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From Where I Stand
While people go on being killed in Iraq every day and more and more Taliban creep back into Afghanistan every month, and war threatens to engulf even more of the Middle East now, an issue brews in Japan that could change the geopolitical balance of the globe. But few Westerners are aware of it, and almost no one here is talking about it.
In the First World War, when diplomacy had ended and war was at full bore, when communication systems were archaic and innocent people were trapped on both sides of the line, we used carrier pigeons to shuttle messages from one side of a border to the other. This time, it seems all we have left to use if we want to know what’s happening on the other side are people. Common people.
What a couple of weeks this has been!
First we got a presidential veto of legislation designed to enlarge embryonic stem cell research capabilities which begins a major moral discussion for us all.
Here's the basic problem with war: It's planned by politicians and fought by the rest of a country. At this point, over 90 percent of the victims of war, the United Nations reports and researchers confirm, are not soldiers. They are civilians -- and most of them women and children.
As a citizen of this country, I am concerned about the way the
government has treated the Constitution and the Congress.
As a Christian, I am equally concerned about the way this country has
conducted the war against Iraq, now euphemistically called "The Global
War Against Terror."
We are a country held hostage by fear.
It’s difficult to go through an airport these days -- and I go through
lots of them here and around the world -- without doing some serious
soul-searching about it. The famous question repeats itself over and over
again in the tiniest of ways in me: Are we better off today than we were
five years ago?
While Sunnis were fighting Shi'as and Arab
Palestinians were fighting Jewish Israelis and U.S. Christians were
fighting Iraqi Muslims, I was sitting in a Buddhist monastery on the top
of a mountain in Taiwan. From the mountain top, the city in the distant
valley below was barely a memory, a phantom of another kind of life. Noise
and tumult, smoke and car horns had yet to touch this place.
Sounds idyllic, doesn't it? Shades of Shangri-la. A refuge. A hiding
place from life. A moment out of time.
Here, on the top of this mountain, I heard something that made me
think. "Nowadays," I heard a young woman say, "People take on religion
just to hurt one another."
Who are we fooling -- except maybe
The national myth is that we hold a common moral ethic, free of
cooptation by any particular religious group and devoted to religious
equality. Materialistic, secular USA, that blind behemoth of national
equality, child of the Enlightenment and beacon of freedom to all,
promises the world to leave faith to the faithful and legislate justice
About eight weeks ago, I dedicated this column to the meeting of Iraqi-American women in New York City. (Iraqi
ttwomen: Confused, maybe, but clear nevertheless) The problem with articles like that, of course, is that though they give us a filter through which we can view, interpret, and evaluate the hard news that plays on the front pages of our newspapers or on our newscasts, we are seldom able to follow up on either the people involved or the events to which they referred.