Today, March 4th, CBS News ran a video of their reporter Seth Doan attending a press conference in China. This is a not a new practice for the Chinese government, to allow Western reporters to attend. But questions must be written out and submitted in advance, and the government will decide which questions will be asked. The last time CBS was allowed to ask a question was 10 years ago, they said. Seth Doan's submitted question, which the government selected to be asked, had to do with tensions between China and Japan over certain islands. Doan's question asked if China's neighbors had reason to be concerned over China's recent military build-up.
The Chinese Congressional spokesperson replied, "We think it takes power to maintain and preserve peace."
As I listened, I thought, "Mr. President, I hope you are both listening and that you understand." Because if the Chinese are right, and common sense would indicate they are, then when the world is on fire with threats of war and military confrontations, slashing America's troop strength should be the last thing done to "maintain and preserve peace."
Now, understand that when you see the Chinese government taking action, this is something they have thought about and considered for often five to ten years. That action is taken, publicly, only because after long strategic consideration the events over that period of time have convinced them this is the correct strategy, the right decision, and now is the time.
Perhaps the United States government could benefit by backing off quick-draw decisions and think about things for a while. Sometimes doing nothing at all proves to be the best action in the long run.
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Thank God It Still Happens
Recently I had a conversation online with a fellow who seemed to be of the opinion that America's only interest in helping others around the world was for the purpose of empire-building. Of course, it's a matter of history that unlike nations of old, whenever Americans participated in armed hostilities they have never claimed a portion of that land for America. But I didn't raise that point because the discussion was really about America having ulterior motives in reaching out to help others, internally or externally.
That got me to thinking, and I suppose you could put ulterior motives to nearly everything anyone does, as a farmer, a plumber, businessman or politician. But the Christian scriptures point out that it's by their works that we should know others, not by looking over their shoulder every minute to demand justification for each moment of work.
When one of the posters in that discussion ended a very thoughtful post with this sentence: "We witness in large and small ways and in the end the world will be transformed," that really sent my thoughts into hyper drive. He was speaking my language!
My own response immediately was "Amen, amen and amen. And to the end that belief and faith, like politics, is local, often the only way it will happen." Then I began to think, if asked, what had I seen and heard that would speak to that opinion?
That thought put me in mind of some people I want to bear witness to in this arena. James has pointed out that if you "love" the naked and hungry and say nice things to them without feeding or clothing them, that isn't Christ's kind of love. For 17 years I worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, so that I was often in the midst of disasters, the results of flooding, tornadoes, all sorts. Other than the presence of Red Cross and FEMA, sometimes helpful sometimes not, the one presence we could count on were the trucks and buses of the Southern Baptist and the Church of Christ. While the Red Cross and FEMA were holding press conferences promising help that sometimes never quite measured up, these other good people rolled in unbound by regulations insofar as they were allowed access, distributing hot meals, water, blankets and shoulders to cry on. There was no proselytizing just human hands to help however they could. It took money and chunks of time out of volunteers' lives to do that, but thank God it still goes on.
Now, the Corps of Engineer people with whom I worked are "just folks", but because of their vocation, they are nearly all people of educational degrees, intelligent, creative, compassionate. But we were hidebound by regulations and FEMA interference. So we were always pleased in the days after, when the cameras and press conference leaders had all gone home, to see individual churches from across the nation arriving with work crews, the elderly, teenagers, middle aged, with hammers and nails and lumber. While the victims made do and waited on promises, the followers of Jesus Christ cleaned up unbelievable messes, in homes and in lives, and just helped wherever they could. Thank God it still happens. Nobody said are you a fundamentalist, a millennialist, old school, new school. They just worked together and prayed together.
During my life of growing up through the Free Methodist Church, the Baptist -- Southern and otherwise -- the United Methodists and the Disciples of Christ, those are the Christian works, in faith, that I know. That is what led Christians through our short history as a nation to build hospitals and schools and colleges, and just take care of people, whatever tag they're wearing. Thank God it still happens.
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