Apathy of Biblical Proportions
By Monica Benderman
HINESVILLE, GEORGIA, January 27, 2006–Across the country men and women have been jailed, not for committing a crime, but rather for making a conscious choice to live by their moral principles adhering to the laws of a higher authority. They are jailed because those who believe themselves to be in positions of authority are frightened by the truth of their stand and the strength of their convictions.
Who are these people of “authority”? They are people who have been elected to serve the citizens of our country; elected because campaign promises led us to believe they understood what the people wanted; promises, which, upon election, were accentuated by an oath of office in which they swore to uphold the law. They are not the authority; they are the people from among us chosen to follow the consensus of the people. They are people who seem to have forgotten who wrote the Law.
Some people write and say we must “submit to authority” and many argue that we must respect authority when authority tells us what to do. Depending upon the times, laws are enacted often according to who has the most influence in sending out “the message.” For instance: There was a time in which no one thought twice about smoking cigarettes and whether or not they were detrimental to one’s health. Once scientific investigations pointed out the harmful effects of smoking, the cigarette manufacturers were required by law to put warning signs on the packages and an age limitation was established to prevent children from being able to buy a pack of cigarettes. There are now NO SMOKING rules in effect for most restaurants and many public places. However, the public can still smoke in their homes whether it is cigarettes or cigars. People are still permitted to buy cigar humidors for their cigars either online or a land based stores. People can still buy cigarettes and cigars for their personal use. What if the scenario abruptly changed and no smoking of either cigarettes or cigars were allowed or vice versa where anyone could smoke, anytime and anywhere?
What happens when smoking causes such debilitating diseases such as any number of different cancers, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, or damage to the heart or blood circulation issues such as cerebrovascular disease. According to the Federal government’s Social Security Disability website: “Social Security pays benefits to people who cannot work because they have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. “ If you develop a disease because of smoking are you eligible for SSD? Perhaps you should discuss your situation with a social security disability lawyer. Successfully obtaining social security disability benefits is very difficult, particularly when a person is unfamiliar with the law, the process, as well as being ill. Since social security disability lawyers are paid on a contingency basis, you do not have to put out any initial money for their services. A social security disability attorney will do all the necessary paperwork and filings as they guide and advise you on every step of the process. If you have already applied for social security disability and been rejected they will know how to schedule and expedite a disability hearing, as well as prepare you for the questions that will be asked. Of course, in the long run it would be better to not smoke in the first place.
The laws regarding smoking were enacted by those we elected. What happens when a handful of our representatives are persuaded by wealthy individuals who would ultimately profit by a change in the laws. You can be sure that the tobacco industry pushed very hard to have the current smoking laws be less restrictive than some would have liked. And although the pendulum has swung to the left, there is no reason to believe it can’t swing back to the right. So the question remains: Who is the authority of which they speak? If they are referring to those currently in positions within our administration, what made them the authority? Until we, the people, elected them to their position, they were no different than us. Unfortunately, in many cases “we, the people” were manipulated by very heavily monied special interest groups that were able to sway the majority of voters with their own agendas.
Another example: Let’s look at the laws that pertain to car accidents. It’s no secret that Insurance companies and their legal teams are well versed on how to minimize settlements claims when there are bodily injuries. It’s gotten to the point were victims of a car accident are at a decided disadvantage if they attempt to challenge an insurance company without a car accident lawyer at their side. Then there are state laws that state that by not reporting a car accident in a timely manner could limit your ability to collect compensation for injuries and other damages. And if you live in a no-fault state, you are not even able to sue the other driver unless your accident-related expenses are above a certain amount.
Why do we believe that we give people who live, eat and breathe as we do authority over us – when we have simply given them an office from which to carry out the work given to them by “we” the people. Wouldn’t that give us as much authority as those who have been given the position by which to keep our country steered in the right direction? Isn’t it simply a matter of using our authority to make the system of government we have in place work for us? Not necessarily so. Special interest groups have much greater influence than most people are aware.
There is ONE authority, and it speaks, well tries to speak to all of us. Some of us have chosen not to listen, while others have chosen to allow themselves to be led to believe they are not able to hear its voice without an interpreter. We all can hear the voice, if we are human. It comes to everyone of us – it is CONSCIENCE.
When did we, the people, reach the point that we needed someone to tell us right from wrong? We didn’t elect people to office to tell us the difference between the two. We elected them because they claimed to understand the difference and took an oath to keep this country moving in a direction far away from wrong. They have simply been given a position in a government designed to keep the country organized, not to keep the people from having a voice.
Now we are being tested. Some have risen to the test and have faced the challenge. Men like Sgt. Kevin Benderman saw wrong in the direction this country was being led, listened to HIS conscience, and refused to be part of what moved us further in that direction. For daring to listen to true authority, he was imprisoned. In a country where those in our administration had sworn to uphold the right to freedom and steer this country with integrity, Sgt. Benderman is imprisoned for demonstrating integrity and declaring his right to freely choose to follow his conscience.
Many are facing the same choice Sgt. Benderman had to make. Many are choosing the path he has chosen – to listen to their conscience when they know that the direction they have been steered is wrong. They too suffer injustice. They too have taken a lonely path for while many give voice to their support of a principled stand, most simply avoid controversy and watch from the sidelines as those who believe they have authority try to imprison the truth to avoid facing their own fears.
A long time ago a man was crucified for daring to challenge those who believed they had authority.
What was God thinking as He watched a man whose followers claimed was His son being beaten, persecuted and nailed to a cross? What was His hope for this man who had traveled the countryside teaching God’s word in the actions of his life? This man had many followers who professed to believe in his words, and who wrote of the glory of his actions. This man had disciples who claimed him to be a hero – the man with the courage and patient wisdom that they lacked. He believed them when they said they understood. Their actions proved differently as they simply watched while corrupt men in positions of “authority” destroyed the truth to avoid facing their own fears.What was the lesson taught that these followers never learned?
How would our world be different if those who professed true love for this man, and true respect for how he had chosen to live, had grabbed the whips from those who beat him rather than stand silently watching, praying for God to save him?
How would we live today if those who claimed to have learned what this man lived to teach, had picked him up and carried him away rather than offering to pick up the cross and carry it for him when it became too heavy?
What makes people believe that God wanted the followers of this man to simply stand beneath the cross and watch him die rather than tearing it down, daring to give him the water those who abused him refused to offer?
What if the followers of this man had respected his life and the way he lived it to the same degree that they chose to glorify his death – so much so that they fought to keep him alive rather than watch him die, and gave him life to teach his lessons for 33 more years?
What if his followers saw him as a man of simple means yet strong in moral courage, someone they could emulate, rather than a deity placed high on a pedestal so as to have an excuse for never having to try to be what he had been?
This man wasn’t the authority. This man was the teacher. We have had many teachers over thousands of years and they have spoken to us with many different voices. When will we hear? We will hear when we realize there is only one authority, and it speaks to all of us – it comes to us in the voice we can recognize, in the way we alone will understand – Conscience.
When will we listen to our voice of conscience rather than the voices of strangers who have never walked in our shoes telling us to wait in apathetic silence while we watch the truth being imprisoned and beaten by those who wish it would simply go away?
I don’t care to ask, “What would Jesus do?” He’s not here.
What will YOU do, in his place?
Monica Benderman is the wife of Sgt. Kevin Benderman, currently serving a 15 month sentence at the Ft. Lewis RCF for daring to speak the truth, angering his command to the point that they fabricated a case against him rather than authorize his Conscientious Objector claim.