Looking to the Jewish Passover to Understand American Dependency, Gun Control and Senator Rand Paul’s Filibuster
From time to time events – current, past, and those of daily life will converge to shine light on something oft neglected but in frequent need of attention – FEAR. Sen. Rand Paul’s recent filibuster enthralling millions was such an event. It was David versus Goliath and Mr. Smith goes to Washington all rolled up, reminding us that uncontrolled government is a danger to our freedom. Sen. Ryan gently stirred our fears of being bullied and feeling helpless to do anything about it.
However, not all catalysts need to be as big as Sen. Paul’s filibuster. A simple and benign act of buying Matzahs for our Passover Seder served as one last week. It caused me to reread and reconsider the Book of Exodus describing the Jews’ delivery from generations of slavery in Egypt. It surprisingly tells a story of deep imbedded fear in the Jewish people. The Exodus illuminates a fear so deep, so intense that it caused doubt and second-guessing in the Jewish People, even after witnessing miracle upon miracle, plague upon plague, bestowed on their behalf so that they might be free. The Exodus is a story of oppression on a huge scale.
What struck me most about the Exodus story is that the effects of the Jewish oppression are not so unlike the effects of oppression being experienced by millions of Americans today. Symptomatic of both is a resignation, a settling for the smallest crumbs of security, lashing out and blaming people who are trying to help, taking steps only when there are no other options, and not seeing alternatives as being worth their price.
Fear is something that alters our perceptions, defines perceived choices, keeps us safe and can ruin our lives. And when fear is coupled with chronic societal oppression (real or imagined) and dependency on government it can easily become an intergenerational obstacle to leading full lives (even for God’s chosen people).
Vivir con miedo, es como vivir a medias!
(A life lived in fear is a life half lived)
It searches for voice, understanding and clarity but mostly remains shadowed, hidden, ignored or denied. But, what FEAR needs is to be recognized, inspected and dealt with so it doesn’t lead to poor decisions, violence, submission, paralysis, or wearing blinders that prevent growth or seeing the truth.
Fear can be either paralyze or empower life – which is why it needs our focused attention.
It serves as a reflection of the human condition and our societies. It underlies most of our history. It caused Hitler’s to rise to power and caused his defeat. It has effected how our history is written, rewritten, and emphasized by those in power; and has even caused some of it to be completely erased from society’s common knowledge, moved to waste bin of history. It causes paranoia or keeps us on our toes, vigilant against the abuses of others.
In politics, it can be played or preyed upon by the unscrupulous or simply bushed aside, replaced by false certainty. Fear allows for oppressors to keep and assume power, over and over again.
Fear allows people to walk past a man, woman or child being beaten, or worse. It rationalizes disappearing within one’s self, slipping past a person being ridiculed or vilified. There’s nothing I can do. What if they turn on me?
Fear of losing employment can nudge people into looking the other way when something untoward occurs.
Fear allows bullies to thrive.
But remember, fear can also make heroes out of the ordinary man, woman, reporter, and yes – even a politician.
Sen. Paul had been attempting for months to get Obama and Eric Holder to simply and unequivocally state, commit to writing, that they recognize that they do not have the Constitutional authority to order a drone strike against an American citizen in the United States who is not engaged in combat.
Amazingly, it has been like pulling teeth for Sen. Paul with Obama and Holder dancing on the head of pin to keep from admitting anything is beyond their power. Everything cumulated Wednesday, March 6, 2013, in something America has not seen in a very long time, an honest to God filibuster that lasted nearly 13 hours. As a former criminal defense attorney, I was glued to the television for about 5 hours. Sen. Paul definitely exceeded my expectations by being excellent in both presentation (calm, collected, soft spoken but passionate) and substance (knowledge of Constitutional law, understanding of the issues and consequences). I thoroughly enjoyed it and I sincerely hope Sen. Rand Paul runs in 2016.
It took courage for Rand Paul to stand and challenge the President with his filibuster (no one else really has, not the media nor the Parties). The fear that this administration sees no limits to their power and that it believes that Americans’ freedoms and liberties come solely from government surely motivated Sen. Paul’s action. Sen. Paul’s was not a fear causing paranoia but one that required his vigilance and action. After all, Obama has a substantial record of going around Congress and the Constitution to get what he wants.
It’s not a paranoid fear of heights if you’re in a tree and watching someone chopping it down. You yell stop chopping my tree.
And how did Senators McCain and Graham react? Almost immediately after wining and dining with the President, they grabbed their megaphones and condemned Sen. Paul. They accuse him of being a grand stander, trying to fire up impressionable Libertarian kids in college dorms, being unserious, abusing Senate rules, etc. Well, I might not be as impressionable as Sen. McCain thinks college kids are, but I can recognize fear when I see it. I respect both Senators McCain and Graham (especially Graham when he’s wearing his JAG lawyer’s hat), but it’s fairly clear that they are the aging bulls in the pasture, afraid of becoming irrelevant and jealous of a new young bull sniffing around their herd.
Sen. Paul’s illustrative quotes referenced during filibuster definitely struck a nerve with me.
Madison’s quote clearly reflects the drafters of our Constitution understood human nature and had a healthy fear of it. This fear coupled with their own history (common sense), must have been a driving force urging the Founders to divide power and put in place safeguards and checks against the possibility of abuse – abuse that could easily give rise to authoritarian or tyrannical governance. They had lived it under the King; and as such, they were well studied in the hearts of men and how dark they could become. Like Sen. Paul’s fear, theirs inspired vigilance, preparation and planning.
The truth is that there is a basic desire in most of us (even those of us who own guns) to want to know that a trusted someone will be there like God, a parent, a neighbor, a pastor, the sheriff, or almost anyone when times are really hard or our neighborhood becomes increasingly unsafe.
However, if the Founders (being principled men) were here today, I would expect them to warn us to be very careful in whom we place our trust – to look first to ourselves and our families, then to our neighbors, and remember to make sure we let our guns be our constant companion. I’m positive they’d never advise giving complete trust to any government.
The very least we should do is to raise questions like Sen. Paul did. Why should we trust what your doing? Do you trust us? Your past actions indicate there might be more to what you’re doing? Are there less intrusive measures to be taken? Is this authorized by the Constitution? Will I be less free or more free tomorrow?
Trust is an especially perilous temptation when times are hard or when dangerous conditions exist because of the natural tendency to look for any connection (commonality) that we might have with those extending their hands, even something as trivial as belonging to the same Party. (Fear of being alone in hardship.) Unfortunately this is the perfect opportunity for the wolf in sheep’s clothing. I’m sure you’ve noticed that when someone makes a decision to trust, they seem to go out of their way in failing to see what’s right before their eyes that would easily prove their decision unwise.
Who was it that said never let a crisis go to waste? It was Rahm Emmanuel and this statement reminds us that we need to keep Rahm’s practice always in mind when dealing with this Administration.
Politicians in this Administration (knowing they have loyal media cover) prefer not to answer real questions; instead they opt for simply stating or implying that we need to trust them. ‘Yes we can’? Regarding drones they say trust us, we haven’t killed anyone yet – we don’t intend to, but we “might” use a drone strike on an American citizen “in extraordinary circumstances”[i] – or if there’s an imminent threat (even though imminent threats might also include not-so-imminent threats) – and by the way, we’ll decide if the 5th Amendment applies. Yes, they normally throw in a little social justice, fairness, greater-good, yes we can, we’re moving forward, do your fair share; but it’s meant to convey the message TRUST US!
If you’ve been paying attention, you must certainly know that everything we’re learning about Obama and Holder (Fast and Furious hearings and Obama claiming Executive Privilege, the Benghazi hearings and Obama being AWOL while 4 Americans are murdered, the cover-ups, the DOJ retaliating against whistleblowers, Obama’s constant exaggeration about the Sequester effects and intentionally making them worse) points to only one reasonable conclusion.
They are in fact not angels.
This was one of Sen. Paul’s major points. The Obama administration (and seemingly Senators Graham and McCain) are intent on making the whole world a battlefield, a war zone which presents the ability to suspend the protections under the Bill of Rights – such as the Fifth Amendment protecting life, liberty and property being taken without due process. This is how the government interned Japanese Americans in WWII.
Under the guise of temporary security during war, anything and everything can be justified, including the confiscation of every privately (legally) owned firearm in this country. It doesn’t matter if you are a woman, disabled, black, white, Hispanic living in a rough neighborhood and need a gun for your family’s protection. You are just SOL.
They say Americans will never need firearms to protect their freedoms in this country. Tell that to the GI’s returning home after WWII in Athens Tennessee in what came to be known as The Battle of Athens. (I’d never heard of, nor was taught about this in school. Thanks to Real News on The Blaze doing a segment about it.)
This is an interesting quote of Ben Franklin’s. It seems harsh at first glance, but it has to be to sufficiently reinforce the need to be on constant guard, constantly inspecting our fear (of losing security), deeply appreciating our of gifts of liberty – ultimately, flipping fear’s influence from submission to defiance. (It should be noted that the Founders had pledged their lives and fortunes for freedom, so it’s easy to imagine how they might feel about those who had not made such sacrifices.) Remember, history demonstrates that trading liberty to the government is nearly always a permanent surrender of those rights, especially if there’s a disarmed populace that can’t fight back.
Can there be a ‘permanent security’ that one might justify trading some or all of their fundamental liberties?
I don’t think so.
I once heard a Professor at the School for International Training counsel a young woman going to live in a Palestinian community on the Israeli border. The woman, in her early twenties was obviously scared. The Professor gave the following advice: You should not let your fear keep you from following your passion because personal safety is just an illusion. This liberal Professor was right.
Just as personal safety needs to be understood as illusion, so should a government’s guarantee of temporary or permanent security (crumbs) – and attachment to either must not keep us from protecting our liberty. As in the epoch of the Pharaohs, Obama’s government does not hold its promises sacrosanct. We were promised that there would be no death panels in Obamacare, but fast forward and we learn that the Progressive left has always understood they would limit care to the old.
Would you give up your firearms if it were a condition to receive Social Security?
Would you give up your Second Amendment rights in return for a welfare check?
Would you give up your firearms in return for the child tax credit on your income taxes?
Would farmers give up their firearms if they receive federal subsidies?
How about for a drivers license, federal employment or unemployment insurance?
Such carrots would be very powerful temptations to many struggling and middle-class Americans. The rich of course would easily be able to deal with such disempowering choices. Thankfully (if our justice system is properly functioning), the Founders memorialized our natural rights and liberties in the Constitution, and that should be the end of the discussion because such coercion would be unconstitutional. Unfortunately, there are those in both Parties (and many Judges) who see the breadth of our liberties as impediments to their goals.
These hypothetical questions (because they’re easily imaginable) illustrate why we need to support candidates who value and will fight hard for our liberty. Every person (black, white, Hispanic, Democrat, Republican, etc.) needs to get away from the Parties and focus on liberty.
Obama and the Progressive left are always choosing their words and phrases carefully. (They’ve been targeting our schools for years.) They choose words for their import, the imagery each produces, how they define the arguments – words like social justice, progressive, moving forward, the greater good, pro-choice, for the children, fair share, etc. These types of words are used as a drumbeat to imply that they are on our side, that we should trust them, they have our best interests at heart, they’ll protect us and they know better than others what’s good for us. Of course, those making arguments against their policies are vehemently portrayed as being against justice, reasonableness, protecting children, progress, government, moving towards the future, choice, etc. They use the Siren’s song of the seductive imagery to lure people into giving up their rights and liberties in exchange for a dream, something that can’t be guaranteed – personal safety and security. We have to stop falling for this cheap trick.
We all want to be free but many are afraid of freedom’s consequences and responsibilities (not quite as much dependence on centralized government). This is the crack (fear) where Obama slips his crowbar to loosen our grip on the things that really matter.
I agree with Benjamin Franklin but I also recognize that millions in our modern American family have been patiently, intentionally conditioned and oppressed (victimized) into a dependency that will take patient, understanding, reassuring voices and actions (jobs) to free them from their addictions and internalized oppression so they can hear truth more easily and live fuller lives. Case in point, a new study shows that many of the benefits Americans receive are set up in such a way that penalizes good people who want to work (or marry) but by doing so would cause them to become ineligible to continue their benefits (poverty traps).
Which brings me to shopping for Matzah at the supermarket.
In Egypt, some three thousand years ago, the Jewish people languished in servitude and enslavement by the Pharaohs. Finally, the day drew near when Moses[ii] would approach the elders of the Jewish people and tell them that God had sent him to free them from their brutal masters. Moses knew (and told God) that the Jewish people, who had been battered and beaten for generations, would doubt his words. So Moses had been provided (by a slightly annoyed God)[iii] with ‘the rod of God’ with which to do signs that would cause the people to listen and believe him. And they did – well, at least until the first bump in the road.
The doubt and reluctance of the Jewish elders shows that people who have long suffered and have been conditioned to believe they have no alternative futures are hard to reach. Even though their existence was brutal under Pharaoh, it offered just enough of the crumbs of security to keep them loath to follow Moses into the wilderness of the unknown. It’s not unlike our citizens holding tightly to the scant security provided by welfare, food stamps, and the like that keeps them shackled, deterred from exploring their own dreams.
The Jewish elders did, with trepidation, take the small step of allowing Moses and his brother, Aaron, to approach the Pharaoh to seek their freedom. Of course Pharaoh, a tyrant not accustomed to challenge, scoffed and refused Moses. In fact, as punishment, Pharaoh ordered that the people of Israel not be given straw with which to make bricks and ordered more work be laid upon his slaves. The people were beaten and the Jewish people of course blamed Moses and Aaron – not Pharaoh.[iv] So naturally, being new to the workings of God and faith, Moses questioned God’s motives.
This ‘it’s your fault we suffer’ mentality, blaming the ones trying help instead of the source of hurt is a natural reaction of those engulfed by internalized oppression. It’s something we need to keep in mind as we offer a hand up to those who have become overly dependent on government.
And God comforted Moses – “see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land”. Moses went and told the people what God had said but they didn’t listen to Moses for ‘anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage’. [v]
Again the effects of oppression and fear, they didn’t want to hear anything more from someone rocking their boat.
And so began the confrontations with power and destruction that Pharaoh could never have imagined the people of Israel had supporting them. Moses, with the rod of God turned the water of the Nile into blood, fish died, the water stank and became undrinkable, and there was blood throughout Egypt. Next came the frogs, then lice, flies, then the cattle of Egypt dying, boils, pestilence, hail with fire mingled, locusts, and three days of darkness so dense it could be felt.
Every time Moses told Pharaoh to ‘Let my people go’, but he refused. You see, God had hardened his heart.[vi] God wanted all of Egypt to see clearly who the children of Israel were being delivered by.
Only one plague remained.
The last plague would kill the every first-born in every family, even the families of the beasts throughout Egypt. Only the houses of those whose doorways were marked with the blood of a lamb were spared death (which is where we get the name Passover (Pesah), God passed over these houses without harm).
It was this final plague that broke the Pharaoh because it took his only son. The Pharaoh finally ordered Moses to take his people and go.
Over six hundred thousand men, beside the women and children of Israel, journeyed from Rameses to Succoth on foot (being led by God in a pillar of cloud by day and by night in a pillar of fire) from where they would eventually make a camp by the Sea. (Imagine 600,000 men (some 2 million counting women and children) following the dream of freedom.)
Unfortunately, this is not the end of the story – for the Pharaoh and Egyptian people had had a change of heart and came chasing after the Jews.
When the Jewish people saw that the Pharaoh and all the Chariots of Egypt had found them, one would think that after witnessing all the miracles and wonders they had seen God and Moses do, they would demonstrate some degree of confidence? Nope.
Oppression is a tough nut to crack.
They panicked, cried out to the Lord and turned on Moses telling him that it would have been better if Moses had never come to them so they could have continued to serve the Egyptians rather than be led into the wilderness to die. “Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.”
Isn’t this just priceless, and a perfect illustration of why people should never fully trust the promises of government not run by Angels. Resting one’s fate wholly on the vague promises and assurances of a narcissistic leader is a bad idea everywhere. Fortunately for the Jews, they had God. Fortunately for you and I, the Constitution provides us with an enforcement provision that we all pray will never be needed, the Second Amendment.
This is where Moses took the Rod of God and divided the sea so that the people of Israel could walk to freedom. With no other options available, the Jewish people overcame their terror and walked on the sea floor towards freedom on the other side. With hardened hearts, the Egyptians raced after them. When the Egyptians were past the water’s edge, God caused the wheels to come off the chariots and Moses, at God direction, caused the water to collapse on them behind the Jewish people.
And so the Jewish people became free by taking control of their own futures with their first steps into the divided sea.
And rest assured, it will likely take just as many acts and reassurances to demonstrate to Americans trapped in their oppression that a better future is ahead of them if they take control and reclaim their independence and personal responsibility.
Do you think these 600,000 Jewish men would have been so fearful if they had carried AR-15 semi-automatic rifles and a few thousand of Joe Biden’s shotguns?
Are you pointing that sword at me šaabb (young man)?
[i] Op-Ed: Was Rand Paul being ‘ridiculous’ about drones, as McCain said? No This article made an important point that the police have already blurred the line between domestic murder and terrorism in the case of LAPD Office Dorner. “Dorner wound up dying in a cabin into which police say they fired “pyrotechnic tear gas” cannisters. How far in the future are drone attacks for the ostensible prevention of “future crime?””
[ii]Moses was a Jew, who as a baby had been saved and raised by the Pharaoh’s own sister from an order that Egyptians drown every male Jewish newborn to keep their numbers manageable.
[iii] Exodus: 14 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.
[iv] Exodus: 20 And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh:21 And they said unto them, The LORD look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us.