Views on politics and current events

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Random Thoughts On The Prophet Amos

For a long time I’ve been reading the book of the prophet Amos in the OT . Amos is my favorite prophet, probably because his message of justice resonates so deeply within me. The language of Amos not only tells it like it was in ancient Israel and Judah, but for our times too. Sometimes the best way for me to really ‘get’ something is to go ‘whole hog’. Read it, reflect on it, read other commentary about it. So that’s what I’m doing this summer with Amos. And here’s a tidbit of commentary that ‘lifted the veil’ from my eyes, so to speak. The commentary refers to Amos 6:12-14 and I quote from The New Interpreter’s Bible:

“At the center of this passage lies the issue of wishful thinking. Amos speaks of people who put their trust in a strong military force, thinking prosperity (for themselves) is assured as long as their borderers are secure. As long as the enemy can be located outside their borders, the remedy is simple: Keep the army strong, and enjoy life at home. The sickness within can be ignored as long as the parties can continue. But for Amos, the measure of the health, the continuing viability of a nation, is justice, and he has seen it turned to poison. There is no “quick fix” for the internal problems of a society that has turned against itself, but in every generation wishful thinking turns to force as its quick fix. The realism of Amos recognized that force will not solve the problems created by the failure to maintain justice for all, but are there not still more wishful thinkers than realists in the world? In the past, extremely severe penalties for stealing did not stop the hungry from stealing when they saw no other way to stay alive. In the present, more police on the streets and mandatory or longer sentences may seem to be a quick and straightforward way to make communities safer, and indeed, they may have some useful effect. If people in those communities are hungry and hopeless however, there will still be no peace in the land.”

And so it goes, in the time of Amos and in our time. Without justice for all, there will never be peace in the land. Peace and security cannot be brought about by force, only by justice. That so many people are concerned for their own personal ‘justice’ at the expense of others underlines the greed, the self-serving, the exclusivity of the Teaparty and other ultra-conservative political advocates as well as the holier than thou religious. And as for some of the so-called liberals, is it possible that they are doing more harm than good? Is it possible that some of the so-called peace advocates are also doing more harm than good? If justice is not served equally for all, despite economic, social or racial status, how will the world ever find peace? How can The United States presume to be the leader of the free world when questions of national security and blood redemption lead to the invasion of a foreign sovereign nation and the assassination of a ‘foe’? Is that justice, and is that how we as a nation want to serve justice? I wonder, when will the ‘Babylonian Captivity’ of America happen? Or has it already begun?

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