Thursday, April 07, 2005

"Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee"

Psalm 79

A Psalm of Asaph.

1. O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jeru-salem on heaps.

2. The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.

3. Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and there was none to bury them.

4. We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.

5. How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?

6. Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.

7. For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place.

8. O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.

9. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake.

10. Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servants which is shed.

11. Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die;

12. And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, 0 Lord.

13. So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever; we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.

I set about looking for a psalm for this post, wandering about the house seeking out daily lectionaries for guidance. Finally I gave up and pulled out my copy of the Psalms edited by Kathleen Norris, and opened it to this one.

Go figure.

Listening to a report this morning about the belligerence of the American Neo-Cons, I realized that the anti-nuke protestors of the "Cold War" era, were right. A primary anti-nuclear weapons argument was that humankind had never developed a weapon it didn't eventually use; and of course, the use of nuclear weapons would be devastating to the world. We can leave that argument to Helen Caldicott.

It was while listening to the report on the neo-cons, and the Bush Administration, that I realized that analysis of human motivation and weaponry, was right. And we were living in it.

The litany against the neo-cons was not entirely new: the fanatical desire, even when Clinton was President, to "finish the job" and remove Sadam Hussein from power in Iraq; the clear effort to impose American hegemony on the world, a plan promoted by Colin "They Tricked Me!" Powell, when he was Secretary of State. Plans even to rival the power of Russia, China, and Europe (I have a memory of Powell stating clearly that no one in the world be allowed to challenge U.S. military power. If that isn't an assertion of right to hegemony, what is?) were developed privately and touted publicly.

And now we see the results in Iraq and Afghanistan. And if it wasn't for the collapse of "Social Security Reform" and Terri Schiavo and "activist judges" and the crash of Bush's support from even his base; if it wasn't, in other words, for the inconvenience of reality, we might still be hearing about a possible invasion of Iran. All in the name of the "New American Century," or, as they prefer it at PNAC: "[the] fundamental propositions: that American leadership is good both for America and for the world; that such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle; and that too few political leaders today are making the case for global leadership." What good is power, after all, if you won't wield it?

Which should lead us to a consideration of the power of powerlessness. But that, of course, is not the way of the world.

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