Weakness and Strength
Weakness is provocative, strength deters.
Donald Rumsfeld's speechwriter Ken Alderman
Last night I watched Why We Fight, and tonight I'll try to make it through The War Tapes about three soldiers filming their war. I wonder if it is as raw as three college students filming Invisible Children in Northern Uganda.
I think prophecy is the fullness of a process that begins with discernment, knowledge and wisdom. There is no guess work in prophecy. But there is timing. Words need time to form. Many times, the most prophetic of words come from people in the fringes of power and authority. Not because of position, but because they "know" what is going on. Like Daniel. And they also know "who" is doing what. Like Esther. And wisdom figures out which words will make the most impact on those who need to know who is doing what. Like John in Revelation.
Revolutions are all about speaking the right words, exposing the right things, at the right time, before the right people - the results are inevitable. The words give the happenings a context to the hearers. Context provides leverage. People begin to move.
Jesus spoke kingdom to a nation under Roman law and occupation. John revealed his Revelation to seven tiny churches scattered throughout Asia Minor. Augustine, from the edge of the empire, took 14 years to write City of God, which was completed as Rome fell.
The most prophetic movement happens in the outer perimeters. Coming from the inside, it can all sound a bit hollow.
From Dwight D. Eisenhower's final words as President (Jan. 17, 1961),
A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction...From John F. Kennedy's first words as President, (three days later):
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.
The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebearers fought are still at issue around the globe - the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.
We dare not forget today that we are heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans - born of this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage - and unwilling to witness of permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
This much we pledge - and more.
To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends.
I was in Atlanta, Georgia during as 9/11 unfolded live on CNN. As a passive Canadian who has never fired a live round of ammunition in his life, I finally understood how Americans can sing so emotionally a national anthem about "bombs bursting in air." It was a day like none other. All at once, bewildered Americans knew they were at war. All at once, I was in solidarity with them. The world didn't get it (even Canada) for a long time, that America was already at war. That day, September 11, a prominent pastor cursed venom, "God bless America! And we had better bomb the hell our of somebody." Those glaring eyes and hot measured words took my breath away. Until that moment, I had no idea what it meant to be an American. And my solidarity started searching for wisdom...
It seems to me that America is a nation that is perpetually defined by the wars it decides to fight. And now, with the internet and some bipartisan media coverage, the underbelly of the shark is finally being exposed.
When Rome fell it was a beastly empire. That one city alone imported more than 1000% more than it ever exported. Senators with ivory tables and chairs. What an incredible imbalance. Generations earlier, Nebuchadnezzar was turned into a beast after it was prophecied he would rule over them. What was it that got George Washington so worked up? I haven't read his "prophecy" so I'll have to look into it some more.
It's obvious, isn't it?
The place where your treasure is,
is the place you will most want to be,
and end up being.