By chance I sat with a woman at lunch. We were both attending an educational conference. I remembered her because she was attending the conference from a distant African location, Zimbabwe. This was the main reason that I took notice of her. Many years later, when I was much more into world events, I noticed her at another educational conference. This was not particularly surprising. People and educational institutions tend to patronize the same vendors/providers from time to time. I have seen the same attendees at many different conferences over the years.
This time, however, I took the opportunity to introduce myself and sit with her at lunch again. I quizzed her on Zimbabwe. She explained that she was an American citizen teaching in Zimbabwe, on some sort of humanitarian mission. I learned how difficult it was for her to attend these conferences. They were rationed, not unlike they are in the U.S. (nobody likes paying for shit), but the amount of bureaucratic red tape she had to cut through was taxing. I also learned that her emails were monitored by the government. She explained how recipients in other countries would receive partial messages. Sometimes parts of her emails were removed or edited. She also explained that internet access was not only limited in terms of availability, but also that she could reach only those sites deemed acceptable by the regime. I sat through the lunch hour and beyond spellbound, asking questions and listening intently to her responses.
Today therefore, when I learned that the dictator of Zimbabwe was negotiating with the military of Zimbabwe because his grip of power had loosened, I rejoiced, sort of… I am painfully aware that one dictator often precedes another. Therefore, I felt that I should speak up. I don’t know if it will accomplish anything. After all, at least this woman actually did something about her beliefs–she went there and served the people. I have a tremendous respect for that. This woman taught me a lot in a few hours. Many Americans think they have nothing to fear. As America reaches further into our private lives with airport screening, wiretapping, and email monitoring (and all of this in the name of safety and security), people often say, “I have nothing to hide.” Well, I agree. You have nothing to hide. You wouldn’t even smuggle a thought through a bridge poll, you dumb shits.
Later, I had the distinct privilege of visiting the great country of Japan. On one occasion, I went to dinner with an American acquaintance who was there on business. Much to my delight, I found myself in company with a group of Japanese business people who were associates of my American friend. True to form, much like I had done around the lunch table with this woman from Zimbabwe, I took the opportunity to quiz the group about the Emperor of Japan. You see, I had recently visited a major Japanese temple where, among other things, I was shocked to read the many account which memorialized the kamikaze pilots and other World War II fighters who swore absolute allegiance to the emperor. I read numerous letters from young men to their families bidding them farewell and explaining that their love for the emperor superseded their love for life. The current emperor was the son of the World War II emperor and I was curious to know how much, if any, of that sentiment still prevailed. The group suddenly fell silent. The ranking businessman explained that they were very happy with the Emperor, and everyone looked away. I understood very quickly that that was not the venue for such a discussion. This surprised me, because in the U.S. we are very free to criticize the president and in any group of six people or so, there would always be someone who would go ballistic.
I learned from a friend that his experience in Thailand was similar to mine. After my dinner conversation in Japan, this was not particularly surprising. Walk into any Thai restaurant and pictures of the King are more plentiful than pictures of Jesus in a cathedral. Furthermore, I was recently doing business with a woman from Venezuela. Venezuela was holding elections and the country was in turmoil. I didn’t overthink it too much. Actually, it brought my mind back to America and the numerous riots following the election of Trump, hahaha. I envisioned the Venezuelan rioters as a bunch of fit-throwing babies such as those here in the U.S. Well, in the normal course of our correspondence about the project, I expressed my concern for her safety. This woman was usually quite conscientious about responding to my questions and comments. The shocker that I received was that her response hardly acknowledged my concern. It brought me immediately back to Zimbabwe and government censored emails. It seemed so uncharacteristic of her, so I had to assume that it was her fear of expressing anything government related.
Well, as you may know, I live in a religiously dominated community. Yes, right here in the midst of the free world. How? Good question. I was born here, just like my Japanese and Venezuelan friends. I despise religion with a vengeance which may only be matched by my great love for God. If that seems odd, then you should learn of the difference between God and religion. Where I come from, it’s not uncommon at all to see people huddled in a corner, looking over their shoulders, and speaking in hushed tones, or cutting themselves off and looking away when certain topics arise. Hell, it’s like hell. We may as well move to Zimbabwe. It’s reminiscent of the dictatorship mentality, or as we like to call it, the one-man doctrine. When we go to church and listen to a real rip-roaring sermon, half of the congregation is hoping that the speaker is not referring to them. The other half is hoping that no one realizes that the speaker is really referring to them. Some of us don’t care. Dictators like to talk. Whoever you are, you’re not the LORD. Speaking of the LORD, there is only one one-man. He causes his sun to rise on the just and the unjust. He doesn’t edit your emails and he doesn’t shut you down if you say bad little things about him. He is the King of Grace.
Author of JACK
Image taken from here.