Saturday, July 06, 2013

Egypt. Again.

I will always remember the moment.  Watching events unfold in real time thanks to Al Jazeera English streaming live, I sat at my computer and watched the announcement that Pres. Hosni Mubarak had resigned.

The roar from Tahrir Square was deafening.

It has happened again and I have to say that I am less than enthusiastic this go round.

The removal of Mubarak created the conditions for the election of Mohammed Morsi to the Presidency.  While certainly no fan of his increasingly obvious desire to make Egypt conform to a restrictive interpretation of Islamic law and social practice, it is impossible to ignore the reality that he was elected by a majority of the Egyptian voters.  There are democratic solutions to democratic problems.  That the Egyptian military continues to hold the whip-hand in Egyptian politics is all the more reason to mourn this week's coup;  Morsi directly threatened their domestic perquisites at a time when continued economic stagnation kept much of the population restive (to be understated about it).

Americans should not be applauding this, anymore than they should have complained years ago when residents of the Gaza Strip elected Hamas to represent them.  It's their democracy; they can choose their own leaders.  We should be adult enough to deal with the even when we don't particularly like them.

The folks at Lawyers, Guns, And Money sum it up well.
Brooks’s argument that democracy is a mere “process” that should be disregarded when it produces disagreeable substantive results is quite remarkable. Let’s consider the (largely accurate, as far as I can tell) bill of charges against Morsi — hostility to the rights of women, civil liberties violations, rank incompetence, divisiveness, disastrous misuses of the violent power of the state. So Brooks would have thought that a military coup against the second Bush administration was perfectly OK, then? (Particularly since the election of Bush was pretty shaky on the “process” metric as well.) At what point do the bad (by whose standard?) substantive results of democratic elections trump democratic procedures? Brooks lacks a clear answer, but I suspect it has something to do with the percentage of the electorate that consists of white people.
Once you begin accepting the violent removal of democratically elected leaders whose policies are disagreeable, you remove the whole raison d'etre of democratic government.  Of course, as the US has never sat idly by in such instances - Iran in 1953 and Chile in 1973 come to mind - it is hardly surprising that a fluffer for the powerful like David Brooks is insisting the Egyptians, and by extension Muslims in general, don't have the capacity to sustain democratic systems.  Still, it would be nice if someone in the United States of America, in the week we celebrated our independence, took a stand for the democratic process rather than bad real politique arguments about American interests.

I am not sanguine about what happens next in Egypt.  Whoever comes to power in Egypt knows the price of the Presidential office - kissing the military's butt.  And the Muslim Brotherhood has also learned something: That democracy is a farce, especially if the world's most powerful democratic republic refuses to defend the values of democracy.  This is a formula for more violence and instability.  Folks like Brooks should be proud.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Free And Independent States

I was saddened to discover that I have not posted what follows in four years.  Four!  Clearly, I've been slacking.

Happy Independence Day to one and all.  Now cue Mr. Jefferson . . .

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

19 Years

July 1, 1994 dawned much too early.  Especially for a three-hour drive down I-95.  We arrived in the little mill town of Jarratt, VA and were greeted by a huddle of men and women who proceeded to have me back our rented truck to the front door then unloaded our former two-room apartment in to our beautiful new parsonage.  The ladies of the church - with my mother-in-law's help - organized the kitchen while the men put the furniture around.

That was the day I learned about ham biscuits and set-up salad.

It was also the day I learned that "church" was a real thing for these folks.  They made it real for us that day, one never to be forgotten.

Other moving days came and went, including one after a harrowing drive across country.

Through it all, it has been about Lisa's ministry.  Her service to the people of the churches and communities.  Her loving care for everyone who crossed her path.  Her amazing ability to remember a name after just one meeting; she called people by name and I know many never forgot it.

Back in March I contacted as many people as I could after getting in touch with one former church member who is a videographer/video editor.  I asked for photographs and video testimonies and was overwhelmed by the response.  Janice Myers did a fantastic job putting it all together - 19 years of our life; 19 years of Lisa's service to so many people.  I uploaded the video to YouTube and here it is:

Here's to the next 19 years!

Virtual Tin Cup

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