My Two Cents--Did You Exercise Your Voting Muscle?Written by Matt McGovern
Whether or not you are pleased with results of 2004 election, season of high intensity politicking has mercifully come and gone . . . for now.
This election day, tens of millions of Americans exercised their voting muscle--more than 120 million by some estimates, or 60-percent of eligible voters--and that's encouraging.
Kudos to you if you can count yourself a member of this group!
Still other tens of millions of Americans did not vote--many of them between ages of 18 and 30, same people who one day will become future leaders for our country--and that's most disappointing.
It's clear that many Americans take their right to vote for granted, or simply don't care. They have become complacent, reciting all-too-familiar, "My one vote won't make a difference." But tell that to Al Gore who, had 537 voters in Florida not turned out and voted for George W. Bush in 2000, would most likely have been this year's incumbent.
Luckily, not all of sons and daughters of previous American generations took right to vote for granted. Many fought and some even died to secure our ability to hold "free" elections. Starting in Revolutionary times, through Civil War and scandals and corruption of mid- to late-19th century, through World Wars, and into present day, Americans have waged an ongoing battle to ensure that our system of voting and elections endures. They fought so women could vote; they fought so that all Americans, regardless of race, gender, or political leaning could vote. They won . . . and we and entire world are their beneficiaries.
When we take time out of our otherwise busy lives to stop by our local polling places, we not only exercise our right--our duty--to vote, we also honor sacrifices of these past generations.
I just don't buy refrain, "I'm too busy to vote." No one is too busy to vote--not with absentee ballots and relative speed and efficiency of modern voting. It took my wife and me all of 25 minutes to vote: 10 minutes to polling place, five minutes to vote, and 10 minutes back. That's not too much of a time commitment, not too much to ask to ensure that our system thrives and our way of life continues.
Of Snakes and TerrorismWritten by Maureen Metcalf
With passing of Arafat, Middle East will take on a slightly different face, allowing possibilities for prophetic fulfillment to speed up. The pathway is now open for renewed efforts to procure peace in Middle East, using avenue of formation of promised Palestinian State. But this window of opportunity may not remain open for long. Indeed pressure is now mounting from United States, encouraged by Britian, to get on with steps necessary to implement terms of "Road Map." January 9, 2005 has already been scheduled for Palestinian elections. The emerging line-up of candidates all have questionable backgrounds harking back to their various roles during Arafat era. It goes without saying, achievement of Palestinian goals will be a power struggle fanned by more radical insurgents and hard-liner Islamic regimes. Hamas has already stated it is planning to increase pressure on Israel by escalating their terrorist activity in Gaza and West Bank, whereas Islamic Jihad, Fatah, and Al Aksa Brigade ( now being referred to as Arafat Brigade) have issued statements they are planning to halt all atrocities until election is over. And, while Egypt and many other Arab League countries applauded Arafat's apparent achievements on behalf of Palestinians, Kuwait is appalled that anyone would be so short-sighted as to give any honor to an avowed terrorist murderer. So, Arab world has many issues to address, if they are to appear to mount a united front against West But, will sane, cool heads prevail? Will Israel use this opportunity to take decisive steps to maintain hold on her Covenant Land, or will she instead doggedly continue down destructive path Sharon is still insisting upon? Israel has option of being strong in face of her enemies, or giving in to international negative pressures. To illustrate trap Israel is in danger of falling into, I would like to share a letter I wrote to Ruth Matar of Women in Green, in anticipation of Arafat's demise. REJOICE, BUT DO NOT CELEBRATE! Dear Ruth, We cannot, and we definitely ought not to bring ourselves to grieve over Arafat's death. He was a terrorist -- a heartless butcher!! He was not just a criminal murderer. He went far beyond criminal to being an avowed monster! Even Muslim regimes, (Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia,) ousted him from their countries because he was too evil to be allowed to remain within their jurisdictions! Even so, we must not seek vengeance, because that is not within our mandate. In Day of Judgment L_RD will avenge. While a man is alive, there is hope for repentance, but once he has passed beyond this earthly realm, his fate is sealed, and G_d will deal with him in due time. What is most amazing is fact that Arafat, with his impassioned intent on annihilating Israel, was allowed to enter, let alone dwell within Israel's borders! What was Israel's premise? It is best to have your enemy where you can keep an eye on him? Great idea, but it obviously did not work overly well! Instead, he was a deadly snake in Israel's fields!! But unlike reptile version which does not strike unless threatened, he actively, and with demonic glee, coiled against his innocent victims, effectively plotting to strike with deadly venom. And, as if that was not bad enough, his subversiveness, ideology, and methodology, was perpetuated by training and grooming slithery terrorist bands to multiply his evil schemes. So yes, we must in all honesty rejoice that such an one has been silenced. But Arafat was at least one venomous snake that was positively identified, and even caged for a time in Ramalla. What is more dangerous now, and deadly, is his serpentine ''offspring." Although he is now not just defanged, but out of picture, we must not let down our guard for even an instant. His larger than life persona, and legacy, will with misguided religious fervor, fan fires of Islamic radical terrorism. We cannot allow ourselves glee of celebration! If only it was a simple matter to free this world of evil by demise of one man! Unfortunately, evil does remain. Evil breeds more evil, and legacy of evil is multiplied evil. We cannot allow ourselves luxury of uttering one sigh of relief, lest while we celebrate with even a hint of distracted abandon, multiplied evil slithers in to destroy. If only likes of Arafat were simply an isolated anomaly! We must count on fact that evil loves company, and when an ideology is invoked, one who is behind stated mission will make certain his goals are perpetuated until accomplished by those following in his wake. Arafat obviously applied this premise, but not in usual manner. He did not groom a successor. In not making certain there was an