Principles and Damned Principles

A few days ago a friend of mine posted the following cartoon:

Below the cartoon was this text:

Rush Limbaugh recently told his audience that president Barack Obama was sending US troops to Uganda to kill Christians. Yes, he did.

Now, my initial response was a rolling of the eyes and a sigh for two reasons. One, I’ve listened to Rush Limbaugh in the past enough to know that well over half of what the man says is grossly misreported in the media and on more liberal websites (yes, I do read them). That doesn’t mean I endorse what the man says. I’m just bearing witness to the half-truths. The second reason for my reaction was that this is a woman who I respect. I lean conservative. She leans liberal. We both love our families. We both love to write. We encourage each other in both. In short, we try to focus on the things that unite instead of those that have the potential to divide. Would that more people could try this.

When discussing positions that people hold strongly I have a general rule that I go by. You may or may not agree with me, but it has developed over years of thought and experience. It is simply this: the minute you begin your argument with or include the phrase “I feel that…” you’ve lost me. Years of experience has taught me that debating someone who bases their beliefs on feelings is a fruitless exercise. It can also be maddening because feelings can sift like the sand. I’ve debated topics with “feelings” people before and in the course of a half hour watched them twist themselves in knots because during the course of the conversation the sand sifts. Their feelings change because of other feelings and they attempt to grasp at their position while it falls between their fingers and out of their grasp. At this point I’m watching someone have an argument with themselves and, feeling like the third wheel, I disengage. I’m not unsympathetic. I’ve been there. I’ve also gone on record as saying that I’m open to listen to a cogent, intelligent argument or position based on things outside of feelings because I’m mature enough to admit that my position on something may not be absolute. It can change and in the past has changed by listening to others. One example: the death penalty. Up until a few years ago I was very much in favor of the death penalty, but as my faith matured and I saw how my strong pro-life position was contrary to the death penalty, my position began to change.

(Lest you are reading this and think me a cold, unfeeling bastard I should note here that I am NOT against feelings. They can be good, are necessary and are healthy. I’m against using them as a weapon to club someone with when having a serious position debate.)

When you are in the midst of changing your position on a subject it can be a very disorienting and confusing time. This is when you must be patient with people. It’s scary for them. It was scary for me. I think that’s why a lot of people avoid thinking about an issue and instead rely upon their feelings or regurgitate talking points that they’ve been spoon-fed because it helps them avoid this scary notion of having to think about or possibly change a position they’ve emotionally invested in. In short: they have fear.

This brings me back to what Rush Limbaugh was reported to have said about the situation in Uganda. It’s true that our president has once again sent troops/advisors somewhere in the world. As a conservative it does seem awfully hypocritical to me that the anti-war Cindy Sheehan loving lefties of the world do not seem to bat an eye at Obama’s actions when they still want former President Bush tried for war crimes. I’m not going to get into a relativist argument here regarding both men. I’m just making an observation. Getting back to Limbaugh’s reported statement for a moment. I emphasize reported because I’ve seen my friend or her friends post things stating as fact things that were reportedly said, but which were not. Sometimes I’ve held my breath and my tongue, sometimes I don’t. When I saw her post this cartoon the other day I held my tongue, mostly because I respect her and as such do not feel it’s my job to police everyone’s opinion. But, in this case, I held my tongue because I wanted to check this one out for myself. I had heard Limbaugh say what he said and had that confirmed by others. I had also been following the Uganda situation enough to know that I questioned what Rush said.

I agree 100% with the cartoon Stacye posted. Both the cartoon and the sentiments behind it and its caption.

This madman in Uganda, Joseph Kony, claims to have channeled the spirit of one of Idi Amin’s generals. He leads what he calls the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA has been designated a terrorist organization under the Patriot Act. Kony claims himself a “Christian missionary.” However, the Hudson Institute reports that

He preys on civilian villages, which his army loots for provisions, and where they hack to death and shoot the adults, and abduct the children. One of his main strategies has been to cleanse the land of adults, whom he deems untrustworthy, and start a new society with children. Reportedly, more than 85 percent of LRA captives are children, most between the ages of 11 and 16. Young males are indoctrinated and trained for combat, and girls are used as sex slaves and beasts of burden for Kony and his commanders.

Estimates of the numbers of children abducted range between over 30,000, according to the UN, and 66,000 in Uganda alone, according to the Survey for War Affected Children. Millions of people have fled the LRA into refugee camps, which are also sometimes raided. Over two million Ugandans have had to flee their homes, in addition to the 400,000 currently displaced in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. UNICEF reported that over the years thousands of children became “night dwellers,” walking five miles or more each night to seek shelter in urban centers.

The deeply traumatized thousands of children who have escaped enslavement tell of witnessing, or even being forced to participate in, the clubbing to death of their mothers and fathers. Mothers who have been raped witness the bayoneting of their infants. The captives are forced to torture and kill other children caught trying to escape. Always on the move with the LRA leaders in the jungles and swamps of central Africa, they suffer repeated rape, beatings, and deprivation of every kind.

The LRA has reportedly caused as many as 200,000 deaths, most from disease and malnutrition but increasingly resulting from violent attacks on villagers. Human rights reports state that the LRA killed over 2,000 in the past year in such attacks. In the Haute Uele district of the DRC, 865 people were killed by the LRA from December 24, 2008 — when 50 Catholic villagers were killed at a Christmas Mass — to January 17, 2009.

My friend and her friends are right to call out Rush for his hyperbole in trying to score cheap political points and I join them in doing so. This is as dishonest (and yes, ignorant) as anything I’ve read at The Huffington Post or the Daily Kos. The “right” does it as well as the “left.” It’s as annoying as the constant appeals from Republican politicians wanting money so they can “fight” Planned Parenthood. I wish I believed them, but I learned a long time ago not to put my faith in a politician or a political party. I stand on the rock of Jesus Christ and His Church that in all things points me towards Him.

At each Mass I recite the Nicine Creed by saying “I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of Heaven and earth…” We don’t say “I feel that there’s one God…” See the difference? (For a better explanation of the differences between “I think” and “I feel”, read what my friend Jon wrote on the subject here.)

This man Kony is not a Christian man leading an army of Christians. He is an abomination. The Hudson Institute article says that some in the media insist on calling Kony a Christian, and in this I have little doubt. The secular media is no friend to Christians and often bends over backwards to paint them in a negative light. Doing so here fits their narrative. Kony’s rituals include elements of Christianity (I’d love to know what they consider those elements to be), Islam, and black magic.

He boasts that he cuts off the lips, ears, noses and breasts of those who refuse to acknowledge him as a divine leader. He also amputates the feet of those who ride bicycles, and punishes those who eat white feathered chickens.

See? If I “felt” that the death penalty was wrong I would now change my position and make an exception for this piece of filth.

$%&@!-ing principles.


Addendum: Here is the transcript of Limbaugh’s remarks. He does in fact say what the cartoon text reports him to say. However, in fairness I must point out the final paragraph of the transcript. After a commercial break Limbaugh’s staff reports to him that the LRA is being accused of “really bad stuff.” He states as much and promises to do due diligence and research it further.


2 thoughts on “Principles and Damned Principles

  1. Wow! An intelligent and even essay. Yes, I call it an essay. By only reading this, I find your ideas to be on the minority. Sadly, too many people allow their “feelings” to drive not only their beliefs but actions.
    I’ll shall be reading a few more of your writings and not for my own belief comfort. I think you’ll will provide me with new viewpoints or at the least have me question myself. This is what I look for in a blog.
    I never really thought about your comment on the Nicene Creed. My thoughts are on a larger scope when reciting it or thinking about it.


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