J Walking

Evangelical leader John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute (that once represented Paula Jones) is one of the Christian leaders who stood up after the election and warned that Christian political involvement was compromising the name of Jesus.

Now he is trying to get America’s attention about Afghanistan. He has written a tough piece about America’s indifference to abject poverty and suffering in that country that is in the midst of a two-year drought, has one of the worst living standards in the world, and is seeing parents sell their children into slavery to pay for food.

The Bush Administration wants Congress to approve $10.6 billion for security and reconstruction in Afghanistan, but here’s the problem: we already have a pretty good idea of how that money is going to be spent. As recent reports indicate—and based on the U.S. government’s track record thus far, most of the funds will go toward contractors and private companies that will make a killing on the contracts and have very little to show for it in the end.

…The plight of the Afghan people can be summed up in one word: desperation. As desperate as they are for food, safety and lives not ravaged by war and poverty, it’s little wonder that Afghanistan remains a breeding ground for terrorists and terrorist activities. But democracy starts at the kitchen table. In other words, you won’t get people to start thinking with their heads, politically or otherwise, until you can get them to stop thinking with their stomachs.

The United States has the wherewithal to do something about these problems—and not just by throwing money around. Thus far, the total cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan amounts to roughly $400 billion. Just the war in Iraq is costing American taxpayers a whopping $8 billion a month. Clearly, siphoning more money over to build more roads, as President Bush has proposed, will not fix the problem.

So what’s the answer? For one, we need to start thinking along more humanitarian lines instead of plotting ways to fatten the pocketbooks of military contractors. Why not assign more of the occupying American troops to humanitarian relief and send them into villages to distribute needed food, clothing and medical relief? Why not send over some agricultural experts to help the farmers develop sustainable crops?

Europeans who travel to this country invariably tell me that America is known as the greatest Christian nation in the world. Central to the teachings of Jesus Christ was compassion for the poor and the destitute. It’s high time that America started acting like the Christian country others believe it to be. This means that we must begin showing compassion because, if ever there has been a country that needs compassion, it’s Afghanistan.

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