J. Daryl Byler has a wonderful article in the January 17, 2006 issue of Peace Signs a newsletter published by the Mennonite Church entitled, "What A Difference 5 Years Can Make".
He says in part:
If anyone had said in early 2001 that the United States would be spending nearly $500 billion for military operations by 2006, they would have been dismissed as naïve. In 2001, U.S. military spending hovered around $300 billion. The Cold War was over and while a "peace dividend" was never fully realized, at least military spending had leveled off.
And then came Sept. 11, 2001.
So much has changed in the last five years. Runaway military spending is only part of the picture. In the name of preserving freedom and democracy, the United States is acting less and less like a free and democratic nation. Thick metal bollards anchored in tons of concrete now ring all major buildings on Capitol Hill. Barricades and fences impede the flow of people and vehicles. No expense has been spared in trying to "terror-proof" the U.S. capital.
More significantly, the United States has sacrificed long-standing principles and treaties at the altar of national security. National leaders now accept preventive war-going to war based on the fear of being attacked at a future date. U.S. officials equivocate rather than plainly denounce the use of torture. The Bush administration continues to explore how to build new nuclear weapons while demanding that other countries not do so.
Might the words of Jesus be relevant for us today? "Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it" (Luke 17:33). What if instead of being consumed with U.S. security, our nation chose to "lose" its life for the benefit of others?
U.S. Americans use more than three times our fair share of the world's resources. With only 4 percent of the world's population, the United States produces a quarter of the world's carbon dioxide emissions and accounts for more than half of the world's military expenditures.
What difference might it make if the United States consumed less and shared more? What if instead of increasing military budgets, the United States would increase its commitment to debt relief, fair trade, development aid and diplomacy?
So much has changed in the last five years. Much of it seems for the worse.
Would that the next five years be the start of a new trend-one focused on "losing" our lives for the benefit of others. In so doing, we just might find the elusive security for which we yearn.
Mr. Byler's article has led me to further think about our national policies. Is the "War On Terror" being used to politicaly manipulate Americans into paying for a military/industrial agenda? Obviously a war on terror is endless. The choice of words is interesting. Have you noticed that the current administration does not say a "War On Terrorists" or a "War On Terrorism", but rather a "War on Terror" which basically is a blank check to tax and spend at unprecedented rates and to deprive Americans and nonAmericans of their civil liberties and human rights forever, without end. Terror is a part of human life and will always be with us.
I think Mr. Byler has it right. What we are seeing is a paradoxical consequence of current policies where in the name of freedom, people are less free, in the name of promoting democracy, practices like detention and torture are less democratic.
If only the so called Christian right really understood the teachings of Jesus, things would be quite different. As Jesus said, "By their fruit, yee shall know them." It appears that the fruit of the current administration is bitter if not rotten.