We are the Heirs of that First Revolution

At the dawn of this day, I knew it would be a long one. I had to docent a class that is nowhere near my field (The History and Sociology of the American Woman…). I had to lead a freshman study group (an absolute terror to any graduate assistant). Today was the day that the much debated Student Wellness and Recreation Center finally would come to a vote before the Senate of the Student Government Association. Then, I found out a motorcade was going to be rolling through downtown.

This was no typical motorcade. This was to honor an individual who, though I never met him, would have been offended if you called him sir. “Don’t call me sir; I work for a living,” would have likely been his response. He was the father of three kids, worked for the Bibb County sheriff’s office, and was a staff sergeant in the Army National Guard. He was also killed in action outside Khost, Afghanistan on September 30th by a roadside IED.

The Senate Session, the most important and intense of the year (and quite possibly the most important since I have been involved with GCSU Student Government) paled in comparison to what was happening outside in the street. As the sirens approached in the distance, the business of wellness centers and increased fees didn’t seem quite as important. The senate recessed so its members and observers could join the crowd gathered on the sidewalk to pay their respects as a hero passed by. On any other day, this would have been the most notable event. But this was not any other day.

Later on in the evening, I led a study session for Politics and Society, my school’s freshman American government course which is required of all students. After the session was over, a student came up to me. He was an international student from Iraq. He didn’t know about the motorcade; he’d been studying for the upcoming exam. What he didn’t understand was why students had not participated more in the decision about the wellness center. Out of six thousand students, less than 100 attended the meetings.

He told me how if you had expressed opposition in Iraq, even about something as minor as a student fee, you were risking your life. He told me of family members who had lost their lives. He told me of the betrayal of friends who had join the insurgency. Then, he talked to me about how much he loved being in this country. He spoke of how he couldn’t understand how Americans did not take advantage of the freedoms to which they had become accustomed and apathetic. He understood how valuable and precious the freedoms are that are largely ignored by people who have lived under those freedoms their entire lives.

In spite of the snide comments of some of the scumbags in the crowd, who didn’t understand why we were honoring someone who killed for a living, the mass of people who lined the streets understood a fact so profound that many can no longer comprehend it. SSgt French understood it. A young international student understood it. Freedom is precious. Bringing freedom to the far corners of the world “forgotten by all but the war lords” is worth sacrifice. America, even with all of its problems, is still the greatest nation in the world. “People want a better life, and they want it here.” But, what about freedom everywhere? Why can’t that be our goal?

Yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears 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 the 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 in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or 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.
~ President John Kennedy

Monday Morning Commute

This morning on the way into work, something happened to me that I sincerely hate. I found myself stuck behind a school bus. Those of you who know where I live, and know where I work understand this. There are only two places where my little truck can workup the momentum to pass even a slow moving yellow monster. And this morning, there were oncoming cars in both of those locations. I was stuck for the long haul.

So, as I was driving (crawling) along at about five miles per hour, I began to notice some things. Most of the stops found not only the children waiting, but also a parent there to see the child off for the day. One poor kid was seen off by his father. Not generally a problem, except that dear old dad was clad only in boxer shorts. I felt sorry for the kid until we got to the next house.

The scene was fairly typical of all the other stops the bus had made that morning. The brake lights lit up, then the driver hit the amber wig-wags. Once again, the line of ten cars slowed and came to a stop as amber turned to red and the stop sign came out. But this stop was different. No father stood by the side of the road to see off his children. No mother was waiting to wave bye as the bus disappeared over the hill and into the early morning fog. Instead, it was just a lone teenage girl, struggling not only under the weight of an overloaded book bag, but also with the weight of a diaper bag and her young baby.

I’m assuming Wilkinson County has some sort of child care program for such situations. That’s the only reason I could figure that she would be taking an infant on the bus with her. And honestly, at first I was disgusted. Then I realized that regardless of the circumstances surrounding the conception, at least she hadn’t killed the baby. That would have been the easy way out. She hadn’t dropped out of school and thrown her dependence on the state for her wellbeing. No, she had gotten up at the required time, and had both of them ready for that (annoying) bus when it rolled to a stop at their driveway. Suddenly, I realized that she was trying to be a better parent that what she’d had.

Eventually the bus turned off the highway and took its load to Irwinton and the waiting schools and teachers. The caravan of vehicles who was sitting behind the bus accelerated as one mind and headed on into Milledgeville. As the cars behind me peeled off to hit the shortcut to the bypass, and then more cars left our little motorcade as we rolled through Central State, and then finally we rolled into downtown, my feelings went out for that girl who was faced with a responsibility far beyond her years. Sure, she was given that responsibility because of her own actions but she will have to deal with it for the rest of her life.

A Battle Hymn

Forth to the battle rides our King; He climbs His conquering car;
He fits His arrows to the string, and hurls His bolts afar.
Convictions pierce the stoutest hearts, they smart, they bleed, they die; Slain by Immanuel’s well-aimed darts, in helpless heaps they lie.

Behold, He bares His two-edged sword, and deals almighty blows; His all-revealing, killing Word ’twixt joints and marrow goes. Who can resist Him in the fight? He cuts through coats of mail. Before the terror of His might the hearts of rebels fail.

Anon, arrayed in robes of grace, he rides the trampled plain,
With pity beaming in His face, and mercy in His train.
Mighty to save He now appears, mighty to raise the dead,
Mighty to staunch the bleeding wound, and lift the fallen head.
Victor alike in love and arms, myriads around Him bend;
Each captive owns His matchless charms, each foe becomes His friend. They crown Him on the battle-field, they press to kiss His feet; Their hands, their hearts, their all they yield: His conquest is complete. None love Him more than those He slew; His love their hate has slain; Henceforth their souls are all on fire to spread His gentle reign.

Charles H. Spurgeon

It is hardest to do nothing

It is said that the most the continuation of the status quo is the most post powerful force in politics. In other words, doing nothing is often the easiest route. That may be true in politics, but resisting the urge to act in personal life is a completely different story. More often than not, it is a struggle for my mind to convince my emotions that actions would just create more problems than the problem they were designed to create.

I can deal with being hurt. I’m a big boy (both literally and figuratively). I live life in a cruel world. Life has disappointments. Life in politics has its betrayals. Life in college has its drama. While it bothers me, I get over it. I may want to strangle someone for a while, but it happens. Sometimes though, something comes along I have a slightly harder time dealing with: come after me all you want; leave my friends alone.

My last name means Son of Listening. As strange as it seems, it fits. My friends, and occasionally completely strangers, confide in me. Sometimes, it is confessing something they have done and want to fix. Most of the time, it is a discussion of some way they have been hurt. Most of the time, all I have to do is ask questions for a while and it turns out that they had done something that led to the eventual insult. I end up just keeping the questions going until I realize what’s going on, then they realize what’s going on. Then, while rare, it is the final category.

This is where something happens wasn’t deserved. When this happens, it is a good thing I don’t have access to the nuclear launch codes.

I want to rush to the scene and avenge my friends. Broadsword in hand, I want to plant my standard in front of them and say through clenched teeth while arrayed in the full armor of the combat of a different era, “TRY to hurt them again.”

I do not want to strangle the offender. That is too merciful. You mess with a friend of mine, I want to subject the offender to the horrors of defeat in medieval warfare.

Behold, He bares His two-edged sword, and deals almighty blows; His all-revealing, killing Word ’twixt joints and marrow goes. Who can resist Him in the fight? He cuts through coats of mail. Before the terror of His might the hearts of rebels fail.

~ Charles Spurgeon

It is little wonder then that my favorite name is William. It means resolute defender. My first born son’s name will be William Rhodes, that is, resolute defender of the cross. But, my name is not William. My name has a deeper meaning, a meaning of which I must remind myself constantly. When I am living up to my last name, listening to those around me, I must keep before my eyes the fact that it is not my place to judge, or to exactvengeance.

Instead, I remind myself that my name is not just Simpson, but DANIEL Simpson. Then, I remember that my God will judge all men according to His actions and will then require his perfect justice. I have my calling, that is not it. So while my emotions may run rampant, betraying my body of sleep at night, resisting the urge to act is not in fact doing nothing. It is staying out of the way and allowing God to fulfill the promise of my name. It is not my place; it is His.

And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.

~ Revelation 19:1-3

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

~ Revelation 20:10-15

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely…

He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Revelation 21:1-7, 23-27

Knowledge vs. Ignorance

The reason why I can’t really get into, but a question has been cycling through my mind in recent days. Is it better to know what’s going on, behind the curtain so to speak, or to remain blissfully oblivious? My education teaches me that there is an underlying order to everything, and that order can be known an understood. But, the question remains if that order SHOULD be understood (or known, if you will).

The fusion and fission of an atom is what provides us with light and warmth. But that same process, when known and understood was converted into the most powerful weapon of destruction ever known. Birds have been flying since the dawn of creation. Humans captured that power and now have a delivery system both for themselves, humanitarian aid, and yes, those same atomic and nuclear weapons.

So, the question remains. Would life be better if there was some information we didn’t know. Is the world any better off now that we know how to destroy it? Would information that could destroy a family be better left unsaid?

My entire life, people have told me things. Most of the time, there is something so unmentionable, something they can’t bring themselves to say. This one will tell me one side. Another individual will tell me the other side. All too often, I just wish I had a flash gun that would let me erase memories like something out of Men in Black.

Other times, my gut (no, I’m not Gibbs, not even close) tells me things. My mind just puts weird things together in a quite odd manner. It’s weird; while I don’t “know” something, it just doesn’t surprise me when I find out, often months later.

The problem is when I find out something I’m not supposed to know. Every now and then, one piece falls in place that enables me to put the puzzle together before anyone wants me to know the full picture. I’m not supposed to know what I know, so I can’t talk to any one about it.

This is what bothers me. I can’t do anything with the information. I’ve spent the last five years being pounded with the fact that all information is to be desired and to always work for more and MORE information. But I can’t help but think that there are some things I would just rather not know.

Ok, theory friends of mine. Eat your heart out. Help your empiricist buddy sort through this one. Is knowledge always preferable to ignorance? Or is one of the assumptions of the Western Analytical Tradition false?