once fought a battle for the principle of the matter. I was right, and sought justice. Not only did I not get justice, but I damaged my family, irreparably. My job, as a father, was not to fight for principles. It was to protect my boys. Stupid stupid stupid.

What is it Mr. Bush’s job to protect?

I don’t know what to do, about poor, precious, faithful Abdul Rahman. To remain a righteous land, we must do what we can. But what is that? Go to war? Send in a task force? I would volunteer for it – but I don’t see it happening. Innocent blood is shed every day.

You know what? I’ve talked myself into it. We must save him. We must stand for something more than anti-terrorism. We must be heroes in a craven world. We are condemned to it. We must be.

Looks like I haven’t learned anything after all, from my loss, from my pain.


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