One Million Terrorists? — by Paul Craig Roberts

http://www.antiwar. com/roberts/ ?articleid= 13153

July 18, 2008

The Bush Regime’s “terrorist” protection schemes have reached the height of total incompetence and utter absurdity. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, a private organization that defends the US Constitution that inattentive Americans neglect, there are now one million names on the “terrorist” watch list.

One of them is that of former Assistant US Attorney General Jim Robinson, whose top security clearances are current. Every time Mr. Robinson flies away on business, he is delayed by a totally incompetent “terrorist” protection racket that cannot tell a person named Jim Robinson, who served in the highest echelons of the US government, from a Muslim terrorist.

What confidence can we have in a regime that is incapable of differentiating an Assistant US Attorney General from a terrorist?

Mr. Robinson said: “If I were convinced that America is a safer place because I get hassled at the airport, I might put up with it, but I doubt it. I expect my story is similar to hundreds of thousands of people who are on this list and find themselves inconvenienced. ”

“Hundreds of thousands of people” on a watch list that they have no business being on?

Yes. “Members of Congress, nuns, war heroes and other ‘suspicious characters,’ with names like Robert Johnson and Gary Smith, have become trapped in the Kafkaesque clutches of this list, with little hope of escape,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.

And this is America, not Nazi Germany?

How can Airport “Security” possibly protect anyone when the idiots cannot differentiate a high level American government official from a terrorist?

Do you really believe there are one million terrorists and nothing has blown up in the US since September 11, 2001 (assuming you believe the government’s account of that episode)?

How can there possibly be 1,000,000 terrorists and America still be in one piece? If there were 1,000,000 terrorists, America would be in ruins. According to the Bush Regime’s line, it only took a handful of terrorists to destroy America’s tallest skyscrapers and a section of the Pentagon and to send the President of the United States scurrying to a hiding place.

One million terrorists could bring America to its knees, and they wouldn’t need to fly on airplanes to accomplish this.

What we are witnessing with the one million person “watch list” is bureaucracy run amok. One Million Terrorists makes the danger seem overwhelming. Such overwhelming danger rationalizes the aggressive behavior of the bullies and thugs attracted by the power of confiscating your toothpaste and bottled water and riffling your belongings in your luggage.

Show your ID.
Take off your shoes.
Take off your belt.
Take off your jacket.
Empty your pockets.

Don’t complain about being searched without a warrant or you will miss your flight. You might be arrested, handcuffed, kicked and otherwise abused – the fate of many American citizens.

The morons who comprise the US government call the “watch list” one of the government’s “most effective tools in the fight against terrorism.”

What an effective tool it is! It cannot tell the difference between Jim Robinson and a Muslim terrorist.

The “watch list” has not apprehended a single terrorist, but thousands of American citizens have been inconvenienced and arrested.

The ACLU says that “putting a million names on a watch list is a guarantee that the list will do more harm than good by interfering with the travel of innocent people and wasting huge amounts of our limited security resources on bureaucratic wheel-spinning. ”

It is worse than that. What the “watch list” or “no-fly list” is doing is training Americans to submit to warrantless searches, to abandon their constitutional rights, and to submit to humiliation by thugs and bullies. A Gestapo is being trained to have no qualms about searching and intimidating fellow citizens, using any excuse to delay or arrest them. Americans are being taught to use arbitrary power and to submit to arbitrary power. In the false name of “safety from terrorists,” Americans are being made the least safe people on earth.

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RELIGION FOR HUMANITY

By  Pormadi Simbolon

 

Witnessing many religious cases in Indonesia, we can see that some people of certain religion has used physical force to defend their interest in the name of religion. Their way to reach their purpose had made people of other religion intimidated. In this point, it is necessary to question, what is the function of religion? Why do a religion destruct humanity?

 

As the feeling of  reverence which men entertain towards a Supreme Being, religion  is should be  reject the way of cruelty. Religion is the way to recognize of God as an object of worship, love, obedience and piety. Logically, if a religion is a way to respect God (Supreme Being), it means the people of religion should respect God’s creatures, include human being.

 

Destruction of religion

 

Abd A’la, an expert from Religious Reform Project (RePro) said, physical force is contrary to every single of religion, included Islamic values. Harshness which showed by some people of Islamic radicalism is opposed to Islamic teachings (Suara Pembaruan Daily, July 4, 2008). The physical force to other people can not be tolerated.

 

The main question is, why some people of religion should do cruelty to others who having different faith?  I think that most of people of every single religion do not internalized yet the main substance of a religion.  In fact, the main substance of every religion is LOVE. The people of religion should be teached to love God and to love neighbours.

 

It is clearly, substance of loving God also mean accepting any differences of other people in ethnic groups, religion, race, ideology and so on. The destruction of humanity also be the destruction of the face of religion.

 

Duty of religious leaders

 

We used to hear that there are some religious leaders who teach their people hatred to other religions. Its results are conflicts in togetherness. The people of this religion are not ready to live together with other people of different religions. Basically, this hatred is opposed to universal values e.g. human rights as United Nation Organisation declared 1948.

 

It is the main duty of every single leader of religion to build this country as a place for people of different religion can live together. It is the time for religious leaders to realize it in this globalization spirit.

 

One of the main way is making the substance of religious teachings to be internalised  by  people of religions. What are the religious values, they should be showed first to the people. According to our positive thinking, any system of faith must be a respect to God and so it should be a respect also to humanity.

 

The other way is spreading the universal values of every single religion. Religion is not a system of worship only, but also a system of behaviors to other people in daily life as the result of them.  I mean, the love to God is not celebrated in a church or in a masjid, and other religious place only, but it should be manifested in  daily life’s attitude to others. Hurting other people is also hurting his/her creator.

 

Besides, the existential principle of Republic Indonesia is Pancasila, the five principles. Pancasila teaches how to live together between people from any cultural background in Indonesia. The values of Pancasila has verified by the founding fathers to be the principles of life for Indonesian people. Pancasila should be the supreme direction to live in peace and tolerance.

 

And finally, it is a task for religious leaders and for all of religious people to build a pluralistic world civilization where different religious traditions can co-exist and mutually reinforce the cause of peace and human dignity. It is a challenging task for people of religion.

 

It is the time for people of religions to realize that religion is not for God only, but it is also for humanity too. Destruction of humanity is the destruction of religion too. Franz Magnis Suseno, a philosopher of Dryarkara in Jakarta said, “Do not make faith (religion) to be a cause of harshness!” We hope that people of different religions can live together in peace and tolerance.

 

The writes is a former student STFT Widyasasana Malang.

He can be reached at: pormadi.simbolon@gmail.com   

Crude Oil Rises to Record on Speculation Israel May Attack Iran

Crude Oil Rises to Record on Speculation Israel May Attack Iran
By Alexander Kwiatkowski

July 11 (Bloomberg) — Crude oil rose more than $5 to a record on concerns that Israel may be preparing to attack Iran, while a strike in Brazil and renewed militant activity in Nigeria threaten to cut supplies.

Oil rallied to a record high of $146.90 a barrel in New York after the Jerusalem Post said Israeli war planes practiced over Iraq, adding to speculation the country is preparing to attack Iran. A Brazilian union said it plans a five-day strike on platforms that pump 80 percent of the country’s crude and Nigerian militants pledged to renew attacks on oil facilities.

“We are now in uncharted territory here with the Iranian situation,” Tom James, head of commodities trading at Liquid Capital Markets Ltd., said in a phone interview “People are just too scared to sell.”

Crude oil for August delivery rose as much as $5.25, or 3.7 percent, to an all-time high of $146.90 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was trading at $146.59 at 1:46 p.m. in London.

Israeli war planes are conducting maneuvers in Iraqi airspace and using U.S. airbases in the country, possibly practicing for a strike against Iran, the newspaper reported, citing comments by Iraqi officials in local media. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev denied the report.

Iran, OPEC’s second biggest producer, this week tested missiles capable of reaching Israel.

Brent crude oil for August settlement rose as much as $5.22 a barrel, or 3.7 percent, to $147.25 a barrel and was trading at $146.94 at 1:46 p.m. local time on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Falling Stockpiles

Yesterday, the contract gained $5.45, or 4 percent, to $142.03 a barrel. Prices climbed to a record $146.69 on July 3.

Oil may rise next week because of threats to supply from Iran and Nigeria and falling stockpiles in the U.S., the biggest energy-consuming country, according to a Bloomberg News survey.

Gasoline prices in the U.S. rose to a record. Futures for August delivery rose as much as 10.46 cents, or 3 percent, to $3.6155 a gallon on Nymex.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline at the pump in the U.S was $4.11 on July 8, according to AAA, 38 percent higher than a year earlier.

About 4,500 employees of state-controlled Petroleo Brasileiro SA will take part in a protest on platforms in the offshore Campos basin to get full pay for the day they return to the mainland after a 14-day shift at sea, a union official said yesterday.

Iran’s Exports

The standoff has led to concern that Iran may come under attack from the U.S. or Israel, disrupting exports from OPEC’s second-biggest producer.

“You could survive with one of these factors, but if they come all at the same time it will drive prices up,” said Thina Saltvedt, an analyst at Nordea Bank AB in Oslo. “As soon as violent attacks increase in Nigeria it is a threat to production.’ ‘

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said attacks will resume on oil facilities. The Nigerian militant group said it will call off its unilateral cease-fire beginning midnight on July 12.

MEND’s attacks on pipelines and other installations have cut more than 20 percent of Nigeria’s oil exports since 2006. MEND says it is fighting for a greater share of oil wealth for the impoverished inhabitants of the Niger Delta.

The group declared a cease-fire after a June 19 attack on Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Bonga deep-water oilfield, located 120 kilometers (75 miles) offshore that cut 190,000 barrels a day of oil output.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexander Kwiatkowski in London at akwiatkowsk2@ bloomberg. netNesa Subrahmaniyan in Singapore at nesas@bloomberg. net.

Last Updated: July 11, 2008 08:50 EDT

What is “Neo-Liberalism” ?

(http://www.geocitie s.com/CapitolHil l/Lobby/8731/ neolib.html)

“Neo-liberalism” is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the last 25 years or so. Although the word is  rarely heard in the United States, you can clearly see the effects of  neo-liberalism here as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer.

“Liberalism” can refer to political, economic, or even religious  ideas. In the U.S. political liberalism has been a strategy to  prevent social conflict. It is presented to poor and working people  as progressive compared to conservative or Rightwing. Economic  liberalism is different. Conservative politicians who say they hate
“liberals” — meaning the political type — have no real problem with  economic liberalism, including neo- liberalism.

“Neo” means we are talking about a new kind of liberalism. So what was the old kind? The liberal school of economics became famous in Europe when Adam Smith, an English economist, published a book in
1776 called THE WEALTH OF NATIONS. He and others advocated the abolition of government intervention in economic matters. No restrictions on manufacturing, no barriers to commerce, no tariffs, he said; free trade was the best way for a nation’s  economy to develop. Such ideas were “liberal” in the sense of no
controls. This application of individualism encouraged “free”  enterprise,” “free” competition — which came to mean, free for the  capitalists to make huge profits as they wished.

Economic liberalism prevailed in the United States through the 1800s and early 1900s. Then the Great Depression of the 1930s led an economist named John Maynard Keynes to a theory that challenged
liberalism as the best policy for capitalists. He said, in essence,  that full employment is necessary for capitalism to grow and it can  be achieved only if governments and central banks intervene to  increase employment. These ideas had much influence on President  Roosevelt’s New Deal — which did improve life for many people. The  belief that government should advance the common good became widely accepted.

But the capitalist crisis over the last 25 years, with its shrinking  profit rates, inspired the corporate elite to revive economic  liberalism. That’s what makes it “neo” or new. Now, with the rapid  globalization of the capitalist economy, we are seeing neo-liberalism  on a global scale.

A memorable definition of this process came from Subcomandante Marcos  at the Zapatista-sponsored
<http://spin. com.mx/%7Ehvelar de/Mexico/ EZLN/encuentro- neoliberalism. html>Encuentro  Intercontinental por la Humanidad y contra el Neo-liberalismo  (Inter-continental Encounter for Humanity and Against Neo-liberalism)  of August 1996 in Chiapas when he said: “what the Right offers is to
turn the world into one big mall where they can buy Indians here,  women there ….” and he might have added, children, immigrants, workers or even a whole country like Mexico.”

The main points of neo-liberalism include:

1) THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating “free” enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no  matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to
international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by  de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers’ rights that had been  won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all,
total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To  convince us this is good for us, they say “an unregulated market is  the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit
everyone.” It’s like Reagan’s “supply-side” and “trickle-down” economics — but somehow the wealth didn’t trickle down very much.

2) CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and  health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even  maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply — again in the name of
reducing government’s role. Of course, they don’t oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.

3) DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that  could diminsh profits, including protecting the environmentand safety on the job.

4) PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to  private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads,  toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water.
Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of  concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.

5) ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF “THE PUBLIC GOOD” or “COMMUNITY” and replacing it with “individual responsibility. ” Pressuring the poorest  people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care,
education and social security all by themselves — then blaming them,  if they fail, as “lazy.”

Around the world, neo-liberalism has been imposed by powerful financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF),  the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. It is raging all over Latin America. The first clear example of neo-liberalism at  work came in Chile (with thanks to University of Chicago economist  Milton Friedman), after the CIA-supported coup against the popularly elected Allende regime in 1973. Other countries followed, with some of the worst effects in Mexico where wages declined 40 to 50% in the  first year of NAFTA while the cost of living rose by 80%. Over 20,000  small and medium businesses have failed and more than 1,000 state- owned enterprises have been privatized in Mexico. As one scholar  said, “Neoliberalism means the neo-colonization of Latin America.”

In the United States neo-liberalism is destroying welfare programs; attacking the rights of labor (including all immigrant workers); and  cutbacking social programs. The Republican “Contract” on America is
pure neo-liberalism. Its supporters are working hard to deny  protection to children, youth, women, the planet itself — and trying to trick us into acceptance by saying this will “get government off  my back.” The beneficiaries of neo-liberalism are a minority of the world’s people. For the vast majority it brings even more suffering than before: suffering without the small, hard-won gains of the last  60 years, suffering without end.  <http://www.latino. com/opinion/ spec0324. html>

Elizabeth Martinez is a  longtime civil rights activist and author of several books, including “500 Years of Chicano History in Photographs. ”

Arnoldo Garcia is a member of the Oakland-based Comite Emiliano Zapata, affiliated to the National Commission for Democracy in Mexico.

Both writers attended the Intercontinental Encounter for Humanity and  against Neoliberalism, held July 27 -August 3,1996, in La Realidad, Chiapas.

A Letter of John Powell to his student, the theology of faith

Father John Powell, a professor at Loyola University in Chicago, writes about a student in his Theology of Faith class named Tommy:

Some twelve years ago, I stood watching my university students file into the classroom for our first session in the Theology of Faith.

    That was the day I first saw Tommy.  My eyes and my mind both blinked.  He was combing his long flaxen hair, which hung six inches below his shoulders.  It was the first time I had ever seen a boy with hair that long.  I guess it was just coming into fashion then.  I know in my mind that it isn’t what’s on your head but what’s in it that counts; but on that day I was unprepared and my emotions flipped.  I immediately filed Tommy under ‘S’ for strange… Very strange.

    Tommy turned out to be the ‘atheist in residence’ in my Theology of Faith course.  He constantly objected to, smirked at, or whined about the possibility of an unconditionally loving Father/God.  We lived with each other in relative peace for one semester, although I admit he was for me at times a serious pain in the back pew.

        When he came up at the end of the course to turn in his final exam, he asked in a cynical tone, ‘Do you think I’ll ever find God?’

     I decided instantly on a little shock therapy. ‘No!’ I said very emphatically.

     ‘Why not,’ he responded, ‘I thought that was the product you were pushing.’

 

     I let him get five steps from the classroom door and then called out, ‘Tommy!  I don’t think you’ll ever find Him, but I am absolutely certain that He will find you!’  He shrugged a little and left my class and my life.

 

    I felt slightly disappointed at the thought that he had missed my clever line — He will find you!  At least I thought it was clever

 

     Later I heard that Tommy had graduated, and I was duly grateful.

 

     Then a sad report came.  I heard that Tommy had terminal cancer.  Before I could search him out, he came to see me.  When he walked into my office, his body was very badly wasted and the long hair had all fallen out as a result of chemotherapy.  But his eyes were bright and his voice was firm, for the first time, I believe.  ‘Tommy, I’ve thought about you so often; I hear you are sick,’ I blurted out.

 

     ‘Oh, yes, very sick.  I have cancer in both lungs.  It’s a matter of weeks.’

    ‘Can you talk about it, Tom?’ I asked.

    ‘Sure, what would you like to know?’ he replied

    ‘What’s it like to be only twenty-four and dying?

    ‘Well, it could be worse.

    ‘Like what?

    ‘Well, like being fifty and having no values or ideals, like being fifty and thinking that booze, seducing women, and making money are the real biggies in life..

 

    I began to look through my mental file cabinet under ‘S’ where I had filed Tommy as strange.  (It seems as though everybody I try to reject by classification, God sends back into my life to educate me.)

 

    ‘But what I really came to see you about,’ Tom said, ‘is something you said to me on the last day of class.’  (He remembered!)  He continued, ‘I asked you if you thought I would ever find God and you said, ‘No!’ which surprised me   Then you said, ‘But He will find you.’  I thought about that a lot, even though my search for God was hardly intense at that time.

 

    (My clever line.  He thought about that a lot!)

 

    ‘But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and told me that it was malignant, that’s when I got serious about locating God..  And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really began banging bloody fists against the bronze doors of heaven.  But God did not come out.  In fact, nothing happened.  Did you ever try anything for a long time with great effort and with no success?  You get psychologically glutted, fed up with trying.  And then you quit

 

    ‘Well, one day I woke up, and instead of throwing a few more futile appeals over that high brick wall to a God who may be or may not be there, I just quit.  I decided that I didn’t really care about God, about an after life, or anything like that.  I decided to spend what time I had left doing something more profitable.  I thought about you and your class and I remembered something else you had said: ‘The essential sadness is to go through life without loving.  But it would be almost equally sad to go through life and leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you had loved them.”

    ‘So, I began with the hardest one, my Dad.  He was reading the newspaper when I approached him.  ‘Dad.

    ‘Yes, what?’ he asked without lowering the newspaper.

    ‘Dad, I would like to talk with you.’

    ‘Well, talk.

    ‘I mean . It’s really important.’

    The newspaper came down three slow inches. ‘What is it?’

 

    ‘Dad, I love you, I just wanted you to know that.’  Tom smiled at me and said it with obvious satisfaction, as though he felt a warm and secret joy flowing inside of him.  ‘The newspaper fluttered to the floor.  Then my father did two things I could never remember him ever doing before.  He cried and he hugged me.  We talked all night, even though he had to go to work the next morning.  It felt so good to be close to my father, to see his tears, to feel his hug, to hear him say that he loved me.’

 

    ‘It was easier with my mother and little brother.  They cried with me, too, and we hugged each other, and started saying real nice things to each other.  We shared the things we had been keeping secret for so many years.

 

  ‘I was only sorry about one thing — that I had waited so long.  Here I was, just beginning to open up to all the people I had actually been close to.

 

    ‘Then, one day I turned around and God was there.  He didn’t come to me when I pleaded with Him.  I guess I was like an animal trainer holding out a hoop, ‘C’mon, jump through.  C’mon, I’ll give you three days, three weeks.”

 

    ‘Apparently God does things in His own way and at His own hour.  But the important thing is that He was there.  He found me!  You were right.  He found me even after I stopped looking for Him.’

 

    ‘Tommy,’ I practically gasped, ‘I think you are saying something very important and much more universal than you realize.  To me, at least, you are saying that the surest way to find God is not to make Him a private possession, a problem solver, or an instant consolation in time of need, but rather by opening to love.  You know, the Apostle John said that.  He said: ‘God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him.’  Tom, could I ask you a favor?  You know, when I had you in class you were a real pain.  But (laughingly) you can make it all up to me now.  Would you come into my present Theology of Faith course and tell them what you have just told me?  If I told them the same thing it wouldn’t be half as effective as if you were to tell it.

    ‘Oooh.. I was ready for you, but I don’t know if I’m ready for your class.’

    ‘Tom, think about it.  If and when you are ready, give me a call.’

    In a few days Tom called, said he was ready for the class, that he wanted to do that for God and for me.  So we scheduled a date.

    However, he never made it.  He had another appointment, far more important than the one with me and my class.  Of course, his life was not really ended by his death, only changed.  He made the great step from faith into vision.  He found a life far more beautiful than the eye of man has ever seen or the ear of man has ever heard or the mind of man has ever imagined.

    Before he died, we talked one last time.

    ‘I’m not going to make it to your class,’ he said.

    ‘I know, Tom.’

    ‘Will you tell them for me?  Will you … tell the whole world for me?’

    I will, Tom.  I’ll tell them.  I’ll do my best.’

    So, to all of you who have been kind enough to read this simple story about God’s love, thank you for listening.  And to you, Tommy, somewhere in the sunlit, verdant hills of heaven — I told them, Tommy, as best I could.

   If this story means anything to you, please pass it on to a friend or two.  It is a true story and is not enhanced for publicity purposes.

    With thanks, Rev. John Powell, Professor, Loyola University, Chicago

 “The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you” (Zep. 3: 17)

  

Herman & Laura

1737 Linneman Rd.

Cincinnati, OH 45238

Powerful Tips for A Better Life

These are really very powerful. Implement whatever you can.

 

1.        Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.

 2.        Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Buy a lock if you have to.

 3.        Buy a DVR.  Tape your late night shows and get more sleep.

 4.        When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, ‘My purpose is to __________ today.’

 5.        Live with the 3 E’s — Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.

 6.        Play more games and read more books than you did in 2007.

 7.        Make time to practice meditation, yoga or stretching, and prayer. They provide us with daily fue  for our busy lives.

 8.        Spend more time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.

 9.        Dream more while you are awake.

 10.   Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured from plants.

 11.   Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, broccoli, almonds & walnuts.

 12.   Try to make at least three people smile each day.

 13.   Clear clutter from your house, your car, your desk and let new and flowing energy into your life.

 14.   Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.

 15.   Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.

 16.   Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.

 17.   Try & pay an honest compliment to someone you wouldn’t normally.

 18.   Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

 

19.   Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

 20.   Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

 21.   You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

 22.   Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.

 23.   Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

 24.   No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

 25.   Frame every so-called disaster with these words: ‘In five years, will this matter?’

 26.   Forgive everyone for everything.

 27.   What other people think of you is none of your business.

 28.   However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

 29.   Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will.  Stay in touch.

 30.   Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

 31.   Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

 32.   The best is yet to come.

 33.   No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

 34.   Do the right thing!

 35.   Call your family often.

 36.   Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: I am thankful for _____. Today I accomplished ______.

 37.   Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.

 

38.   Enjoy the ride. Remember this is not Disney World and you certainly don’t want a fast pass. You only have one ride through life, so make the most of it and enjoy the ride.

 

      May your troubles be less,

      May your blessings be more,

      May nothing but happiness come through your door! –

By The Way: FPI too busy talking to God

Sun, 06/08/2008 12:01 PM  |  Headlines

Christians are so close to God that they call Him “father” in prayer, while Muslims are so far away from Allah that they need loudspeakers to talk to Him.

This is an old joke, but I couldn’t tell you earlier because I was afraid. If Rizieq Shihab had found out, he might have beaten me black and blue or, worse, burned down my house.

Thank God, he is now in police custody.

If you happen to have watched the news (not the saucy gossip shows or soap operas) or read the paper recently, you would know of Rizieq, the leader of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI).

A radical group, FPI, attacked members of the National Alliance for Freedom of Faith and Religion (AKKBB), who were rallying last Sunday at the National Monument (Monas) park to mark the 63rd anniversary of Pancasila state ideology.

The FPI made their attack because the alliance supports Jamaah Ahmadiyah, a minority Islamic sect dubbed “heretical” by a government panel which also recommended it be banned.

The hardliners had earlier attacked Ahmadiyah sect members, their houses and mosques, and called Ahmadiyah a deviant sect.

The sect leader was once accused of blasphemy, but other than that I have never heard of the sect’s members committing theft, robbery, murder or any other crimes listed in the Criminal Code.

If they have their own interpretations of some verses in the Koran, it is only God who could decide whether it is right or wrong.

In 2006, FPI members vandalized the Play Boy magazine offices in South Jakarta, when the magazine first published its Indonesian version. They said the publication could damage people’s morality, but perhaps the real reason was that they were disappointed to find the Indonesian version didn’t have the same ‘hot’ pictures as its American parent.

They had also repeatedly attacked cafes, bars and nightspots during the Ramadhan fasting month because they believed the establishments violated existing regulations and would tarnish the Holy month.

And they committed all these violent acts in the name of God. Frequently FPI members shouted “Allahuakbar” (God is Great) while conducting their anarchic deeds. They also prayed a lot.

Praying five times a day is one of the five pillars of Islam followed by, not only FPI members, but all Muslims around the world.

The Muslim call to prayer, and prayer itself, can be heard in every corner of the city. It would seem it is a case of the louder, the better, so that everyone in the neighborhood can hear it. It doesn’t matter if it is still dawn or if it’s during school hours and the mosque is right next to a school. If one mosque is next to another, they may even compete to be loudest.

On Friday, mosques are crowded with congregations who enthusiastically come to pray and listen to preachers.

Non-Muslims also perform their religious rituals devoutly. Churches are always full on Sundays, when Christians and the Catholics pray and praise the Lord.

Indonesia is indeed one of the most religious nations in the world, a fact confirmed by last year’s religion monitoring study conducted in 21 countries by the German-based Bertelsmann Foundation.

Ironically, Indonesia is also notorious for being among the world’s most corrupt countries.

Being religious, corruptors must pray first before stealing state money, or perhaps they set aside a little of the corrupted money to build mosques or churches.

Another indicator of the strength of religion in Indonesia was in the huge number of people who enjoyed the recent movie Ayat-Ayat Cinta (Verses of Love), which is heavily loaded with religious messages.

President Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono who watched the blockbuster along with several cabinet ministers reportedly shed tears because he was so touched by the story. But many joked, saying he had cried because he shared the pain of not being allowed to have more than one wife like the leading role.

Anyway, following the Monas attack, many people (mostly Muslims) demanded the ban of the FPI and some even called its members preman berjubah (thugs in Muslim robes) as they wore long white robes and headscarves during the violence.

Not only FPI members, but it seems many other Muslims, Christians and other deeply religious people are often too busy talking to God in one-way conversations, praising and worshiping God, reading the Koran, the Bible and other holy books, while turning their backs on fellow human beings.

Of course, talking to God is important, but if they think praying five times a day or going to Church every Sunday, or even everyday, is enough to allow them climb the stairway to heaven, maybe they should think again.

By the way, if you find the opening of this piece offensive, please accept my apology. I don’t mean to upset anyone, let alone God, who must be sad enough seeing the violence and frequent religious conflicts within this so-called religious nation.

— T.Sima Gunawan