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Sunday, August 30, 2009

CHAPTER NINETY. REMEMBERING THE FALLEN





Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on May 31, 2010 9:15 AM PDT



This chapter is dedicated to Abraham Lincoln, who gave his life so that "one nation under God" would remain indivisible in its quest for liberty, justice for all. We the American people ordained a Constitution that was established to form a more perfect union, establish justice, provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare. It did not do so, but it provided the means to establish a government that might. Americans fought a bloody civil war to move themselves a little closer to that ideal. When Lincoln was martyred, the country fell into the hands of war profiteers who took us from the path toward equality and democracy, in part by infecting the American consciousness with the idea that corporations have the rights of humans under the 14th Amendment.




We may not long remember the words that were spoken by our true heroes, but we must not forget the sacrifices of the men and women who died for the freedom of others in wars that would not have been fought had all of us understood and acted upon the simple commandment all religions promote: We are to love our neighbors as we would want to love ourselves. If a just and loving God exists , it must look over all of us and judge us by our souls, not our actions. Such a God would surely look into our hearts and judge us 
only by whether our actions are determined by concern for liberty and justice for all, or whether selfish considerations allow us to blind ourselves to the consequences of our actions.

It is common for self-professed Christians to piously pray for soldiers who gave their lives "for God and country." This hypocrisy traces its roots to the fact that Third Century Christians, perhaps weary of persecution, accepted the authority of Constantine upon his claim that he had become one of them. He was in fact a politician and warrior, one who oversaw the selection from among religious texts those that supported his divine right to rule them, thus wedding Church and State throughout the unholy Roman Empire. He assembled a book that was incomplete and distorted, deliberate obscuring lessons about personal and collective power that Christ taught and for which he was murdered.

Had they rejected the mixing of government and religion, Christians would have discovered long ago the distortions they have been taught that led them to support religious wars between the Catholic church and the Muslim world  in the form of the Crusades. The clash between self-proclaimed Christians and the Muslim world continues because they have still to understand the meaning of the message of the one they claim saved them, not understanding that what he taught was how to save themselves.

The use of religion for political ends led to fundamentalists being blinded to the fact that they were bound by a common belief in a single God, the eternal One that is Allah, Atman and all of us, bound through what Christians call the Holy Spirit. If we allowed this spirit to flow from the source of all that is good within us and through us, touching and healing those with whom we come into contact, the world could see the end of war. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is love. If God exists, I imagine that is the source of love and that the "Holy Spirit" is its manifestation in the world we know. If so, then love would be the source of all matter and energy in this Universe. Perhaps it is true that all we need is the power of love to overcome those who oppress us with war.
The way to end war is to remember that we are all in this together. War will become unthinkable when we cease to believe that it is inevitable. In this War to End All Wars, the survival of human civilization depends on it being the selfish, self -appointed Masters of the Universe who will fall. We must put an end to their game of Monopoly so that the game of Life might begin.




On Memorial Day I try to remember those who have gone before us by actively working to achieve justice. This is the only path to the end of war. As Lincoln implored us to seek counsel from the Angels of our better natures, I remind myself that I fight not because I hate but because I love. Each year I seek to rededicate myself to the work which those who have died in the belief that they were defending freedom have so nobly given their lives.

Now that we are in a state of seemingly endless war, we must all redouble our efforts to help others understand why this may be our last but best chance to end war itself. Our success will determine whether we have a new birth of freedom and whether government of the People, by the People and for the People may come forth upon the Earth at last.

Through our efforts we have slowed the tide of worldwide fascism. 1984 may not have occurred until 2000, but there is much more to do. An essential first step back to the path to democracy is to pass a Constitutional amendment to end the purchasing of politicians by paying for their elections. This is the first and most important action necessary to strip the corporate Puppetmasters of  the United States government of the tools they need to manipulate the machinery of our government. The power of a corporate elite to determine who we can choose from to represent us in Congress and the White House threatens the gains of the American Revolution and  the prospect of democracy itself. Without real democracy, the world will never know peace.

Tears are wasted on the fallen, who are beyond earthly pain. If we must weep, we should do so for their wives, husbands, parents and most of all for their children. It is our duty to assure that all children will grow and thrive in a world free from the threat of war, poverty, disease and injustice. Soldiers throughout history have willingly laid down their lives in causes that they believed to be larger than their selves. In some cases, their cause is just. In most, they are unwitting victims of a power-mad elite that now seeks to enslave the planet. That is why the citizens of Earth must join hands to oppose them.

Endless war is the ultimate result of Mankind's failure to free itself from the slavery of the belief that some were meant to rule over others, which is the ultimate result of allowing wealth and power to accumulate in the hands of the few. It is so obvious that this would lead to a final effort of the few to enslave the rest of the world that it was predicted over 2,000 years ago.

The Apocalypse is not a promise or a threat. It is a warning of the fate that will befall us if we do not lay aside our petty differences and work together to eliminate the scourges threatening human civilization. Global climate change alone threatens to lead to mass starvation, pandemic, and ever more destructive natural disasters. Add to this the threats of pestilence and famine posed by Monsanto and the lack of health care in the wealthiest nation on the planet, which increases the risk of pandemic, and the case can be made that all four horsemen are already upon us.

We have a choice. We can close our eyes, or we can act. If we do act, we can do so in the knowledge that the survival of human civilization is in our hands or we can hold tight to the illusion that somehow, our individual fates are in our own hands. Survivalists are those who have already given up on society, in the belief that Man is essentially evil. They prepare to defend their food and their families from the fate they assume will befall them because they feel powerless to stop it. It is their conviction that life is inherently a battle between weak and strong individuals that we must reject, because the strength of average individuals comes from acting collectively.

Democracy can only survive if we believe and act according to the principle that all of us have the capacity to act for the common good.  If a People are not good enough to rule themselves, they will inevitably become the slaves of others. The measure of goodness must be the degree of willingness to act in the interests of all rather than their own narrowly defined self-interest. 
Even those to whom this concept is most foreign have the capacity to change. If they will  not do so willingly, it is up to us to stop them, for they clearly know not what they do. That will require us to put aside our own prejudice, fear, hatred and desire for revenge against those who have wronged us.

They do not serve who only sit and wait for the Kingdom to come to them. Christians, who constitute a substantial majority in the US, have to understand that Jesus already died for our sins. To expect him to come back and save us from our own sloth, despair and intellectual laziness is surely the most perverse way we could possibly recognize his sacrifice. He will not return on a white horse with a flaming sword to slay the non-believer. He won't have to, because we will destroy ourselves if we simply wait to be saved.

The central message of all great religions is that we are all one People, bound by our relationship to each other as much or more than our relationship to a God we cannot see or hear. Those who forget this and create walls between themselves and others are missing the point that every great prophet repeated in various times and places. Mohammed first resorted to violence only when the rich and greedy powers-that-were in Mecca sought to slay him and destroy the nascent Islamic movement meant to unify Peoples around the world. This was the same goal of Christ’s teachings. Muslims believe that Allah sent a messenger to isolated tribes of the Mideast so that they would join together in a spirit of love and peace instead of poisoning
 each other’s wells. That Christians, Muslims and Jews alike have perverted the message that we are one and must behave accordingly to justify war for wealth and power is the ultimate betrayal of those who devoted their lives to helping us learn how to save ourselves.

Anyone who works to advance the cause of justice is a Soldier For Peace. Those who in doing so believe in the essential goodness of Man and try to treat others in a spirit of love and forbearance will be the ones who lead us to victory.




In the words of Julia Ward Howe:






Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.


Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.


I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.


Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.


I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my condemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on."


Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.


He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.


Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.


In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
while God is marching on.


Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.


He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is wisdom to the mighty, he is succor to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on.






Rick Staggenborg, MD


Coos Bay, Oregon

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