Meditation: We Just Didn't Know
To whom much as been given much shall be required. Luke 12:48
The political ads flicker endlessly on our television screens. Most appeal to our sense of justice and decency. Powerful leaders often come to power by professing their faith in God and their commitment to high moral standards. One powerful leader explained his understanding of his duties in the following quotes.
As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people....
It matters not whether these weapons of ours are humane: if they gain us our freedom, they are justified before our conscience and before our God.
Perhaps many Americans would vote for such a politician. After all, he says he is a Christian and wants to protect our freedoms. This religious politician was Adolf Hitler and these are excerpts are from speeches in Munich (April 12, 1922 and Aug 1,1923 respectively).
As a child I asked my sixth grade teacher how people could have let Hitler come to power. The teacher responded “We just didn’t know.” I researched that question and realize the parliament passed “The Enabling Act” and Hitler came to power through legal means. The authorization of emergency powers suspended civil liberties and habeas corpus rights. The Decree enabled Hitler to have the Communist Party's offices raided and its representatives arrested, effectively neutering them as a political force.
This week President Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which also does away with civil liberties, habeas corpus and legalizes torture in the United states. The fear of terrorist acts have allowed the president to change our laws. Will our children and grandchildren ever question how we could have allowed the Bill of Rights to be destroyed and the Constitution ignored? Increasingly it is easier to understand how people allow leaders to gain dictatorial power.
There were 200 people who protested in front of the White House on the 17th when George Bush signed the bill into law. Pax Christi held the Vigil of Mourning. The protest went unreported and the law remains unquestioned by many Americans. Perhaps many will someday say “we just didn’t know.”
It is true that for Christians this world is not our home we are just passing though but as Jesus explained we are to be faithful and wise stewards for we have been given much and therefore much is required. We can have an impact in upholding laws which prevent others from being falsely accused, tortured and imprisoned.
Prayer: Help us be faithful servants who are holding vigil and waiting for your return. May you find us being vigilant in doing good and speaking truth. We ask for your wisdom and courage to be faithful.
Action: Research state and local 2006 candidates to find out where they stand on support of human rights, peace and social justice.
Listen to Keith Olbermann’s comments on the history of abuse of power in past administration and the dangers of the Military Commissions Act. . http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15321167/