"The prophets were the first men in history to regard a nation's reliance upon force as evil," wrote scholar Abraham Joshua Heschel. It was to those biblical prophets that Richard E. Rubenstein, a professor of conflict resolution, turned after Sept. 11, 2001. In "Thus Saith the Lord," Rubenstein states, "I could see the terrorist assault provoking a violent American response, and that response provoking further retaliation, in a potentially endless cycle of blows and counterblows. Perhaps the prophets would have something to teach us about how to escape this trap -- and, more generally, about how to live in a world so deeply and violently divided."
Using modern research to put the ancient words into context, Rubenstein tells the story of courageous men who spoke up against entrenched power two and a half millennia ago. The so-called classical prophets, struggling to make sense of terrifying events as kingdoms rose and fell, declared indelible visions of justice and compassion.
This ought to bring out the Israel-right-or-wrong trolls. Merry Christmas!
Update: No trolls. Instead, the ever-positive and kindly Len Traubman wrote me the nicest note of appreciation. Thank you Len. You helped tip me over from my sour, despairing mood into loving kindness. Words do matter.
Department of Schadenfreude:
Generals tell Bush his advisers are part of the problem. (San Francisco Chronicle)
In truth, I cannot be happy about Bush's discomfiture, because so many innocent people are dying for his foolishness. So schadenfreude is really the wrong word. Or rather, I had a moment of bitter pleasure at Bush's troubles, and then remembered what it really signifies, and could not hold onto the feeling. In war there are no winners.
What does it matter that we peaceniks were right about this Iraq war, four years later? America is stuck, Iraq is broken, and Iraqis and American soldiers die every day. God help them all.
And may the world forgive us Americans for the enormous pain our leaders cause. Can we plead not guilty by reason of 9/11-generated insanity? I am not guilty because I voted against Bush II, twice, and my congresswoman is the only one in the US House to stand up to him and his fascist cabal. But what about the rest of us, the 75 or 80 percent who thought Bush was doing great at the beginning of the Iraq war? Of those people, only 30 percent now approve of Bush himself, and maybe twenty-five percent or less approve of his handling of the war. That means that half of the country, 175 million people, changed their minds in the last four years. Do they feel duped? Do they understand what happened, and how the administration lied?