Friday, October 14, 2011

Rush Limbaugh And What Is Wrong With America.

ABC News, is reporting that Obama has sent 100 US troops to Uganda to help combat the Lord's Resistance  Army. According to the report, "Two days ago President Obama authorized the deployment to Uganda of approximately 100 combat-equipped U.S. forces to help regional forces remove from the battlefield Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony and senior leaders of the LRA." 

Joseph Kony, defiant.

The report continues; "The president made this announcement in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner Friday afternoon, saying that  'deploying these U.S. Armed Forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter-LRA efforts in central Africa.'"  

Rush Limbaugh, on the golf course, far from Uganda.

Political pundit and talk show entertainer Rush Limbaugh had this to say. "Now, up until today, most Americans have never heard of the Lord's Resistance Army.  And here we are at war with them.  Have you ever heard of Lord's Resistance Army, Dawn?  How about you, Brian?  Snerdley, have you?  You never heard of Lord's Resistance Army?  Well, proves my contention, most Americans have never heard of it, and here we are at war with them.  Lord's Resistance Army are Christians. They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan.  And Obama has sent troops, United States troops to remove them from the battlefield, which means kill them."

Mr. Limbaugh, a coterie of 4 people, having never heard of the LRA does not a consensus make. And if you are right, if that is an accurate statistical representation of the ignorance of Americans to the atrocities committed by the LRA in Uganda then shame on us. Shame on us! The country of Uganda has been terrorized by Kony and his demonic rebels for years. Tens of thousands of men women and especially children have been killed, raped, tortured, maimed or much worse as in the instances, well documented, of the children themselves forced to commit the atrocities on their own families. Turned into killing machines by a coward who hides behind children and lets them fight his wars. The LRA are rapists and they are murderers and they ARE NOT Christians. 


Mr. Limbaugh then goes onto relay the Lord's Resistance Army's objectives as he interprets them sounding almost like a defense of the LRA... "To remove dictatorship and stop the oppression of our people; to fight for the immediate restoration of the competitive multiparty democracy in Uganda; to see an end to gross violation of human rights and dignity of Ugandans; to ensure the restoration of peace and security in Uganda, to ensure unity, sovereignty, and economic prosperity beneficial to all Ugandans, and to bring to an end the repressive policy of deliberate marginalization of groups of people who may not agree with the LRA ideology."  

Mr. Limbaugh meet John Ochola who would rather die than look at himself in the mirror. He bears the scars of Kony's "ensuring of the peace."

Meet some of the of 44 girls abducted and raped and maimed from Sacred Heart Secondary School and St. Mary's Girls School near Gulu. 

Or these two toddlers. Hacked to death by the LRA. Meet these to precious babies Mr. Limbaugh. I could go on posting. For all the American people, the full scope and reach of Kony's evil. The 35,000 child soldiers and slaves. The countless girls repeatedly raped, their young bodies a breeding ground for more soldiers. Not ringing a bell Rush? 

President Obama told John Boehner that sending troops to Uganda: "[is] in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States..." To which Rush asks rhetorically and sarcastically, with mockery as his intent, "Would somebody explain to me what you think our "national security interests" are in Uganda?" 

Rush, do you need a history lesson. Was it in our national interest to equivocate as Hitler committed genocide to the tune of 6 million? Was it in our national interest to let Saddam pillage Kurdish towns? We responded in both cases, albeit belated. Why? Because terror breeds terror. Evil is an ever quicker spreading cancer. When nations wrap themselves in the ignorance ease affords evil advances. Is it in our national interest to stop Joseph Kony and the LRA? 

Finally, one of Rush's staff apparently googles the LRA and Rush responds; "Is that right? The Lord's Resistance Army is being accused of really bad stuff? Child kidnapping, torture, murder, that kind of stuff? Well, we just found out about this today. We're gonna do, of course, our due diligence research on it. But nevertheless we got a hundred troops being sent over there to fight these guys -- and they claim to be Christians."

Mr. Limbaugh. Do your research first next time. Check out Invisible Children who have been fighting against the LRA for years. Get informed Mr. Limbaugh. Child Trafficking is everywhere. Child exploitation is everywhere. It is on our streets because we are asleep. Full from excess and lethargic. That Mr. Limbaugh is what is wrong with America. That Mr. Limbaugh is what is wrong with you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Haitian Diary, Days 7-12: Dancing To A Borrowed Drum

I forgot to write about the most important part of Monday! We registered Floencia for school. I think I was as excited as she was. Respire is providing her with a scholarship and she is attending school for the very first time at eight!

Floencia lives down the south side of Bellevue with a menagerie of woman and children. She is not ready when I get there. But suddenly a chair arrives. I am told to sit. From somewhere a brush and some sort of breel cream or furniture polish or ambergris for all I know. Smells nice at least. My braids are pulled, my unruly waves are teased board straight and then a very large amount of the aforementioned substance is applied liberally to the entire landscape of my hair. The words shiny and silky and slickery come to mind. 

30 minutes later and somewhat surreptitiously if not painfully shy, Floencia comes out from behind the little shed. She is in a bright white dress with her hair pretty and sharing a familiar sheen. She grabs my hand. Her mother is getting ready now. The wait continues. It is soooooooo worth it! Floencia is so nervous she cannot speak!!

Finally it is up the mountain to the little church house that serves as registrar's office. Megan and Brandi and the girls meet us and Floencia is enrolled. Brandi documents the momentous occasion!

 Floencia in the white dress, nervously awaits the declaration of her enrollment (above). Below, she realizes she is being photographed and quickly hides. Her mother is in yellow, sans stripes.

Day 7 is low key. I am up so early. Coffee and a tired-eyed meander through the gospel of Luke. So amazed at the things Christ said. The way he cuts through the BS and goes straight to the very heart of the matter. So not ready for the BS that being back in the states will bring. Language lessons on Bellevue. Drinking in all of Haiti I can. I will miss the children most.

Megan has a meeting in Port-Au-Prince about a potential grant for the school. Kyle cooks jambalaya and Brandi comes with me to the mountain. We sit on cinder-blocks and she tries to take the perfect picture of the full moon. She is a nurse and runs a baseball league for handicapped kids. We talk a little more then back to the house to get the girls to bed. Kyle and I talk music for awhile and then Tachi and I play Casino, a Haitian card game. It is a game of honesty, bluffing is not allowed and all strategy is based upon the belief that everyone is telling the truth. How refreshing. We play until Esther finally gets fussy and Tachi takes her to bed. Sleep is hard for me in Haiti. In the states sleep is a drug. But here, amidst a life that I'd love, I want the days to last forever.

Day 8. In to Port-Au-Prince to pick Megan up at the Hotel. Then to the airport to pick up a large group of Americans. The group is down to visit some orphanages. They are from all over the States. Rita and Josh will stay for the next month. The rest will stay at the house for just one night. We visit an orphanage, the details of which I'd like to relay but there are reasons I cannot. Needless to say. It would have crushed your heart. If you are the praying kind, then ask God for justice and for rescue for those kids. Here is a taste from Megan's blog

The ride back to Gressier is somber, several of the women are still shaken from the visit to the orphanage. Then conversation returns to other things and I find myself quickly missing the sound of Creole. I sit in the front with Micha on my lap and Jessica to my left. There is heavy traffic from a wreck, a naked man walks by, 2nd today, 4 total. In front of us on the side of a mountain there is a fire. It seems too bright to be so far. I imagine it is the burning bush. Ablaze but never consumed. I imagine it is Holy ground. And as if she is reading my thoughts, Micha slips out of her flip flops. I stare at the fire until I am lost in it. As soon as we get to Gressier I sneak up Bellevue. Prayer is hard but honest. I know I am being heard but I do not know what to say so I just spill.

I walk slowly down the mountain then down to the beach. The moon is covered in clouds but I don't take my flashlight out. I need the darkness tonight. I need to hide. The beds are all taken when I get back. I sleep alone on the porch from now on. Well me and the cat-sized rat. 

Day 9: Bernard, Josh and I go to a hardware store, see 2 naked men, count at 6, and then spend the day building bunk beds, a bench and a bookshelf. Fixing plumbing and other broken things. Whatever Tachi puts on our list. It is the hottest day yet. I am soaked to the bone in sweat. I try and make a "sweat angel" on the concrete. Fail. Its more like a Rorschach test. I see a butterfly where my shoulder-blades touched.  It is beginning to sink in that my time in Haiti is ending. I am restless and cagey. The girls sense my somber mood. Micha sits with me on the front stoop and consoles me with her stillness. I think of a younger her, in tatters, walking up Bellevue with her weight in water on her head. 

Day 10-12: So much more to say. So much else that I should have said. There were so many other players in this Haitian script. The kindhearted Australians, the lovely Keyeski sisters, Thorsten the eccentric upstairs German neighbor/nudist, my new buddy Brian, lunch and language lessons with the Voodoo priest below... But this is not my story to tell. Especially when Megan tells it soooo much betterTanbou prete pa janm fè bon dans.

Sitting in the Port-Au-Prince airport with Brandi, listening to a group of young Americans talk about wealth and their dreams of prestige I realized Haiti would always have my heart like no other place. And as my trip ended I took great consolation that the future of Gressier was just unfolding. Below the newly placed sign announces what that future holds for the humble little mountain called Bellevue and the beautiful people of Gressier. Please pray for them. Give with ridiculous generosity. I can assure you the money goes where Respire says. And the lives they invest in....let's just say, they pay eternal dividends.  

Friday, October 7, 2011

Rot In Hell Steve Jobs.

"Rot in Hell Steve Jobs. God hates you". So says the official mouthpiece for heaven's utter  discontent, Westboro Baptist Church, who will picket the funeral of Apple's recently deceased CEO. And to that I say, "good call!" Well played Mr. Phelps and your crazy little coterie of mush-minded minions!

The way I figure it, you are like the shadow that reveals the sun. Everywhere you go you spew the filth of hate and darkness which serves as a brilliant contrast to love and light. So bravo. Continue on my man! You are a pied piper for the lunatic fringe. Play on Mr. Phelps. 

Phelps' daughter makes Westboro's intentions known. Yep, the tweet was sent via Twitter for iPhone. The irony is beautiful.

Dear Westboro Baptist,

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

You claim to follow Jesus and yet you do nothing, NOTHING he did. You do not reach out in tenderness to a broken world. You do not grieve for those stumbling in blindness. Instead you rejoice in the despair of others. You are NOT Christians! You have never EVER heard the voice of God. You do not speak for God. Your throats are graves and only death comes from them. 

And to you "Reverend"...

Blessed are the Peacemakers Mr. Phelps, for they will be called the children of God. But you, you spread division and foment animosity. You are NOT a child of God Mr. Phelps. You are a cancer on the truth. A festering blight on the perfect beauty of the Good news. May God save your soul Mr. Phelps.

Picket your own damn funeral. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Haitian Diary, Day 6: Bathed In Bone-Colored Light.

Up before the sun. Coffee and a Cliff bar (thanks John). Spend 10 minutes trying to help a vampire-bat-sized gunpowder-black moth find its way back outside. The roosters are in rare form this Monday morning. They are crowing in three part harmonies, like they are trying out for the part. Each outdoes the other until I swear it sounds if one is going hoarse.

One of several possible finalists.

I walk to the mountain. The first of the workers are there. Language lessons with Mario my new friend. He is so wonderful and instantly our hearts are knit. Fre mwen. He is my brother. The footings for the school are almost done and soon the retaining wall will be formed. The progress is steady and honest and humble, so much like Gressier, so much like their future school.

John is finishing packing when I get back. We will all ride into Port-Au-Prince to drop John at the airport. The guys will go on so Kyle can look for materials for the school's roof and me and Megan will hit Deli-Mart and then back to the Airport to pick up Megan's close friend Brandi.  

Megan is quiet and pensive but unguarded for a moment and yet she still fidgets, ever feeling like she should be doing something. She is a light year beyond the Tulane cheerleader she was, and still growing, still I think, unaware of what she is capable of. But what she does know, is that she is not afraid. And I believe her. I would trust that girl on the streets of any city at any time of night. She knows her God is able. She is not the kind of girl who needs be told to be careful. She's the kinda girl who needs to be told "go get 'em tiger".  

Brandi arrives. She is sweet and thoughtful and maybe just a bit weary. This is her third-world vacation and no one could be happier than her to be in Haiti. She has been practicing her Creole, her and Megan catch up while I watch the world of Haiti moving by at 60 miles an hour. A naked man walks across the street. I tell the girls, "you may not want to look out the right side of the car". They both look. It will not be the last of the naked men I will see. The official count by weeks end will be ten. Everyone I ask about the phenomenon blames voodoo or just calls them crazy. And yet no one seems to be that worried about it. Pretty funny actually if not a bit surreal. 

Back at Respire HQ the girls are bouncing off the walls and Brandi is excited to see the school's progress. We walk up the mountain. It is hot. The girls have brought spray bottles. They mist themselves and us frequently. Below, the most wonderful Micha...

There is a Haitian proverb; Sak vid pa kanp.An empty sack cannot stand. 

Later that night the moon is full. No need for my flashlight as I walk the narrow path to Bellevue bathed in bone-colored light. The conversations of families can be heard from the path through tarps that serve as doors. There is laughter and storytelling and even the sing-song melody of a lullaby. Tonight prayer is intense. It as if there is a battle raging whose principal warring factions, though unseen, have laid claim on the same territory. Perhaps the ground on which I stand or the heart of a woman. Either way I pray until the release of peace and joy overcome me and then fatigue sets in. I sink to my knees. I am empty. I cannot stand.