Wasting Long Nights in Pensive Discontent

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Good Americans these days are stockpiling duct tape and plastic sheeting to celebrate "National Preparedness Month." Yep, the infernal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its cancerous Ready.gov have hijacked splendid September with their propaganda. They expect us to "Get Prepared. Get Involved." Sorry, I’m busy. I’m savoring the cool, crisp air, the first reds and yellows among the leaves, the golden glow of slanting sunlight, cozy fires of a frosty evening — and oh, the food! Is anything more satisfying than autumn’s simmering soups and stews, its apple pies rich with cinnamon, its hearty Merlots and Shirazes?

But let’s pretend we have no life, that we’ll actually squander September pondering DHS’ "preparedness message." (Geez, I’d rather die in the next disaster than hear nouns scream as bureaucrats torture them into adjectives.) Imagine the scaredy cats a month’s musing will produce. To waste days and weeks planning for a "national emergency — including a possible terrorist attack" instills fear, hopelessness, pessimism. Life becomes a series of outsized calamities from which government alone can save us. That’s not only depressing but absurd because few of us will ever grapple with a "hazard emergency."

On the other hand, no one escapes this earth without a personal calamity. A child’s death, a shattered marriage, incurable illness, bankruptcy — these crises demand faith in God, courage, self-reliance, and resilience. Yet these are the very virtues government most wants to destroy so that we’ll follow Our Leaders.

Those leaders inflict many of our sorrows in the first place. Almost 8000 Americans have buried sons and daughters because lawless liars invaded Iraq. Another 43,000 people die every year, thanks in part to the State’s criminally negligent design and regulation of highways — to say nothing of the injured, the scarred and maimed, the —plegics quad- and para-. Over two million citizens, most of whom have never robbed, raped, nor murdered, languish in Leviathan’s prisons. One friend flourished as a manager before he fell into the government’s clutches. Last month, when the State transferred him to a different prison, ten inmates jumped him. They beat him so badly he refused a visit from his wife lest she witness this latest humiliation. She and their three daughters live with her parents after selling their home to pay legal bills. A man’s assets, job, and reputation gone, his health wrecked, his wife raising their family alone, his girls the targets of other kids’ taunts — five innocent lives destroyed over a non-crime to feed the State’s judicial and prison industries. Take no advice from government’s thugs on dealing with disasters: these hypocrites cause them.

Fine, says Leviathan. If we won’t listen, the critter will co-opt and corrupt our churches as its megaphone. Over 30 states misappropriate our taxes on a "Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives." These "offices" assault freedom, and not subtly, either. The motto for Ohio’s plagiarizes Karl Marx: "It is time to come together in common purpose, and work together for the common good."

Alabama is even more nefarious, if that’s possible. Its "Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives" has "designated" September 30, 2007 as "u2018Be Ready Sunday’ in Alabama. Faith-based organizations are encouraged to include preparedness materials in their bulletins and newsletters, post preparedness information on their websites, and speak to their congregations on the need to prepare." Let’s pray preachers speak to their congregations on the need to prepare for eternity instead of pestering them on the State’s behalf. This is yet another hellish ploy to distract the Church from its true calling, from Christ’s command to preach the Gospel. Leviathan grins demonically when lost and dying sinners are instead fobbed off with pinchbeck "preparedness" poppycock.

The "Governor’s Office, Etc." bursts with the usual quota of bureaucrats, whiling away the years to their pensions on make-work. Alabama’s Executive Director broke from shuffling papers to intone, "Religious leaders play an important role in their communities and can help spread the message about the importance of being prepared for disasters." Indeed they can. Nasty rumors still circulate about the role they played in Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath: rather than leading God’s flock in paths of righteousness, pastors took His sheep down the State’s garden path.

Alabama helpfully proffers propaganda. "Resources specifically designed for faith-based organizations can be downloaded at the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives’ website, www.ServeAlabama.gov. This site provides information on steps to develop a family disaster plan, a Church [Ahem: shouldn't that be a "Faith-Based Coherence Group"?] Disaster Preparedness Checklist, as well as a printable bulletin insert for u2018Be Ready Sunday.’" The day the State’s hogwash blasphemes bulletins is the day true Christians hunt a new and godlier church.

Ready.gov apparently took a lesson from another of the DHS’s "components," the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Just as airport screening has expanded the definition of "weapon" to include jars of salsa and safety pins, so Ready.gov stretches "disaster." Judging by the students’ essays posted on its website, "severe thunderstorms," "high winds," and "power outages" now count as disasters. Unless one is hooked to life-support equipment without a back-up generator, losing power is an inconvenience, not a disaster. Ditto for bad weather: absent a funnel cloud, high winds ruin hairstyles, but that’s about it.

Perhaps the official hysteria is backfiring, with congregations becoming wiser than serpents. "Haunted by memories of…the chaotic weeks after Hurricane Katrina," reports Beliefnet.com, "New Orleans-area churches have thoroughly retooled evacuation plans to protect themselves from the next hurricane — and in a few cases, to help get their elderly and shut-in members out of harm’s way." They’re doing it on their own, too: the article mentions not a single government agency. This is especially heartening since Beliefnet looks fondly on Leviathan. It would have dragged the beast into things if it could.

Naturally, churches far outshine government in the help they give the hurting: "The National Council of Churches estimates that church-sponsored volunteers have produced $600 billion worth of labor for the Gulf Coast. In contrast, the total amount of federal funds spent on Katrina aid as of March was $53 billion." Christians serious about serving others spurn government’s "partnership": “The government would want us to detach the [Gospel] declaration from the demonstration, and we won’t do that,” Rev. Jean Larroux, pastor of Lagniappe Presbyterian Church, told the St Louis Post-Dispatch. His congregation doesn’t sponsor volunteers nor help with rebuilding "just to be nice. If you seek to sterilize the message, you eliminate the motivation for most Christians.” In contrast, "the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster [NVOAD], an umbrella group of denominational relief agencies that works closely with the government, discourages outright evangelism during disaster response." They actually equate sharing Christ’s love with "doing harm."

A final insult comes from Michael Chertoff, the Secretary of Homeland Security. "Too many individuals remain in a state of denial when it comes to personal preparedness," he scolds in a DHS press release. "Able-bodied Americans need to be prepared to take care of themselves and their families after an emergency, so that first responders can focus on those who need assistance most." Right. Able-bodied Americans were prepared to take care of themselves and their families after Hurricane Katrina, so much so that government goons had to force them at gunpoint to leave their homes.

On second thought, you may want to spend September "getting prepared, getting involved" for that daily and most devastating of disasters: government.

Becky Akers [send her mail] writes primarily about the American Revolution.

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