Leading Ethically Only is an educational outreach of Leadership Ethics Online (LEO). Essays range widely--from ethical analysis of the news, to ethical challenges to leaders in society, to personal reflections of an ethical nature. We welcome your thoughts and criticisms to make us better.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa:
A Man To Be Remembered

In Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2, Shakespeare wrote, the good men do "is often interred with their bones."  Once we are gone, only a very small few remember us.  Many readers will not know the name of this long-forgotten American academic and U.S. Senator.  Let us resurrect only a small bit of his esteemed memory and benefit from it.  Readers are encouraged to read the Wikipedia entry on S. I. Hayakawa, though it scratches only the surface of his rich life.

Why dig up the memory of a PhD who was both master and defender of the English language, a semanticist who understood the power of language in itself--in a time where so many Americans are more concerned out our financial crises and their own futures?  True to my own nature, I will connect history past with current ethical concerns.

Our Feelings of Fear,
The Power of Words

We live in an era of fear and, in such a time, our human emotions and mental functions spill out into words. Many feel helpless, powerless, and lash out at family, coworkers, neighbors, and others. For those who have been driven into bankruptcy, with everything they once had stripped away, or for those who fear that future condition, words seem to be all they have left, and many are negative and destructive.

There is an old, false saying: "Sticks and stones may break my bones but your words never will hurt me." Physical harms usually can be healed. Verbal harms often never are healed. There is more moral power in your words than you ever have or had in your bank account.

Hayakawa himself became interested in language because of a man who used the mere power of words--written by his hand, expelled into microphones from the air in his lungs and up through his vocal cords--Adolf Hitler. Hayakawa wrote about a republished edition of one of his great works:
The original version of this book, Language in Action, published in 1941, was in many respects a response to the dangers of propaganda, especially as exemplified in Adolf Hitler's success in persuading millions to share his maniacal and destructive views. It was the writer's conviction then, as it remains now, that everyone needs to have a habitually critical attitude towards language — his own as well as that of others — both for the sake of his personal well being and for his adequate functioning as a citizen. Hitler is gone, but if the majority of our fellow citizens are more susceptible to the slogans of fear and race hatred than to those of peaceful accommodation and mutual respect among human beings, our political liberties remain at the mercy of any eloquent and unscrupulous demagogue.
If you have economic fears today, as many of us do, fear even more the misused power of your words, written or spoken. Though everything else may be taken from you, you always remain the complete ruler and autocrat of your own speech. Please, I beg you, do not take for granted this great power you have.

With your words you have the power to build up, or tear down; to speak truth, or lies; to nourish love, or fuel hate; to deepen trust, or sow doubt; to inspire, or depress. Your words have more power than any money you ever had, have, or will have.

If one person writes a gift check for ten thousand dollars to a stranger, that stranger will remember the gift, at least for a while. Yet if a person speaks only a few phrases or sentences to a stranger, at a particular moment when the stranger's psyche is uniquely open and sensitive to what is said, those words can have the power to change a life forever. Some have changed from bums to billionaires. Others have changed from stable to suicides.

The Moral Content of Language Today

Hayakawa died before the spread of such phenomena as "Gangsta Rap," but he already knew well the escalating degeneracy of the English language. I myself am part of the Baby Boomer generation of the 1950s, and my generation contributed greatly to the intentional disregard of educated, standard uses of the best English.

Our Age of the Individual taught us that the individual person's values and forms of communication and behaviors were "just as good" as any other individual's. By right of simply being alive, the breathe in our lungs "validated" whatever we said as "true for us."

I remember one day, as a freshman in college, "hearing myself" speak a stream of curse words that were "hip."  I thought to myself, "I came to college with more respect for my self than this, and used better grammar and vocabulary.  Is this what I came to college to become?"  From that day, I determined I would become educated, and use that education.  I decided to avoid the use of gutter-language for its "shock value" in polite society.

To intentionally butcher the English language, or to intentionally avoid learning not to is an excuse for the intellectually and morally degenerate.  Why would I say such a thing?
  • Animals have language.  They make their vocalizations to each other, and strangers, to communicate.  Some have very complex, others have very primitive language.  No other creature has the capacity for language we do.
  • Yet millions of people use language based on emotional reaction, not thinking or higher level communication.  It is often not many steps away from animalistic grunts or growls.  "F*** You!" is faster, easier than thinking and being human.  It can mean anything, mostly contemptuous, selfish, and harmful, but it can be intended for humor.  Now, to save time, many abbreviate the previous epithet to "FU."
  • Degeneration of language abuse continues to spiral downward with "texting."  Everyone is learning immediate, reactive, un-thought, ambiguous abbreviations to "communicate."  Ignorance is our norm, and many misunderstandings, arguments, fights, and break-ups, have happened due to this "great technological tool."
  • Adults and youth show this decline in their abilities to use language.  Even leaders send emails riddled with signs of ignorance or disregard for careful communication.
Hayakawa as Defender of Democracy,
Or Racist-Elitist? 

During the 1960s and 1970s, there were several major movements to displace (1) English as our national language and (2) standard English usage as normative and expected for all Americans in employment and government.  These movements were intellectual expressions of the privatization and subjectivization of language use alluded to above (whether one cites it as beginning with the Beat Generation, or not.

Large immigrant groups, such as Spanish language speakers, lobbied they needed linguistic, social, and political affirmation and accommodation.  Many said they neither wanted to learn English, nor should.  Other, indigenous large English dialect groups, such as the Ebonics Movement, lobbied for the same.  I remember watching a program on television, when I lived in Chicago, where Black intellectuals debated--50% for, 50% against--whether or not language developed after slavery, or in the ghettos, was or was not to be affirmed and accommodated.  I thought how many other groups might petition for the same.  We might have Redneck-English, or something else.

On leaving the U.S. Senate in 1976, Hayakawa formed an organization, U.S. English, Inc, dedicated to "preserving the unifying role of the English language in the United States."  Some declared him to be a racist for this action.  Hayakawa was Japanese origin, yet he founded this group.  Why?  As a PhD in English and an expert in semantics and linguistics; as a former president of a university; and, then, as a U.S. Senator, he famously said, "I never could have done any of these things without learning and mastering the English language."

Hayakawa was no racist.  He was an American committed to democracy.  He knew that if these lobbying groups were allowed to have their way, their constituencies would be cutting themselves off from every opportunity dependent on mastery of the best English.  He was loving well-intentioned people trying to defend things ultimately harmful to their own peoples.  I note, according to the website of his organization, that only 30 states have English as their official language, which amazes me.

Words as Tools for Morality

Now while I am a parent of four adult children, I cannot say that all of them have chosen to master the English language as they could or should--at least not to date.  The oldest has an undergraduate degree in English literature, but the rest still are making their own decisions as to the levels of English mastery they believe are required for them.  And all are "texters," though their father is not.

What most people fail to realize is that mastering the English language has an impact on both their intellectual and moral development.  Indeed, the greater their mastery of English, the greater is their potential to think clearly, and to become--potentially--better moral agents towards others.

Note, however, that Hayakawa became interested in language because of Adolf Hitler, his ideology written and verbal.  In our time, we have many genocides, or criminals like Bernard Madoff, who use language persuasively for harmful purposes.  I understand this.  Yet let me discuss briefly why we can become better people intellectually and morally through our mastery of language (any language).
  • Like animals, we can, if we wish, grunt and curse, use chopped-off, elliptical, ambiguous, privatistic bits of words and phrases.  Those who love us most will try to figure out what we are saying, unless we learned from them.  Then we are fine, so long as we do not communicate out of that circle.
  • Human language separates us from the animals.  To learn language--if our parents do not know, or will not teach it to us--we must work.  We must learn grammar, syntax, vocabulary, style, rhetoric.  Excellent language is not emotional grunting and texting.  It is a dynamic, creative, highly complex, intelligent, social human act.
  • Language, at its best, enables us to be better moral people.  Nearly all in our use of language has moral components, when used according to accepted standards.  We listen carefully.  We pause before communicating.  Why?  We must think of the "sender's" content sent to our ears or eyes.  we must consider context, vocabulary, tone, educational level, emotions involved, or "subtexts" of things unstated but implied or potential.  When we have done all this, THEN we respond.  All this is a moral process, an interaction between people where so many things are possible as outcomes to it..
 You Have Power In Your Words

Regardless of your current financial condition, regardless of whether you (to date--the future is open) have mastered the English language, or another if that is your native form, you have real power in your words.

You may feel powerless.  Yet know that within your mind, coupled with your powers of speech and writing, you have real power, at all times and in all places.  Remember the person who encouraged you when you were a child.  Remember the person who hurt you deeply with words.  You have an unlimited amount of potential power either to help or hurt others with your communications.

Until the day or night comes when your powers of communication are taken away, temporarily or forever, I beg you to cherish this wonderful human gift; to cultivate it as a sign of your self-worth and dignity; and, to use it for good.  You have that power.

Perhaps too you will remember S.I. Hayakawa, for his life's work and its worth to us in our troubled times, where some use words for good and others for evil.  Join with me in our alliance for the former!  JDW

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Working With Briars in Your Life

Life Makes Messes
The other day I decided to take my chain saw and clear away a large branch that had fallen in my side yard some time ago.  A strong wind blew that limb down.  I just let it lay where it fell for a while, still attached to the trunk at the top, hanging down at a forty-five degree angle.  No sap ran through it any more and week by week, its once-green leaves turned brown and wrinkled in death.  I drove in and out of my house for some time and decided it was time to clean up the mess.

I own an inexpensive Poulan saw, but it serves its purpose for a homeowner.  I started cutting off the small limbs, in lengths large enough to fit neatly into my truck bed.  As I cut three or four, I put down the saw, running still, and quickly picked up the cut branches and placed them in the truck.  Progress was fast.  I cut the limbs as I came to them and before long, I was cutting the large center limb in five foot lengths.

When there was only another ten feet or so, dangling in the air and still attached to the tree, I attached one end of it to a pulling chain, and the other end to a towing bar on my truck.  It pulled right off and fell to the ground.  I cut that into two pieces, both heavy, but manageable.  I then looked at a number of trash limbs growing all around the trunk, green and wild-looking.  I decided to clean around the trunk to trim the tree up better than I had cared for it in some time.

So I began to move quickly, cutting this one and that one.  I reached into a particularly messy bunch of greenery on the right side of the trunk, and then felt scratches on my hand.  Looking more closely, I saw that a thick briar, one that had been growing for a while, was somewhat hidden among the scattered little branches.  I realized I had to slow down, look with care, and cut both the small green branches around that briar, which were entangled with it.

I cut away the branches and that briar, loaded all carefully into the truck, then hauled it to the back of my thirty acres.  I knew a wet-weather drain where I would dump the results of my work.  I backed up carefully to the little drop-off, put on the emergency brake, then carefully remembered the thorny briar enmeshed amid the dead and live branches I had cut.  I slowed down, took my time, determined that the briar would not get me again.  The load came off with little trouble, and I drove back to the house.

But on the way back, I thought about what I had done during the two hours this work took.  I decided there was a little moral lesson to be found in this little incident, so I share it with you now.

There Are Messes in Our Lives

Life is like that tree.  One day, everything is fine, green and growing, beautiful and blowing in the wind.  Then, due to no fault of ours, troubles comes, strong forces break up what was fine and beautiful.  And we have a mess in our life.  There it sits, a reminder of what was, but no longer is.

We have several choices and, in the messes that have blown into my life, I have made them all.  We can get up every day, ignore the mess, and let one day follow after another.  We know it's there.  We may look the other way and see it out of the corner of our eye.  We may be aggravated it's there.  We may think back to when there was no mess, but are too preoccupied with memories of the past to deal with the present.  We may even be too bull-headed to change our routine and remove it.  A mess unattended to will stay there as long as it's allowed to remain.

But if we are wise, one day we decide to deal with it.  We have to set aside time.  We have to assess what tools we need.  And then we start.  We have to take the parts of the mess that appear closest at hand.  We take charge of them, one at a time.  We do not rush to the central, bigger parts of the mess.  We must remove the smaller parts, master them, and put them away, one by one.  After all, our messes often have larger issues attached to the smaller ones, and we never will get to the really tough ones until we have mastered what we should first.

Yet after we finally clean up the mess, we still must be careful.  The original destruction may be cleaned up.  But if we look closely, there are still little things left, very real and alive, that are waiting to grow into bigger problems later.  If we are presumptuous, we may jump right in and think we can remove them without much trouble.  But just like the big messes in our lives, they still can inflict pain and damage their own way.  So it is best to be warned by what they are, and to be just as careful with them as if they were as big as they someday will be, if we do not remove them now.  JDW

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thoughts Mourning a Murdered Medical Team in Afghanistan

I just read an NPR story of a medical team killed in Afghanistan.  Most of them were members of the International Assistance Mission, a Christian organization with the following values:  "dependency on God, love for all, teamwork, accountability, learning, quality work."  They had just completed two weeks of traveling in villages doing eye surgeries, other medical care, and assistance to the poor.  I enclose a quotation from that NPR article:
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press that they killed the foreigners because they were "spying for the Americans" and "preaching Christianity."
Frans said the International Assistance Mission, the longest serving nongovernmental organization operating in Afghanistan, is registered as a nonprofit Christian organization but does not proselytize....

Among the dead was team leader Tom Little, an optometrist from Delmar, New York, who has been working in Afghanistan for more than 30 years.... Another relief organization, Bridge Afghanistan, said on its website that the group included one of its members, Dr. Karen Woo of London.

Little, who was overseeing eye hospitals in Kabul and two other major cities as well as small clinics in three smaller towns, was expelled by the Taliban government in August 2001 after the arrest of eight Christian aid workers — two Americans and six Germans — for allegedly trying to convert Afghans to Christianity. He returned to Afghanistan after the Taliban government was toppled in November 2001 by U.S.-backed forces.

According to Frans, two members of the team worked for IAM, two were former IAM workers and four others were affiliated with other organizations, which he did not disclose. He said five of the Americans were men and one was a woman. The Briton and German also were women.

Gen. Agha Noor Kemtuz, police chief in Badakhshan province, said the victims, who had been shot, were found Friday next to three bullet-riddled four-wheel drive vehicles in Kuran Wa Munjan district. He said villagers had warned the team that the area was dangerous, but the foreigners said they were doctors and weren't afraid. He said local police said about 10 gunmen robbed them and killed them one by one.

"We are a humanitarian organization. We had no security people. We had no armed guards. We had no weapons," he said.
I have three responses to this tragedy:  one, from the Muslim point of view; the second, from a humanitarian point of view; and the third, from Christian point of view.

The Muslim Point of View

First, Islam forbids any proselytizing as a capital crime.  These clearly were brave and committed Christian medical personnel.  Who knows what they said, or if they prayed in the name of Jesus Christ, for their patients.  One website I found had a photo of a Muslim holding a child's picture book, "A Children's Guide to the Bible," though I was unable to learn if that material was captured as "contraband" from the possessions of these people.  If these good people were proselytizing, they knew they were risking their lives in these dangerous territories.

It is entirely possible the Muslim killers took medical compassion alone and in itself as proselytizing.  Normally, we think of proselytizing as "actively discussing conversion."  But if you were a Muslim father or mother whose child had an eye deformity and disease, and a group of strangers came in asking for nothing else than permission to help heal your child, then left after doing it, would you not be grateful?  And if your own religion offered no medical help to you, would you not perhaps, perhaps, ask yourself in curiosity, "What kind of God would put so much love in people's hearts?"  So there is some potential proselytizing force and power in medical assistance, without prayers, active "conversion talk," or literature.

What disappoints me, as an outside observer, is that I hear nothing from Muslims who disagree with such murders.  Oh there are some "condemnations" in various quarters.  But these are isolated, weak, then disappear.  There is no mass Muslim movement to find and punish the Muslims who do such horrible deeds.  Why?  I have a simple theory.  I would like Muslim readers to respond whether or not I am accurate.

Muslims are united by the Shahadah, their confession of faith--"There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger"--and the Qur'an forbids killing another Muslim.  So I think Muslims will condemn bad Muslim deeds, but are constitutionally and theologically chained not to harm another Muslim acting on his or her own faith.  If I am correct, this is a problem for us all.  Would Muslims please respond? 

The Humanitarian Point of View

There are many humanitarian organizations, religious and secular.  To desire to do nothing else but good for others, regardless of motive, is a beautiful and wonderful thing.  But when you are trying to serve Muslim peoples who have a theological doctrine to kill, there is no way to control how any Muslims will apply that doctrine.  To serve such peoples requires the deepest commitment to humanitarian mission, and to embrace the risk of being killed wrongly, due to religious conviction, if not hatred.

Now I know not all Muslims apply the Qur'an the same way, just as Jews and Christians do not apply their holy books the same way.  But in Afghanistan and some other Muslim nations, there are many--either a majority, or fighting and killing to become a ruling elite--who are dedicated to force and violence to ensure their form of Islam is the rule of law.  The Qur'an includes force and violence, so they have divine sanctions from their holy book, when they see applications.

So in these nations and regions, humanitarian aid is extremely high-risk, when services provided for some willing and accepting Muslims is taken by unwilling and rejecting Muslim observers as transgressing the Qur'an's commands requiring death.  There are humanitarian assistance agencies serving many Muslim nations for decades, so they have known these things for a long time.  Yet they still believe strongly enough in their missions to love Muslims they serve, despite the risk of suffering and death.  One only can be impressed by the strength and durability of their love.

The Christian Point of View

Christians who intentionally go into Muslim lands know there are many there who consider Christians, Jews, and others, as religious enemies to be killed.  They know there are Muslims who enter lands where they live in order to kill, but those who are members of organizations like the International Assistance Mission go to give life.  Such Christians as those in IAM go in faith, hope, and love, despite the dangers to themselves.

When they go into Muslim lands, they know they will meet Muslims who believe, because the Qur'an teaches them this, that Christians, Jews, and non-Muslims are their divinely revealed enemies.  These Christians also know there are many Muslims who have heard or know millions of others, who call themselves Christians, are ready, willing, and able to kill as many Muslims as possible.  The theological and relational cards are stacked against them.

So why do they take such risks?  The answer is simple really and it can be found in the person and teachings of Jesus Christ.  Setting aside the behaviors of the many Christians who do not obey these, let us see why such people as those murdered in the past several days do what they do.
I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.  Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.  And just as you want men to treat you, treat them in the same way.  And if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners do the same thing.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to receive back the same.  But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for God is kind to the ungrateful and evil.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  [Gospel of Luke, 6:27-36]
These teachings are clear enough, but they are insufficient on their own to send Christians who believe them into dangerous lands.  Christians like those in International Assistance Mission believe them because Jesus himself obeyed them, even unto death.  As he was dying on the cross, he said regarding his killers, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."  The Romans, and any Jews who approved, thought they were killing a troublesome man.

The Christians in IAM believe Jesus was the living embodiment of God's love revealed to the world.  Jesus was not merely a man but the son of God.  And he expected and commanded those who believed his message to do what he did:  to love and do good to and for all people, regardless of whether they accepted or rejected it, or whether they appreciated or hated it for their own reasons  Jesus was not merely a moral teacher, but God speaking and demonstrating divine love in him.

The Religious Ironies of These Killings

So here we are today.  The Christian men and women of IAM went to Afghanistan, serving people with medical assistance, Muslims who consider themselves the enemies of Christians, Jews, and others. The Muslim men, and I will presume no women were there, followed them to track, stop, strip naked, then kill one by one some they considered their enemies, the enemies of their faith, and they succeeded.  Those who brought God's divine love through medical service are dead.  They who brought their God's divine judgment through bullets are alive.

Two religions brought these people face to face.  Faith in two different Gods, love for two different prophets, and hope that full and complete obedience to divine commands given in two different religious books, brought the physicians and executioners together.

Based on what we might guess about the Christians there, it is very likely they prayed for divine mercy for their killers, as they saw them slay their brothers and sisters in Christ, one by one, before they themselves died.  Based on what we might guess about the Muslims there, it is very likely they felt satisfaction in obeying Allah, who saw themselves meting out divine justice for their victims, as they lined them up, one by one, to shoot them wherever they fell.

In the event that created this blog, we have these ironies.  These Christians healed strangers, even enemies, because they saw their duties towards them from their God's point of view.  These Muslims killed strangers, their enemies, because they their duties towards them from their God's point of view.

Yet I must point out, to be fair to both religions, at other times and in other places, there have been Christians who killed Muslims and Muslims who have been merciful to Christians.  In neither religion is there complete unanimity or uniformity in the theological views, or behaviors, towards persons not members of those faiths.  This is not ironic, only a fact not to be changed ever in the history of the world.

Theism and Atheism

As a Christian myself, who has spent many decades studying why, first, my religion, and then, later, why other religions have killed strangers based on theological views, I want to plant my feet firmly with the Christians like those in IAM.  Yet the history of my faith too often has been filled with rivers of blood--that of heretics, Jews, Muslims, and even other Christians lined up in national armies all over Europe and the United States, during our Civil War. There have been too few like the good believers murdered the other day. Jesus said, "Blessed are the makers of shalom (spiritual peace with God), for they shall be called, 'children of God.'"

I understand why atheism seems to be growing in God's world.  Anyone who reads certain portions of the Hebrew scriptures, the New Testament, and the Qur'an, surely must not wish to believe in a deity who wills the death of strangers.  John Wesley, I think, once told someone their god was his devil.  The context was different, but I long have felt spiritual resonance with his statement, as I have tried to cope with what has been done in the name of God for millenniums.

Because I believe--sometimes very tenuously, because I know too much Christian history, which weakens my faith--in the New Testament statement that "God is spirit...God is love," for many years I have wondered what the God I believe in thinks about all the little babies, boys and girls, men and women, who have died at the hands of people, of various faiths, who thought they were doing God's will.

There have been many millions whose last mental operations and emotions were filled with the question, "Why?," as they felt their bodies tortured by feeling steel and lead, fire and water, to begin the process, short or long, that would kill them, and take them into the presence of the True God--not the false god of their killers.

I think of the millions of Jews during the Holocaust who asked that question as they heard and smelled the gas come into those false baths, slain by many Nazis who somewhere had their names on some Christian church's roll books.  I think of all the millions of African slaves whose lives would have remained better, except for the collaboration of Christians, Muslims, and even some Jews, who all profited from slavery.  I think of the millions of Native Americans exterminated and displaced by the collaborations of every European immigrant who came to America and had a share in their demise, and most had a faith in a god who, in their minds, approved, permitted, or tolerated their crimes.

I close this blog by saying how troubled I am by these murders; by what I know led to them; and, by the facts that there are two separate groups in two divided religions--one which grieves, one which rejoices--by these events.

I confess that I need more faith, hope, and love, to continue, as long as I live, in promoting the same kind of loving God served by those in IAM.  Though millions of other Christians all over the world seem ready, if not eager, to do the bidding of their separation national leaders and generals, to kill strangers, not to bring love and healing.

In the face of such brutality and bloodshed, are wars sometimes not necessary?  It used to be that World War II, and the Nazi ovens and death-camps, were the classic apologies for war and its necessity.  However, now more millions know the details of all the menus and operations of an I-Phone than recognize precisely who Adolf Hitler was.  Yet, without any major exception, wars have been started mainly due to mass suffering and injustice (when people support them), or due to calculating greed.  Today's wars in the Middle East are not "necessary" in the sense "justice requires them."

Whatever the Taliban would have become, had there been no Westerners in their lands, one thing we know.  Jesus Christ himself is not to be blamed for the history of Western exploitation around the world.  The main "Christianity" the Taliban knows is that of the same American "Christians" who reveled and celebrated the accuracy of the "smart-bombs" during the seige of Baghdad, the celebrated Shock-And-Awe of American military destruction.  Few so-called "Christian" Americans cared to think about the horror and terror being inflicted on thousands of innocent Iraqi children, women, men, of all ages and conditions.  No, the flash and boom was of greater interest than human beings created in God's image.  So how is the history of American "Christian" behavior towards so many of any connection with the tradition of Jesus?  No, the members of the Taliban probably saw themselves as killing "Westerners who were sent by Washington," not disciples of Jesus.

When I think about the good Christians who were executed only a few hours ago, I still grieve for them.  For their kind of religion was and is good.  And I pray to my God that I will have enough faith, hope, and love to pray not for the destruction of those who killed them, but for the illumination of God to show them--in the best places in the Qur'an--that only God knows the hearts of strangers unknown and, as Jesus said, "By their fruits you will know them."

God, give me the strength not to hate, or desire the vicious cycle of retaliation, but to leave all in the hands of a just God who will render on the Last Day a just judgment, and wipe away every tear from the eyes of the just who suffered and died during their time on the earth.  I live for this work and pray for more time to do loving work, for the just and the unjust, the righteous and the sinner.  I, as the latter, know I need divine help for that work in times like these.  JDW

PS:  Here is the story of the team's burial in Kabul, covered by the NY Times.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Military PTSD: Veterans Jim Gourley and Thomas Ricks Assault Ignorance

A friend of mine, who works directly in a military hospital with combat veterans returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan, sent me this.  I can not help but pass this on to my readers, who can see it and related links at Thomas Ricks's site.  These are combat veterans who understand PTSD, as warriors, as brothers, as patriots who need to be understood.

Do not stare too hard when you go to that link and see Northrup-Grumman's advertisement banner at the top for global security.  And do not ask whether or not any of our many military contractors EVER would lobby Congress for peaceful negotiations on any war, if peace would lead to the cancellation of defense contracts.  JDW