“Signs of the Times”

When I was a child growing up in the extreme right wing fundamentalist movement, I heard many gloom and doom sermons about the end times.  The good Reverend Jack Van Impe had heard from God many times that the world was going to end at least a dozen times by now.  He preached his sermons with such fervor that, as a young developing mind taught to obey and trust my elders, he was utterly believable.  Souls had to be saved and lives gotten right with the Lord before immanent damnation.  The clock was ticking.

He, and all of those of his ilk, and they are legion, always pointed vividly to the signs of the times.  They plucked the signs of the times right out of the scriptures and found them manifested in the headlines of the day as proof positive that God would be back by sun down.  They said it so often anyone would start to think it true—must be a name for that psychological ploy.

I guess they all have good intentions.  I suppose they believe that fear can motivate people to get their hearts right.  Getting your heart right is a good thing.  (I choose to believe this rather than to be cynical and believe they are trying to motivate people to put money in the collection plates.)    And, I must agree with them that fear can be a powerful motivator.  Why, look at George W. Bush.  To keep the nation’s heart right, he periodically terrorizes the nation with no real specificity at all, just with the colors orange and yellow.  That was a huge leap in thinking (about a book’s worth I think).  I digress.

But the motivation fear provides is short lived.  I saw a bumper sticker on a car in Florida while I was on vacation.  This sign is truly a sign of our times.  I loved it.  The message was simple yet powerful and very clever.  It said…

Be all you can be: Love your enemy.  I heard this message as well in my right wing fundamentalist upbringing, but not very often. This sentiment was typically only mentioned on the occasion when one adolescent wasn’t getting along with another adolescent.  And, like the many times God has not returned since the early 1970s when I first heard Jack Van Impe, this message was never made real in the lives of the people in the extreme right wing movement either.  It too was just words, just vibrating air.

In fact, you should have heard what those ministers called other ministers: apostates, satan’s mouth piece, lovers of the anti-christ.  With my own ears I heard the Reverend Bob Jones, Jr., call the Pope of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, the antichrist!  Ain’t no love in them words, and those words were for their competitors, other ministers with whom the had had a disagreement of one sort or another.  What were they saying about their enemies?!  But again, I start to digress.

I have only seen the above message on one bumper sticker once.  Rather like my younger days, a message rarely heard and never practiced institutionally.  (I find great joy in reporting that, as a child, I did know individuals who lived this wonderful imperative of love.)

But I see many signs in yards and on bumper stickers with another message.  They are often red, white, and blue.  The message:  Support our troops and our president.  I am angered! I see another psychological device being used here.  Isn’t it called transference?  Close association of one thing or emotional state with another so as to transfer the positive or negative emotional associations of the one with the other?

Everyone wants to support our troops, but the polls suggest rising numbers of Americans with concerns over George W. Bush’s job performance.  I am a patriotic American who loves his country and supports our troops.  I want to support our troops by bringing them home from a war in which I believe they should never have been engaged!

I do not support this president, a man who sent our troops into harms way, killing hundreds and hundreds of them for absolutely no justifiable reason whatsoever.  Either George W. Bush lied to the American people (which is what I believe is most likely) and should be fired, or he put together a counter terrorism team and an intelligence community that is so utterly incompetent that he should be fired (which I think is doubtful).  Although, before 9/11 John Ashcroft told his advisers he didn’t want to hear any more about terrorism?!  What was that all about?

George W. Bush spent 42% of the first 8 months of his presidency on vacation and didn’t even meet with his own head of counter-terrorism until after 9/11?  He then demanded a link be found between Iraq and the terrorist attack on 9/11 when he was told none existed?

I am offended when the republican party tries in any way to link this man with support for our troops.  I have strong emotional ties to these troops, in part because one of them is a member of my immediate family.  I recently met a man who signed up to serve our nation because, after 9/11, he felt it was his patriotic duty.  Our troops are good people, not the toys of the wealthy and powerful.

Bush’s agenda, his lies to the American people, his orders to bomb innocent poor people who pose no credible treat to our nation whatsoever sent her, my family member, and many, many others overseas.  Bush then tries to reduce their salary?!  Sounds to me like he should be the one supporting the troops!

How dare the republican media machine try to blend my support and emotional attachment for our troops with my dissatisfaction for a man I want out of the white house!  He has had long enough to produce his often touted weapons of mass destruction.  He and his staff spoke so frequently of WMDs I would have thought we would have found them in every Iraqi household.

You may certainly disagree with me, but as far as I am concerned Bush is a liar.  Perhaps this was more about revenge and oil revenues than WMDs.  I am disgusted that the last 3 American presidents have lied to the American people: Read my lips… , I did not have… , and now Weapons of mass destruction… .    But as my other favorite signs of the times bumper sticker said, When Clinton lied nobody died.

The republicans tried to impeach Clinton.  Where is their moral imperative now?!  When will the duplicitous White House say and do truth.  Although, I must add, in defense of George Bush, Sr., that when he saw his economic tax cuts were failing miserably, he had the guts and courage to reverse his failed policy–respectable, honorable behavior.

Cool signs of the times: Be all you can be: Love your enemy.  We all need to practice what we preach.