Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Sustaining Faith

At Politics Central, Richard Fernandez, more widely know as Wretchard of The Belmont Club, warns those in the West who would still look for courage in the face “the horde of Basiji:”

What Deity, race or tribe might we still raise against the horde of Basiji?

My own guess is that neither Israel nor the West at large can long resist radical Islam without some sustaining faith of its own, a faith it will not find unless it makes up its mind to look for it. Men will fight on for as long as there is something left to fight for and not otherwise. Despair comes when we are finally convinced that even our hopes are futile. Winston Smith’s final question in 1984’s Room 101 after having despaired of the existence of God was to ask after the possibility of freedom: the existence of the Brotherhood, the only resistance to Big Brother.

(Winston)”Does the Brotherhood exist?”

(O’Brien) “That, Winston, you will never know. If we choose to set you free when we have finished with you, and if you live to be ninety years old, still you will never learn whether the answer to that question is Yes or No. As long as you live it will be an unsolved riddle in your mind.”

That is the weakness of reason, Winston Smith’s weakness: to stop when there is no reason to continue. And that is the power of faith: to go on without the answers, but to go on.

As Fernandez suggests, we will need to find a “sustaining faith.”

A steely determination surely fortified that faith of the Basij that allowed Iran’s current President to drape the necks of children with dollar store trinkets, and march them off into minefields. Can we match our enemies in resolve, if not in sheer brutality?

We look into the face of pure evil, as we have before. What will we see this time? Where will be our resolve? From whence will come our hope of deliverance?

It will always be extremely hard to argue with those gentler souls among us, who would never rise to the challenge of the oppressor, or tyrant, or murderer. We can appreciate their natural reluctance in the face of threat. But we must not tolerate their interference in those actions necessitated to ensure our very survival.

I heard a couple of stories recently from a couple of our veterans. A Marine sniper, undergoing treatment for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) describes having to take down a woman with an AK47 engaging his fellow Marines. Snipers, I am told, are taught not to look their targets in the eyes. He didn’t, but he couldn’t shoot between them, either. A well-aimed shot at one arm, hoping she would stay down, drop the weapon. She didn’t. A shot in the other arm, and then a leg, same reaction both times, up and threatening. Only then did the Marine place one in what he knows should have been his initial target, and she was taken out. All the while working against what he felt inside, “no women or children.”

Another Marine remembers the boy coming at them with a grenade. He knows the boy may have been forced, to protect his family, or promised some eternal reward, or even temporal approval or encouragement. Slam dunk, ROE-wise, and poof, he’s blown away.

They both have nightmares where loved ones take the place of the terminus of their torment. Another observes, “When you were in the fight, you did what you had to do, you saw it as a soldier, it was alright. Now, you remember it as a husband, a father, a civilian, and you war within yourself, against what you ‘know’ is right.”

The men and women of our military are among the finest our Nation can produce. They go to war, “with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right,” to quote Lincoln’s Second Inaugural.

With such resolve, many have faced the threat. We have seen the carnage from many hard and brutal fights, not all of them, unfortunately, political. Some have seen first hand the worst havoc that humanity can wreak.

Every man and woman in the fight must find their own sources for inner and outer strength. We need as a society to come alongside, nurture, sustain, encourage, and comfort them in their afflictions on our behalf.

But we need to do something more, as well. We need to find that sustaining faith in our own foundations, our principles, and the bedrock faith in the great experiment in Democracy that is America, and take a stand. That the civilization we lead, the values and principles our very existence embodies, is worth whatever price, whatever cost, whatever sorrow there may be in fighting against those who would destroy us.

(Via Instapundit)

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