Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Approaching Spiritual Death
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
I Corinthians 1:25
Over at Salon, Glenn Greenwald anticipates tonight's State of the Union Address by addressing the leaked news that President Obama will announce a freeze on all budget spending except, of course, the military, which he increased to $708 billion next year. The pie graph (above) reveals a bloated budget for defense when compared to jobs, housing, health care and education. As Martin Luther King said 40 years ago:
A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
Obama was characterized as the peace candidate during the Democratic primary (against Hillary Clinton who voted for the Iraq War before Obama was in the Senate) and during the general election (against the mavericks McCain-Palin). However, since he got to the White House, he has doubled the number of troops in Afghanistan and recent reports on Iraq indicate that troops will be there for another 10-15 years. In addition, our War on Terror has spread to Yemen, Somalia and increased drone bombing in Pakistan.
Greenwald's main point is that the defense budget is untouchable. As Obama gets pressure from the right to decrease deficit spending, conventional wisdom makes it unthinkable to cut military spending, which is 29 times as large as the combined spending of the six 'rogue' states (Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria). Tonight Obama will highlight his beefed up war cred because that will be the one thing that inspires Congressional Republicans to get off their asses and clap for him.
Greenwald added that headlines like this over at MSNBC just whip Americans into a fearful frenzy that legitimates increased military spending while 25 million Americans yearn for work and 20% of Americans reported not being able to purchase enough food at least once last year. In addition, our college tuition and prison population rates continue to increase and record numbers of home owners are foreclosing on their homes.
75 years ago, with the country plunged into a Great Depression, President Roosevelt creatively put young men to work, digging and building our national park system, contracting them to send 80% of their paychecks back home to pay for mortgages and groceries. What an adventure, living in tents, under the stars, working for to preserve God's Creation! Today, many young men living in poverty have one choice when they graduate from high school: the military. The government recruits them aggressively and ships them overseas to fight the bad guys with the promise of a paycheck, health care, housing and an education fund.
American Christians today should consider how Jesus' 1st century platform, inaugurating Isaiah's vision of 'the kingdom of God,' might flesh out in the 21st century Empire. The strange Americans who have the moral courage to follow the wisdom of the crucified and risen One boldly beat swords into plowshares and beg and plead that our political leaders stop learning war and using it for bipartisan legitimacy and manipulating a fearful electorate.