Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy (Burn a) Flag Day

Today is Flag Day, in case you weren't aware. Usually, as is tradition, a motion is made in Congress around this time each year (particularly in election years), some conservative politician brings up a bill to ban flag burning. It never passes (thank God!) and sometimes you wonder if it ever will. I remember hearing the debate in 2000 and Senator Russ Feingold (always one of my favourites) made a speech stating the absurdities of having such a law. He used as an example a restaurant menu that had an American flag on it (though I've never seen a restaurant menu that had one on there) and accidentally catching fire by a table candle. Would that person be arrested? Or how about Boy Scouts, who burn flags when they get ratty and worn. That is the only proper way to retire a flag. Are we going to arrest them?

I suspect that the reason why there hasn't been talk of such a bill (if one is even in motion again) is because there are more serious matters at stake in our country. If impeachment doesn't merit enough time for our members of Congress to investigate and vote, then you know flag burning is way down on the list of priorities, which is a good thing. Considering all that's going on in our world.
It seems like we are in the age of environmental catastrophe. Smug fundamentalists types see this as "proof" that the Book of Revelations in the Bible is true. They eat this stuff up when Pat Robertson gives it to them. There are groups that have an Apocalypse clock and who knows where they put the time (seven minutes before midnight?) as we are living it now.

For some time now, I have been wanting to comment on the strange timing of the two disasters that befell both Burma and China. First a typhoon hit Burma and the regime was so paranoid that they preferred to allow tens of thousands of their citizens to die rather than allow foreigners in to help with humanitarian aid. A week or so later, an earthquake hit China, which resulted in disaster when people realized that China's building boom does not utilize earthquake-proof technology and design. What struck me about the two disasters is that BOTH countries cracked down hard on the Buddhists in the past year. It almost appears like karmic retribution, though it's hard to say that considering that it's the poorest who suffer in disaster the most. But perhaps like Hurricane Katrina, these disasterous natural occurrences are meant to wake people up to the incompetence of their government. Maybe these events are spiritually designed to be a wake up call. People have gotten complacent in prosperity (or hopeless in abject poverty as is the case in Burma). Now, there is an outrage brewing as people realize that their government has failed in the most important task required for its very existence: protection of the people.

A note about Katrina...Bush's approval ratings have never recovered from the moment that storm pulverized New Orleans. He sank below the 40% rating and now seems to hover around 30%. I have my theory on why this is the case. I believe that Katrina completely unmasked him for the fraud that he is. His response was identical to the frozen in fear response he gave on 9/11 when Andrew Card whispered in his ear that America was under attack. After sitting there for 7 minutes while the teacher continued to read "My Pet Goat" to the elementary school kids, he got on Air Force One and headed to Offutt AFB, Nebraska with a stop here or there. What does that tell you? He didn't appear in New York until three days later or so. Four years later, when Katrina made landfall, he was playing a guitar for John McCain at a birthday bash. He didn't go to New Orleans until three days later or so, and even then it was a fly-over on Air Force One to survey the damage. In fact, he was so blissfully ignorant of the disaster that a staff member had to put together a DVD and force him to watch it. Now, it's absolutely incredible that the president of the United States of America PREFERRED to remain ignorant of one of the largest natural disasters ever to befall our country and a lowly staff assistant had to put together a DVD and FORCE him to watch it! What, he doesn't get FOX News Channel on Air Force One? Or maybe they were too busy talking about the Natalee Holloway disappearance to focus on Katrina.

I consider Katrina to be the stripping away of Bush's false facade. No wonder why he's never recovered in the polls. Only the truly ideologically blind are still with him to the end because for egotistical reasons, they can't face the facts and admit that they had made a mistake supporting him in the first place. They are all too willing to go down with him like the lemmings they are.
The above picture is a scene from downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa which is currently flooded. Also in the past few days, a freak tornado ripped through a Boy Scout camp and took the lives of four Boy Scouts. I was shocked. I had gone to that camp when I was in the Boy Scouts and what I most remember about it was that some kid had started a fire that burned a huge area and our weekend campout turned out to be helping put out the fire.

Speaking of fire, California's fire season has officially started (it seems early this year). Atlanta is still in a drought. These odd weather patterns should alarm anyone. To me, it's a sign that climate change is reality and it is imperative that we fix it. For fundamentalist types, they see it as a sign that Biblical prophecy is true and thus they want to do nothing about it but hope it continues to increase until Jesus returns.

I've never understood that mentality. It's the same mentality as those who believe in burning a village to save it. It's absurdity in the extreme. But then again, my belief system is so much different. I believe that we are called by God to take care of the planet. It's part of our responsibility. Think of it like a parent who entrusts his or her teenager with the house while they go on vacation somewhere. What does the responsible teenager do? Check the mail, water the plants, cut the grass, do the dishes, vacuum the living room, etc. What does the reckless teenager do? Throw a party inviting all his or her friends, who all get happy to wreck havoc on someone else's house and leave when the party's over without offering to clean up. Mom and dad come home and what do they find?

So, why would the people who claim to be followers of God and of Jesus do such a horrible thing to God's planet? What gives them the right to claim that they are more righteous than those who might be agnostic but strong environmentalists?

I'm telling you, it's a crazy world. No wonder why Jesus said that the first will be last and the last first. What that tells me is that people who think they are righteous but do unrighteous things will receive a shock on the day of judgment. We are all meant to be caretakers of God's earth. If we want this planet to be around for future generations, we have to help solve the planetary crisis.

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