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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Power (05/10/04)

TITLE: They will do none
By Mary C Legg


They who have the power to hurt and will do none
That do not do the thing they most would show

Shakespeare, Sonnet 15

As kids, we played Pass-the-button or Electricity, surreptitiously sliding an unseen object through conjoined hands while the person in the center searched for its whereabouts. Governments, political organizations and businessses play the game, too—passing the responsibility and blame onto others. The Geneva Conventions were not posted; the soldiers were told to humiliate prisoners through intense psychological and physical stress to get information.

Each in turn is unwilling to accept blame—behavior, unacceptable by God's law. All people must be treated with respect as God's children. How reliable is information extracted through duress? Ask the interrogators of the Spanish Inquisition or the victims of the Salem Witch trials. Very likely, they'll say anything gained through torture is unreliable. Eventually the victim will concede to release him from further agony. If it is a crime to sexually harass a co-worker, how can abuse to foreign nationals in their own country be justified? US soldiers involved in the scandal are no different than Nazis in their abuses of human rights and the US government equivocates as much as those on trial in Nuremberg. "We were just following orders," infuriated the appalled world in the aftermath of death and concentration camps. Really there is no difference in the disregard for the sanctity of human life.

Exodus 23: 1-8 is written in chiasmus, enveloping the key verses within the petals of a lotus:

4. If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass of him that hateth thee going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him.
5. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under its burden, thou shalt forbear to pass him: thou shalt surely release it with him.

Note that they are both positive commandments. You shall help your enemy when he is in distress, running against the common nature of man. Retaliation is easier: the US making unwarranted accusations and then invading. Had this happened as a domestic policy-- police descending without a proper search warrant or reasonable evidence for suspicions of illicit activity-- the community would immediately protest the injustice. But given someone we dislike or a political enemy, there are no restraints on behavior or accusations.

Abraham Lincoln and Jimmy Carter were not very popular—one got shot and the other lives in relative obscurity. Both served their enemy.

Paired, the couplets are:

1. Thou shalt not utter a false report; put not thy hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness
8 and thou shalt take no gift for a gift blindeth them that have sight, and perverteth the words of the righteous.

2. Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou bear witness in a cause
7. keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay not; for I will not justify the wicked.

3. neither shalt thou favor a poor man in his cause.
6. thou shalt not wrest the judgment of the poor in his cause

The first concerns itself with favoritism and bias. Evil is easier to accept when it is advantageous to an individual. Europeans question the intentions of the Iraqi invasion, because it was unprovoked. There was no known relationship between the destruction of the Twin Towers and Iraq. Nor did the US have any evidence of WMD. Iraq was admitting UN inspectors and denying the accusations. Saddam was no benevolent king, but the US went against international sanctions. Much of the world believes that the motivation for the invasion was the Bush-Cheney-Halliburton factor of greed. Difficult to discount.

The Mirror has added complications to the already existing crisis by running scandal headlines of abuses within the British forces. Were it general gossip without faked pictures, it might have been ignored; but it was slander against a highly respected military unit bearing Her Majesty's name, constituting a slur against the throne. Gossip and false reports destroy the credibility of journalism, and the honor of the remaining military forces, exposing them to more violence and danger than they have yet experienced. Fury explodes in the east where people have been detained without justifiable reasons as a result of paid informers. How reliable is the gathered information? Does putting millions of dollars on a person's head buy reliable information or create an outlaw situation reminiscent to the bounty-hunters and slave-trackers of the past? Has the US government come up with the elusive, terminally ill Osama bin Laden yet? What about the disgrace and harm done to Laden's more honorable family who funded grants and scholarships to American universities. Has the terrorism been contained or now spreads like a wildfire? The US is itself becoming a pariah state as a result of its bullying politics. How much more will the gullible Americans believe from their very equivocal George III?

Ah, what happened to George III? He went mad and the colonists revolted.

But more importantly, look at the second pair:

2. Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou bear witness in a cause
7. keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay not; for I will not justify the wicked.

The individual conscience is weighed not by fellow man, but by God. Each person, whoever he may be, is responsible to God for his actions. There is no neat hiding place or loopholes to claim: "I didn't know the rules" or "I was just following orders," God is the judge of all men. It takes courage to stand outside social pressure. It takes courage to speak out and submit to external pressures. For those who blew the whistle, for those who bring bad news and investigate the wrongs of this world; it takes grave moral courage that accepts final responsibility before God.

986 words

Member Comments
Member Date
helene willms05/18/04
wonderful article. you've reminded us to utilize our god given courage to stand up for what is right. great job
Naomi Deutekom05/18/04
You have done an excellent job of putting this article together. I leaves one with much to think about.
Melanie Kerr 05/20/04
Very well done. you drew from a number of resources and fleshed out a compelling argument. Too often the church is silent when it should be shouting the loudest.
Kevin Kindrick05/29/04
Wow. This is a very compelling article, and it took a lot of courage to step out and say something against the popular grain. I'll admit, I disagree with some of the statements you made. I support the war on Iraq. But I have utmost respect for you and your willingness to speak out. Keep writing, God will use your boldness and talent for His purposes.
God bless.