Christmas and Politics

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As the political season winds down until 2016, and Christmas approaches, it is worthwhile to consider the differences between the two and their places in our lives.

Politics is full of sound and fury, self promotion and a shading of the truth, even among the most conscientious public servant.

There is a soullessness to politics, no matter the candidate, party or election. Politics is full of sound and fury, self promotion and a shading of the truth, even among the most conscientious public servant. Yes, politics can be noble, and it does address issues that matter. But it doesn’t fill the aching inside of us all, the desire for something more in this life.

Christmas is different. Not the bustle and the rush, not the shopping and cooking, not all the preparations. Christmas speaks of something better, something too wonderful to even contemplate. If you do believe in God, the Christmas story sounds just like the way He would arrange things. It rings of the truth, the truth with a capital T. And the love of God fits with the facts. John 3:15 makes sense in a logical manner, even going beyond one’s faith.

There are realities in this world we must address during our lives, both individually and collectively. And politics tries to do this in an earthly manner. Spiritual necessities, on the other hand, transcend our daily grind and force us to transcend ourselves in a way politics never can.

For the skeptics among us, consider the following: a long list of facts proving the existence of God and a long list doing the opposite sometimes seem to fight each other to a fifty-fifty tie. And that percentage proves the existence of God more than anything else. Isn’t that just the way God would arrange things? So to break the tie, we need to take a leap of faith. And once that leap is taken, the scales fall from our eyes, and we can’t believe how blind we have been. And that’s when we know that we know that we know. And we begin on the road to sanctification.

Politics, no matter how noble, can never take us on a journey like this. It can never fill the deep yearnings of the soul, though God knows it often tries to do so. Its upside-down world rewards self-promotion when humility is the real answer.

Keeping Terrorism in Perspective

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Last night’s Republican Presidential debate was dominated by discussions about  terrorism and national security. Yet while Paris and San Bernardino have captivated U.S. news coverage recently, it may be useful to take a moment to keep these events in perspective.

But we give terrorists too much credit when we react to a handful of deaths as if the sky were falling.

Thousands of people died during 9/11 and two iconic American structures, the buildings of the World Trade Center, came crashing down. But that tragedy occurred more than a decade ago, and the subsequent attacks have been more than minor in comparison.

Your chance of being decimated by a terrorist attack is approximately the same as being hit by lightning, and while the shooting in San Bernardino was a tragedy, when you compare it to the geographical and population of the entire United States, it is just a blip on the map.

That’s not to say that the lives needlessly lost are not worth troubling about. It’s just that if this is the best the terrorists can do, we should not obsess about it.

The United States does remain vulnerable to terrorist attack, and we must thwart these criminals wherever they wish to strike. And there are indeed other more horrible scenarios to contemplate, generally concerning germ or chemical warfare, or even God forbid, a nuclear weapon. But when we overreact to minor strikes, we can lose the focus we need to maintain on these true vulnerabilities.

Cyber warfare remains a major concern, especially concerning our electrical infrastructure, and nuclear power plants could be another source of trouble, especially when located near population centers such as Indian Point and New York City. But we give terrorists too much credit when we react to a handful of deaths as if the sky were falling.

Consider the Boston Marathon bombings. An entire city was paralyzed by an act of violence perpetrated by a small bomb, and one that was not even very effective at that. Yes, let’s fight terrorism, but let’s not give more credit to the terrorists than is there due.

Talking About Terrorism

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The bubble of Fox News watchers, those who get all their news from that illustrious channel, are living in a different world than the rest of us. With their information strictly controlled, they have become fearful and jittery by the coverage, part of the reason why President Obama felt compelled to give a speech from the Oval Office last night.

That doesn’t mean sending 100,000 troops to die in the Middle East, an action that could only be described as a temporary loss of sanity.

Of course, the Republican Presidential candidates panned the speech; they would have done so no matter what he said. But is their talk about terrorism any more realistic?

In a land where more than 10,000 people die by gun violence every year, and murder rates are surging across the United States in 2015, the impact of terrorism is miniscule at best. Of course, the calling card of terrorism, the unexpected nature of it, the impact on young and old alike, does deserve a muscular response.

But the loudest response should be coming from the Muslim community itself. God forbid, if Christianity or Judaism were generating violence, you would see all kinds of Pastors and Rabbis rushing to the pulpit to condemn it. We still don’t see that kind of response from Imams in the United States, or if it is occurring, the media has failed to report it.

Meanwhile, we need to respond in kind to the attacks against us. That doesn’t mean sending 100,000 troops to die in the Middle East, an action that could only be described as a temporary loss of sanity. It may require a temporary no-fly zone over Syria and the establishment of “safe places.”

But we need to push back against “the sky is falling” rhetoric being waged by Republican Presidential nominees. Their comments are aimed at a small minority of the Republican electorate and should not needlessly alarm our citizenry.