Monthly Archives: October 2010

Forgiveness is way overrated

I’m really in to brotherly love, peaceful coexistence and all that stuff. I got little room for hate and vengeance – antipathy is about as far as I go. Someone slights me, I forgive or forget and move on. Apply the golden rule – forgive as I want to be forgiven.

It’s just that I’m not looking for forgiveness for murder, kidnapping, maiming, torture, assault (except verbal), robbery, abuse, incest, poisoning, grand theft, bribery, the general ruining of lives or conspiring to commit any of the above. Not saying that I couldn’t find a way to forgive some variations of these crimes, just that they don’t come freely. Likely they require some combination of stopping the behavior, confession, remorse, making amends – all of which just might lead to reconciliation. It is true in our relationships, courts and religion.

I know, I know, I know, you are thinking, “what about politicians?” Same list. If, for instance, a political party in charge of our government were to lie about reasons to take us to war, require thousands of our nation’s finest to sacrifice their lives and tens of thousands, perhaps, many more injured for life and wreaking untold heartache and hardship on their families; add to it the organized murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, the maiming of a million or so more and the displacement of even millions more, calling it “collateral damage,” while in their march of madness toward making the Middle East safe for oil companies; emptying our treasury for their rich friends, dismantling the regulations that protected our economic system from failing that caused the unemployment, foreclosures, evictions, repossessions, lost pensions, bankruptcy and ruined lives of a hundred or so million of my fellow citizens, while bailing out those greedy bastards who caused this bringing their status quo back to unimaginable wealth; add to it the spoiling our lands, water, air and bringing the apocalypse of global climate change from fear to a near-term reality; add to it kidnapping and torture… well, I could go on. I don’t care how often they have admitted their sins and asked for forgiveness; I’m not ready to forgive them. Wait a minute, the Republicans, not a one, have admitted or asked for forgiveness, They’ve just asked for my vote. They aren’t going to get that. As God might would say, “Damn them.”

But wait, the new testament Bible teaches us that every sin is forgivable, except if a person blasphemes the Holy Spirit – that’s about God’s forgiveness, not mine and the Christian God has some pretty weird standards. If heaven is filled with murderers, rapists, abusers, liars, thieves, and people in office during the Bush administration, I’d prefer to be elsewhere.

I know, I know, I know, you are saying, “what about corporations, they are people, too, aren’t they?” Same list and likely to be continued.

More reading: Wikileaks.org

Site problems

If you have been to the Dew the last couple of days, you’ve probably noticed that we have had some technical issues – pages loading slowly, problems with sign in and comments and, at times, no site at all. It seems we have out grown our $7 a month server. Over the next week, we will be migrating the site to new, larger, more reliable, and, hopefully, much faster servers. Servers that come with technical support who actually answer the phone and speak Southern. We have also set up a CDN (Content Delivery Network) which mirrors the Dew on servers all over the world to feed the site scripts and images from a source closer – and faster – to where a visitor is. Finally, we are converting our cache system to a more sophisticated approach to take advantage of all this new technology. All to say, hang in there with us. It will get better soon.

In the meantime, if you have specific problems, let me know. Email: [email protected]

Losing Faith

Most of us have grown accustomed to the Bush era security lapses. A trillion or so squandered on a faux war on terror. Hundreds of billions more flushed down the toilet of Homeland Security. Then a story breaks by ProPublica, Washington Post and the New York Times – our government knew of the Mumbai plot two years in advance and did nothing. Despite the the all tough-on-terror spin, trashing of the Bill of Rights and the Geneva Convention, and enriching their defense contractor cronies, the Republicans again proved that they were inept at security as they were at waging war, managing the economy, mitigating disasters, educating our young, caring for wounded veterans,  or telling the truth. But that isn’t the part of the story that has me losing faith.

I have this naïve belief that what makes our society civilized is voluntarily compliance with our common values. My list would include honesty, respect, diligence and responsibility. Each of us would likely have a different list, which is why we have laws. In order to also have freedom, our laws are largely faith-based – each us must act with the faith that most of us will obey the laws and believe that those who do not will be brought to justice.

My faith in this glue of voluntary compliance and goodness, which enables civility, has been shaken in recent years. One after another, our elected officials, corporate owners, and religious leaders have betrayed it and have not been held accountable. I’m not referring to OJ and Mel Gibson, or Bonds, or McGuire. I’m referring to those who lie, cheat, bribe, con, steal, abuse, maim, ruin, torture and murder – presidents, popes and evangelists among them. The co-dependent cynic in me can deal with these grand failures – marking them up and filing them away as more examples of the Icarus syndrome and the subject of Lord Acton’s famous quote.

Then the story comes along of American-born, Daood Sayed Gilani – an extraordinary story of an ordinary man who betrays our civil faith time after time so exquisitely that it shakes me that he was not stopped long before 166 died and hundreds more were injured. It is Gilani’s back story that has me losing faith.

I naïvely believed that if I were to smuggle heroin into the US from Pakistan and get caught, I would go to prison for a long time and likely never have a job or family again. Gilani did 15 months in a low-security prison before being given a job with the DEA.

I naïvely believed, that if I were to travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan and attend terrorist training camps during the Bush years , I’d be abducted by the CIA, tortured and still be living in Guantánamo. Three times Gilani attended Lashkar-e-Taiba training camps in Pakistan and, as far as we know, he never even made the watch list.

I naïvely believed that if I were to be married to two women at the same time, I would be emasculated or at least go to jail. Gilani was married to three women at the same time.

I naïvely believed that if I were a convicted heroin smuggler, confirmed serial bigamist, and my American ex-wife filed domestic abuse charges against me and went on to tell the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force that I was an active member of Lashkar-e-Taiba, had terrorist training in Pakistan and had purchased military equipment, that I probably wouldn’t get custody of my children. Gilani did.

I naïvely believed that if a foreign spy agency gave me money, say, $25,000, and it was reported to our embassy by my wife, that I’d get in a boat load of life-as-I-knew-it-ending trouble. Another of Gilani’s wives went at least twice to the US Embassy in Islamabad and met with regional security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers telling them that he was involved, planning and plotting terrorism and had been given $25,000 by the Pakistani spy agency. Nothing.

I naïvely believed that if I were on the payroll of a foreign government spy agency, had dual Pakistani-US citizenship, and named “Daood Sayed Gilani” that changing my name in 2006 to “David Coleman Headly” wouldn’t fool anyone and would more likely raise more attention. When Gilani —  now Headly did it, he was able to get a quick visa to India with no mention of his nationality.

How could it happen? Or am I just a chump for all those times I didn’t litter or jaywalk? All those times when I could have robbed a bank or launched a Madoff or Enron-like scheme rather than working and didn’t? All those opportunities for mayhem I let pass? I realize that we live in a society where moral values are graded on a curve, but I don’t know where to put this story. I need to Google or Bing “relativism.” Perhaps, Fox News or Bishop Eddie Long can offer me perspective.