Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Real Shame of the War on Terror: A Rant

The current situation in Iraq is, from my perspective, the epitome of irony. On the one hand, the vitriolic ideological battles at home between the President and the new congress have put to bed any notion of “bipartisanship.” But on the other hand, I find it nauseating that while we fight about the war at home, those actually fighting the war itself are often forgotten.

This shameful fact was graphically demonstrated in a recent article in People magazine. While running on the treadmill last week, I came across an article about Ty and Renee Ziegel, a young couple who are coping with the very real results of warfare. While congressional democrats opposing Bush’s plan to send additional troops to Iraq are careful to note their concern for and support of our troops, many troops and their families, like the Ziegel’s have to search a bit to find any support.

Engaged when Ty was deployed to Iraq, the couple spent months apart from each other. Then, in late 2003, Ty became the victim of a roadside bomb that while thankfully sparing his life, also left him without a left arm, and barely recognizable. The touching article talked about Renee’s commitment to her fiancĂ©, and their subsequent wedding, and I confess that this moving story about the love between these two moved my own emotions.

But two paragraphs later, my sentimentality quickly turned to anger when I read that Renee is still forced by their financial situation to work part-time. While this supplementary income, in addition to Ty’s army pension, keeps the young couple afloat, her part-time work keeps her from her husband’s side . . . the place where she really wants to be.

Immediately, I thought of all our “elected officials,” who from the day they enter office, are the beneficiaries of six-figure salaries and the best health care plans money can buy . . .all at taxpayer expense mind you. A President can send over 21,000 soldiers into battle, and will be taken care of for the rest of his life. A congressman can cut off funding to those same 21,000 soldiers while still enjoying his publicly funded healthcare and retirement. But those actually doing the fighting, even those severely injured, require the part-time employment of their spouse in order to make ends meet. This is the travesty of all travesties!

Whether you are a supporter or dissenter regarding the conflict in Iraq, all of us have a solemn responsibility to do what we can to ensure that those protecting our freedoms abroad are taken care of. When politicians are making a “career” out of a job that was never meant as a career, while at the same time career soldiers are having to seek second jobs and apply for government assistance in order to stay financially soluable, something is wrong.

The Old Testament prophets Hosea and Amos spoke sternly to those with wealth and power who took advantage of those in a lower socio-economic class. In the New Testament, James has equally strong words to the rich. It appears that such words now need to be spoken on the floor of the United States Senate, the floor of the House, and the Oval Office.

Thoughts of the wounded, the grief-stricken survivors of those who have been casualties of war, and the financial strains of both of these groups should riddle with guilt the conscience of every lawmaker in congress . . . every time they cash their exorbant paychecks.

What is the right thing to do? I’m sure this sounds radical, but it is right nonetheless. The public should, if it is possible, reach into the chambers of the House and Senate, reach into the confines of the Oval, reach into the recesses of the Supreme Court, and take away the big salaries. Take away all the health benefits . . . .and give it to soldiers like Ty Ziegel.

Political office was never intended as an avenue of personal gain. Furthermore, it is not the legislature, the judiciary, or the executive branch that guarantees our freedom. Congress retains the ability to make law at the pleasure of the people because of the soldiers. The President executes his office in security because of the soldiers. Judges adjudicate without duress because of the soldiers. And this nation is free because of the soldiers.

To get closer to home: I am called to preach the Gospel, and to do so “in season and out of season.” I could have been born in the Sudan, or in another nation where preaching the Gospel carried severe penalties. I could be preaching today under the threat of the persecution of me and my family. But I am not. I am preaching without fear of persecution or aggression. And I am doing it because of men like Ty Ziegel. That he and Renee are struggling to make ends meet after the sacrifice he made for his country is an embarrassment to this nation. Men like Ziegel should never worry again about putting food on the table. All expenses should be paid . . .courtesy of those of us who benefit from his sacrifice. And such expenses should be allocated, courtesy of those we place in office to do the right thing.

Personally, I believe that history will judge that this war was indeed just. While the road to freedom in Iraq has been far from perfect, the service of our military forces has been exemplary, and there is now a democracy in, of all places, the middle east! But any soiled reputation our country wears for not taking care of our own, we deserve!

9 comments:

adam said...

well said, joel. i have heard this issue addressed in the media from time to time, but obviously not with a moral/ethical perspective from the bible. thanks for the thoughts...

Anonymous said...

Just happened across your blog and enjoyed reading this entry very much Joel. I expected to see dozens of comments but only see one - let me be the second to say "very well said".

Lampajoo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lampajoo said...

oh, and you're not a christian.

"Thou shalt not kill." --God

Joel Rainey said...

Lampajoo,

Regarding the genuineness of my Christian profession, I am what I am only by God's grace, and certainly not because of anything in myself. That said, I would be happy to discuss the context of Exodus 20 with you (the verse you quoted), particularly in light of other texts such as Genesis 9:6 and Romans 13. But in short, the issue of war, the death penalty, etc. cannot be dismissed as easily as you seem to think.

Regarding your post on the military, it has been deleted. While there may be merit to the question of whether we can afford to do what I suggest, I will not allow you to disparage our soldiers on this site. It is the soldiers to guard your freedom to express such views, and I would challenge you to remember this with solemnity the next time you are tempted to make a sarcastic statement referring to the "babying" of the wives of soldiers. I'm not suggesting that we provide Mrs. Ziegel with a life of luxury, but she should be able to provide the care her husband (who again, served so that you could have the freedom to be an idiot) needs as a result of his dedicated service.

You may have the freedom to make sarcastic remarks about the troops in another venue, but I will not grant you that freedom on this site. If you want to speak candidly about the financial consequences of my proposal, or the budgetary effects of additional military spending with respect to the soldiers, you may do so...but speak carefully. The next disparaging statement you make about our soldiers will result in your being permanently banned from this site.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon the article regarding Mr. Ziegel about two weeks ago in a nice slideshow format online, perhaps MSN. I cannot find it if someone could help me I would appreciate it. Please send the link to leenda20@hotmail.com

As a former military wife and being raised in the military from childhood to adulthood, images like these haunt me. These are my friends, my relatives, and I weep bitter tears for their sacrifices.

They defend my freedom for pennies, their families on foodstamps and welfare at times, and when they are injured beyond imaginiation they are forgotten by the government that put them in harms way and scoffed at by the people they are trying to defend.

I pray that God will make the crooked paths straight and give them the hidden treasures of the deep, as mentioned in the book of Job.

And to Joel, your posting is welcomed by those of us who appreciate what you understand.

Anonymous said...

And may I also add that there is no such thing as "babying" military spouses and their families.

Anyone who honestly believes that has never met one and doesn't begin to understand the deplorable way our military families are treated.

Unless you are the family/ spouse of a high ranking officer, you are treated worse than the enemy we fight.

People who work at McDonald's often make more than a low ranking service member.

It is horrible that a dead marine equals $500k as long as he signed up for his free life insurance.

But that an injured marine who loses all but his life is barely cared for and his family treated the same if not worse.


Not all military spouses choose their title either.

Unfortunately, recruiters don't require spouse permission slips prior to enlisting people into the service.

Unless you have walked in our shoes, or have nothing intelligent to say, please honor us with your silence.

Just thought I would clear that up for the blogger whose posting you kindly removed.

Thank you.

Joel Rainey said...

Annonymous,

I cannot possibly express with words the appreciation I have for you and your husband . . .the sacrifices you both made so that I could continue to be free. As far as I am concerned, it is our military (as opposed to our lawmakers, our governors, or our courts) who safeguard our liberties. Thank you for serving so that I am able to do the work of the ministry without fear of persecution or aggression.

As a participant in the "Patriot Guard," let me say that I am one who will always come to the quick defense of those who defend and protect my family and me. Thanks again!

tar said...

Hello,

Thanks very much for your post. Well written and expresses my sentiments exactly.