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Suns & Shields

By Rachelle Hamlin

Read more of Rachelle's editorials:  Suns & Shields Index page


By: Rachelle Hamlin

Fort Fairfield Journal, March 15, 2015

On the phone this week my friend said the words “fear” and “afraid” over and over. Our conversation centered on daily life. She explained that law and fear were dominating her family. At first it was hard to follow her thoughts. They were so unlike my own. This is my year to be happy and my plan is going well.

She described a life ruled by fear; like fear of not having all the boots lined up in a row, all toes facing in because that was the law of the house. Oh, that was a great example! Who hasn't run into that kind of law? But, this was not her house. This was someone else's law they had to follow at her church. I don't face that kind of fear in my house but I have been in situations where conditions were just as stifling. Some people never learned the old saying, “Don't sweat the little things.”

Soon after her call George and I turned on Fox News. The screen was alive with stories about mammoth fear being generated by radical Islamists in the Near East. In my opinion, those goons did not suddenly become robots in search of Nirvana overnight! Another friend fell in love with an Islamic man and married him. The more she told me about her necessary household rules, the less interest I had in ever going to see her at home. She was prepping me about what I would have to do just to enter her dwelling! She seemed very proud of this, and I admit to understanding why one could be proud of such cleanliness. When I studied all things Japanese, I admired the laws that govern the classic entryways of their quaint old dwellings.

But I lost all interest in that level of control after spending a delicious month at the beach in a rented cottage. On first sight, I was dismayed at the haphazard way the place was arranged and the lack of carpeting. But what freedom! My entire work consisted of taking a broom to the floor, making beds if I felt like it and doing dishes. All the rest was the joy of family and living a good life. That month changed me forever. I have to say; it set me free.

Think about Islam in the East. It is as covered with laws as Daisy Mae's dog is covered with fleas. You don't pray wherever or whenever you want or ignore prayers if you wish. You wait for the bell as if the entire nation is one monastery and everyone goes outside, lines up like its a boarding school. Each takes the exact same position, prays the exact same prescribed prayers until its over. Its a great show of control by a few over many. No one is allowed to deviate... sometimes on the penalty of death.

Why are we Westerners so surprised that those leaders despise our freedom to do what we please, when we please, the way we want to? For most of the civilized world (and Muslims are civilized to a drastic degree) societies are strong to the degree that one learns the norms early and deviates from them very little. Think of Germany before Nazis. The English had their stiff upper lips but Germans had stiff backbones and strict rules of conduct. What I am saying here is that freedom looks chaotic to people who live by fear, controlled by outside forces. Real freedom comes from self-control... that is, from the force that drives one's own soul.

Now we come to the issue of fear. Twenty one Christians are beheaded and the entire world can see this demonstration of authority and power. One photograph showed a long line of orange suited Christians marching towards the cameras. Each of them has one captor, entirely clad in black, standing between him and the next condemned man. This line stretches away in a curve to appear endless. Each captive is short as if planned this way. Each terrorist is head and shoulders taller than his victim. This creates a vision of a powerful, organized army with a pitifully inadequate foe.

I see that and I think: This is exactly how it feels to be a radical Muslim. [From birth all I have known is a life dominated by powerful forces impossible to stand up against. All one can do is cower before them. This too must be the will of all-powerful Allah.] In child education we call it “acting out”-- the inside showing on the outside. The heavy hand of law in the name of Allah made them victims of the powerful. How terrible it is to be a terrorist!

Yesterday a Muslim said he was taught that heaven is gained by doing more good works than bad in this world but Jihad (martyrdom for Islam) assures heaven for those who have more bad than good works. Obviously that includes taking the lives of innocent people and dispatching them to hell. What a fiendish farce!

From the line of boots in a Protestant church, to a line of Catholics praying rote prayers, to a line of black martyrs of Allah creating martyrs of Christ, the distance is not far at all. It is only the very familiar face of fear and control that we observe wherever freedom of heart is not valued and practiced.



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