Wednesday, January 07, 2009

On Death and Dying

When we come in to this world, truly it is on only one condition, that condition is we must leave. All come in. All go out.

Through this world we all pass. Why? This world is a testing ground that each soul must pass through. When all the souls have passed through the earth, it will cease to be. We cannot just go to heaven now, we and all the rest must take the test. God does not test us. He does not put troubles on our back. The troubles we are tested with are the doing of man, random events and the devil. While He does not test us, He does watch how we do. As parents, our most important job is to insure our children get into heaven. Our second most important job is to be there to greet them. A measure of how you have done here is how your children do here. If you do your best and they do their best, all is well. No matter how much or how little you are tested, so long as you do your best (not merely claim to be trying) that is good enough with God’s help.

As imperfect beings with free will, we will never be perfect and will always make bad choices. God has a plan for us – JESUS. Jesus by one single sacrifice one time atoned for all mankind for all time. Recall Jesus’ words in the Gospel according to Saint John, beginning at the First Verse of the Fourteenth Chapter: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” So, if you accept the saving grace Jesus provides, you are heavenbound. He has a place for each of us.

What about those who are not Christians? In Mere Christianity on page 65, CS Lewis writes, “… the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him. But in the meantime, if you are worried about the people outside, the most unreasonable thing you can do is remain outside yourself."

The real point of this is that we do not know what arrangements, if any, God has made for other people. We know what arrangements He made for us when He sent His Son to give His life that we might live. Why take chances.

What is ahead of us in heaven? That is not so clear. What we know for sure is that it is good. Jesus told us that this world is like heaven “viewed darkly, as through a glass.” CS Lewis refers to this world as The Shadowlands. Life there is like here, except real.

Too many people have been visited by both angels and their family members who have gone before to doubt we will join those who have gone before us in happiness. All things required for our happiness will be there. To questions like, “Will I be able to fly?” One must answer, ‘Either you will be able to fly if that is what you want or you will be so happy with what is there, you won’t remember you wanted to fly.” Not a perfect answer, but an honest one.

When we think of death, it seems so final. No one comes back from death. Not true, Jesus did and both Moses and Elias visited Jesus in the presence of the disciples. On the other hand, for the rest of us, it is a one way trip. Think of death as in years gone past, Australia. When one left England for their new life in Australia, they were never to come back. Because of the time involved in the sailing transit, they were for the most part never heard of again. Did they still live? But, of course. Was their life better than in England? But, of course. At the same time, it was a one way trip. In this sense, we all go to Australia; Christians, at least. Concentrate on reuniting with your family in Australia. Make sure you don’t miss the boat.

Concentrate not on the temporary separation, but rather unity in heaven for eternity.

Friday, January 02, 2009

A French OMLT infantryman describes interaction with the 506th Infantry (Airmobile) in Afghanistan

The US often hears echoes of worldwide hostility against the application of its foreign policy, but seldom are they reached by the voices of those who experience first hand how close we are to the USA. In spite of contextual political differences and conflicting interests that generate friction, we do share the same fundamental values - and when push comes to shove that is what really counts.

Through the eyes of that French OMLT (Operational Mentoring Liaison Teams) infantryman, you can see how strong the bond is on the ground. In contrast with the Americans, the French soldiers don’t seem to write much online - or maybe the proportion is the same but we just have less people deployed. Whatever the reason, this is a rare and moving testimony which is why I decided to translate it into English, so that American people can catch a glimpse of the way European soldiers see them. Not much high philosophy here, just the first-hand impressions of a soldier in contact - but that only makes it more authentic.

Here is a translation of the original article in French:

We have shared our daily life with two US units - the first and fourth companies of the 506th Infantry (Airmobile). To the common man, it is a unit just like any other. But we live with them and got to know them, and we henceforth know that we have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US Army - one that the movies brought to the public as a series showing “ordinary soldiers thrust into extraordinary events”.

Who are they, those soldiers from abroad, how is their daily life, and what support do they bring to the men of our OMLT every day? Few of them belong to the Easy Company, the one the TV series focuses on. This one nowadays is named Echo Company, and it has become the support company.

They have a terribly strong American accent - from our point of view the language they speak is not even English. How many times did I have to write down what I wanted to say rather than waste precious minutes trying various pronunciations of a seemingly common word? Whatever state they are from, no two accents are alike, and they even admit that in some crisis situations they have difficulties understanding each other.

Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us - and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.

Here we discover America as it is often depicted: their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by promiscuity, lack of privacy, and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley. Honor, motherland - everything here reminds of that: the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star-spangled banner. Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location: books, chewing gums, razor blades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people back him in his difficult mission. And that is a first shock to our preconceptions: the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat te am are the focus of all his attention.

And they are impressive warriors! We have not come across bad ones, as strange at it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how. Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seem to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark - only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered - everything happens in pitch dark even fil ling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.

And combat? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all - always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks: they switch from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the enemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting: they just charge! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later - which cuts any pussy-footing short.

We seldom hear any harsh word, and from 5 AM onwards the camp chores are performed in beautiful order and always with excellent spirit. A passing American helicopter stops near a stranded vehicle just to check that everything is all right; an American combat team will rush to support ours before even knowing how dangerous the mission is - from what we have been given to witness, the American soldier is a beautiful and worthy heir to those who liberated France and Europe.

To those who bestow us with the honor of sharing their combat outposts and who everyday give proof of their military excellence, to those who pay the daily tribute of America’s army’s deployment on Afghan soil, to those we owed this article, ourselves hoping that we will always remain worthy of them and to always continue hearing them say that we are all the same band of brothers.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Beast devouring our Livelihood and Liberty

How the government tells us when they are lying and when they don’t.

The dilemma, the government needs to fund highway maintenance without cutting essential programs such as welfare and bureaucracy.

The Headline: National commission wants to hike fuel taxes, impose driving fees to pay for highways

The Story: The government wants to move to a new system that taxes motorists according to how much they use roads.

The real Problem: A gas tax hike was one of the reasons Democrats lost control of the House and Senate in the 1994 elections.

So, what? They want a mileage-based revenue system. This means equipping every car and truck with a device that uses global positioning satellites and transponders to record how many miles the vehicle has been driven, the type of roads and time of day. Creation and installation of such a system would take about 10 years. This clearly means a system that knows where you are, when you are and all the Orwellian consequence. So, what the government needs to do is assure the sheeple such a system will be designed to prevent vehicles from being "tracked in some big brotherish way."

Analysis – The American Sheeple are so stupid they will wholeheartedly agree. After all, these are the same people who find high school graduate 30 year patrolman police officers making about $100,000,00 a year, retiring at age 55 at $125,000.00 per year, plus medical, to be underpaid.