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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Sunday, February 19, 2006


Since I added a light "hawkish" theme to the posted story above then ended with the coo of a dove, perhaps I should explain that I agree... some global conflicts can solve themselves over time or be settled by a song amid the chaos. If taking a deep breath before taking action was all John Lennon [RIP] meant... I'm all for it. But if one side is chirping away about peace while the other side is swooping in attack, the nest will be taken by the bad birds in the end. As I see it, that's why the give-peace-a chants of the late Sixties seem naive in a post 9-11 world. The war against global terrorism is not another "Viet Nam."

The question we face this time around is not whether this war affects us... it is whether we are the good or the bad birds. The cynicism is nothing new. When the Viet Nam Conflict ended, it was the returning soldiers who were treated like grackles; this time, it's America's position, power, and motive that are being lampooned. Most of those breeding this national doubt are simply posturing for their own political purposes, but I dare say if Oprah Winfrey could posthumously interview a 9-11 terrorist-pilot, allowing him to explain why he swooped into our world, a frightening percentage of Americans would say, "Oh... I guess they were the good birds after all." I hope I'm wrong.

I believe we are on the right side in the War on Terrorism, but this conclusion is not based on our 'goodness' as a nation or our 'fitness' to export freedom. Unfortunately, from a moral perspective, it's harder to make a case for democracy's contrast to tyranny if that democracy is linked to moral decay. (e.g. Which is worse: a woman’s choice to be dressed in veils or her willingness to be undressed in vile men's entertainment?)

The cause is indeed complicated by a caricature of Western democracies reveling in unfettered 'freedom' which values the right to have choices more than the responsibility of choosing wisely. Even so, I believe that on our worst day, our system of government—not our moral example—reflects more of our Creator's ideals than tyrannical systems of fear.

The song "Freedom's Never Free" reminds us of those ideals and that our liberty was paid for with life. But there is another meaning to the paradox of that song title: In order to truly enjoy the best elements of Freedom, Freedom itself must be restricted (else why the need for STOP signs?), and thus "an authoritative moral code" ultimately prevails even in the face of those who are free to dismantle it. That is the cause of the constant tension between freedom and self-governance. Finding the tolerable balance is the story of law; understanding democracy's dependence on Truth is the story of God's law; and the denial of Truth is how the story ends.

When the glass on a nation's moral compass is fogged, its direction will likewise be clouded, but the day it denies that True North exists... it is hopelessly lost to the wind.


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