Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Walking the Knife Edge of History

I’ve been wondering recently if we are standing on the knife edge of history with a fall to our doom, whether to the right or the left, if we don’t choose our steps carefully. I look at the war in Iraq and I wonder how it would have gone if the country had stayed united and determined as at the beginning. We all know that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” It doesn’t matter how powerful a nation, or any group of people are; if they become focused on destroying each other, a small, dedicated and ruthless enemy, motivated by ideology and no fear of death, can overcome. We are the world’s greatest military superpower, but we are nearly as battered internally by the constant negativity as we are externally by the insurgents in Iraq.

But what if this is part of a bigger picture. I know, generations have come and gone and Messiah hasn’t returned yet. . .but, He did come, as predicted, the first time 2000 years ago and He said He will come again. . .so. What if the scenario is like this.

What if the noble experiment of the US is held in the balance by what we do now about this war here in this time. What if God did bring George Bush to the presidency for this time. Everyone was certainly happy to see him in charge of things on 9/12 – even Al Gore, the stories go, was glad he wasn’t president while he watched the towers fall. But what if the US is hanging in the balance of judgment. We seem to think that the constant negativity is neutral and has no effect. Unintended consequences can change the course of history.

What if our choice here is to be united and stand strong, or to be divided and fall dramatically, like a falling star, from the world’s scene. What if our choice is to put our differences behind and get on with the task of finishing this war with a united front or to hate our own leadership so much that we “cut off our nose to spite our face,” as my mother used to admonish me to not do, and we destroy ourselves because of hate for one man.

What happens if we fail? It would seem that the world would fall into terror on every side. The new testament notes that near the end a time will come when “men’s hearts will fail them for fear.” A world in which fundamentalist, extremist Islam has the upper hand would definitely be a world of fear. We cannot fail through lack of strength of computer and steel, but we can fail and fall mightily if we lack resolve and strength of mind. The knife blade is getting narrower. Lord God Almighty, please have mercy and spare us; help us make wise choices.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Getting Back In The Swing of Things

After a full week of frantically trying to get ready for vacation, followed by a wonderful week in Tokyo and environs, and then another week trying to catch up with the rest of my responsibilities, I haven’t had a chance to write here at all. I haven’t forgotten, however, and hope to get back to my musings shortly.

When I traveled to Japan, the first two days I missed my dog the most. Well, not really missed; I just felt the most guilty about leaving him behind. After all, when I told him I’d only be gone a week and would come back, why would I think he would understand? So, guilt over “abandoning” the dog. But after a couple of days, I really did miss my whole family and wished that they could have traveled with me. Missing the dog receded well into the background (whew, nice to have priorities in order). I kept thinking about how much the rest of the family would have enjoyed the various activities and I wished they were there. I had a great time, enjoyed my friends, saw my first Japanese lighthouse! And saw 17 new birds! The least exciting was the Carrion Crow, the most exciting (but not most rare) the perky little Japanese Pigmy Woodpecker. We’ll have to go back as a small herd if the friends think they could put up with us all for a few days!

It was such a treat to travel with a family that is completely bilingual. I could just relax and let them lead the way. Their kids could easily move back and forth between English and Japanese as could the parents. I was stuck in one language. But because of them, I could concentrate on enjoying the things I was seeing and didn't have to overtax the declining cognitive abilities by worrying over getting back home. Riding the trains was great, but I’m not sure I ever really knew where I was going!

The week included bird watching, walks through parks, hours chatting and catching up on friends, family and events, a day trip to the ocean (lighthouse), a day trip complete with a traditional Japanese barbeque by a river in the mountains, Edo-city museum, national museum, shopping and a small, but quality highlight, visiting a bird-nest exhibit at a local museum.

What a great week! Before the trip it just seemed like forever before the day would come, now we’re over a week past and it is already receding into the past. How quickly time flies when you’re having fun!