More From Alder's Ledge

September 30, 2013

Bleed Black

The Soulless, The Coward
(The Lost Souls series)

Alder's Ledge supports the religious rights of all groups and peoples. We believe that it is the right of every individual regardless of where they live or what they believe to exercise their religious beliefs freely and openly. It is for that reason we have decided to highlight the most depraved of individuals that would attempt to undermine this freedom for others while pushing their own religious beliefs in such a distasteful and hostile manner. In coming portion of this series we will highlight discrimination against Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Jews, and even Atheists (whom we believe have the same rights to not be religious as those who decided to practice a faith of their own).

It took an anti-Semitic Muslim twit to introduce me to the most obnoxiously hateful bastard this blog has had the opportunity to research. This certifiable lunatic not only looks like a rabid ideologue wearing a throwback costume to the Knights Templar, but has views not so far off from those espoused in Europe's dark ages. The only difference here is that during those ages the rise of Islam took some of the heat off Judaism as Christendom suddenly found a new competitor to bash their weapons against. Now however, the radical fringe of Islam finds it entertaining to push the radical views of cowards like "Brother Nathanael" and his mildly entertaining "foundation".

In our modern age of so called enlightenment this combination of religious fervency and blind hatred is troubling to say the least. In rambling speeches and YouTube videos the fanatical Nathanael manages to collectively blame Judaism (as a singular entity) for everything from the Sandy Hook school shooting to Boston Marathon bombing. Of course these are just two examples of this sick individual hitching his cart to tragedies so as to profiteer off innocent blood. In other examples of his blind hatred for Jews and Judaism Nathanael goes as far as to accuse every Jew for their part in allegedly "stealing Christmas". Proving that there truly is no depth to which perverse ideologues like this man willing to sink to manipulate the opinions of others.

Stopping Short Of Pogroms 

For the most part Nathanael manages to stop his ranting just short of telling the viewer to go grab a gun and shoot up the local synagogue. In most of his ramblings the main threats come from pushing for legal oppression of Judaism in an attempt to force Americans to accept the United States as a "Christian nation again". *Note that Nathanael attaches the word again so as to emphasize his point that America was at some point a religious state dominated and run by the church.

However where there is legal action taken to oppress any minority, regardless of religion, there often follows the physical persecution of the targeted portion of society. It was for this reason that our founding fathers first decided to separate the church from the state and the state from the church. It was clear that if the religious freedoms of all citizens were to be protected that the country must not endorse or push the religious views of any one group over that of another. This was one of the very reasons the initial citizens of Europe had left their homelands in the first place. Yet it is the very thing that Nathanael and his foundation strive to instate through there religious fervor. 

This is made rather clear in The Brother Nathanael Foundation's website:

From the "Vision" statement- 
(capitalization not added by us, bold highlights however are)

"We will DEMAND equal time and MORE for Christian symbols in the public square and support Christian institutions dedicated to the advancement of a Christian society."

 "We will start an education program to bring WHOLESOME sexual ideology to Public School Students."

"We will expose the Zionist State of Israel as an Anti-Christ state due to its denial that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah."

Lets ignore the fact that Nathanael's organization uses the overtly anti-Semitic slogan of calling Israel collectively "Zionist" and thus indicting all Jews within it's borders of being such. Lets ignore that there is no room in his arguments for making a distinction between radical Jews and the rest of us. Lets ignore the fact that many of Nathanael's writings and speeches carry exerts from Mein Kampf and other well known hate saturated doctrines. Lets just focus on the more sadistic characteristics of Nathanael's "evangelism". 

"DEMAND... MORE for Christian symbols"

When was the last time you got to see an Ramadan service held publicly at the White House? Oh that is right, Obama just recently held on a White House Ramadan Iftar dinner on July 25th, 2013. Yet Judaism is supposed to be in complete control of the White House according to radicals like Nathanael. So obviously this was just a ploy, right? Yet this was President Obama's fifth Iftar meal and celebration at the White House.

But President Obama is a liberal president and thus a Jewish "goy", right? I mean that is what Nathanael's organization would like the world to believe. He has spent countless hours preparing videos in which he compares Democratic politicians as "Zionists' goys" being held captive to a global Jewish plot to take over the "world's leading superpower". So perhaps only liberal Jewish pawns allow Islam to take center stage regardless of Ramadan falling relatively close to the Jewish Three Weeks of fasting? 

But to believe this we would have to overlook President George W. Bush's eight consecutive Ramadan Iftar services during his presidency. And we would have to go back to President Clinton to find the first celebrations of Ramadan and the holding of Iftar meals at the White House. Yet of course if we are to listen to Nathanael these are new ploys by the Jewish conspiracy to further push Islam through a president (Obama) who has done more to harm America's relations with the Middle East than any other president (sadly, even Bush). 

Yet the Iftar meals and other Muslim celebrations held at the White House are only the starting point for Nathanael's campaign to force Christianity upon the rest of America through the executive branch. Besides demanding that the White House put up and maintain a nativity scene throughout the month of December, Nathanael's foundation demands that the Chanukah menorah be banned. Thus showing that Nathanael isn't really all that worried about other religions having their time in the public square but rather just wants Judaism banned from public view. 

This rather rabid approach to attacking what, if Nathanael was truly Jewish from birth, he should realize is a minor Jewish holy festival is just the starting point. From this jumping off point fanatics like Nathanael leap into pushing for restrictions on openly celebrating Passover (Pesach) and Yom Kippur. The real target in these perverse attacks is the ultimate denial of religious observances in any manner that might offend the fringe elements of Christendom.

And since it is impossible to exist without offending somebody, somewhere, it is impossible to celebrate any of these holy days at any time. Pesach is the mark on the calender with which Christians use to identify when Easter arrives each year. Yet the push for "MORE" Christian symbols in the public square while limiting Jewish symbols would mean that Pesach would basically have to be banned all together. 

Now I, as a conservative Jew, don't much care for the parts of Pesach which the rest of society gets to see in public (i.e. the grocery store). Matzo is one of the worst pieces of bread ever made... which makes it's name fitting. And yet if radicals like this are allowed any real respect in public thinking then the matzo would have to be done away with so the Easter Bunny can have it's place in the public square. For all public facilities are an extension of the public square and therefore symbols of a religion in those facilities are just as offensive as if they were placed upon the White House lawn. 

"WHOLESOME sexual ideology"

This one statement in his "vision statement" isn't Nathanael's first time indicating that Judaism in the reason for homosexuality across the world. This is a running theme in Nathanael's preaching as he pushes a homophobic ideology onto a modern society. It doesn't take long listening to Nathanael to realize that this ideologue truly believes that homosexuals are Satan's spawn and thus products of "the Jews". 

Once again it is hard to incorporate the traditional beliefs of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam with those of a modern, tolerant, and open society. The reality of living in a day and age where all people are to be accepted as they are rather than what a given religion would dictate for them has evaded Nathanael and his organization. Where members of all three Abrahamic faiths have found it within themselves to accept others the members of this hate group reject homosexuals outright. Instead of acceptance and the "love of Christ", homosexuals can only expect vile bigotry from Nathanael and his followers. 

This is only made more bizarre by Nathanael's belief that his narrow minded hate speech should be standard reading for our children in public schools. So much so that Nathanael's organization has drafted curriculum teaching "orthodox" Christian doctrine as fact instead of scientific reality that homosexuality occurs naturally. Thus attempting to force one religion's views upon the youngest citizens of our country through a state funded system (in direct violation of "separation of church and state"). 

Fortunately the "foundation" has had no such luck in forcing it's bigoted views upon any public school so far...

Antisemitism And Other Prejudice

Regardless of his main views of "the Jews" as being the main enemies of a Christian nation, Nathanael's hatred is not bound simply to religion. In several videos and throughout his writing Nathanael often expresses a profound hatred for non-whites. He takes this hatred for the "lesser races" by proposing that "white America" is on the brink of becoming extinct. He cites supposed illegal immigration regardless of the immigration process these "lesser races" took to arrive here. He also, of course, blames "the Jews" for this wave of "third world" immigrants.

"America's Multicultural Nightmare" 

"American Jewry's Push For Massive Immigration"

"White Anger Or White Stupor?"

"The End Of White America"

These "third world" immigrants from "non-Christian countries" are a threat in the eyes of radicals like Nathanael. All we have to do is compare his views with those of well known racists like David Duke (also an antisemitic hate monger). By noticing the common enemies these two radical Christian windbags choose we can see who the ultimate source of their hatred really is. Though the "third world" immigrants get to take some of the blame for the supposed downfall of "white America", "the Jews" get the bulk of the alleged guilt. 

Freedom Of Hates Speech

In a civil society we must always learn to tolerate the fringe elements of every given group. However, we must also make a consistent push to isolate these voices and separate ourselves from them. By giving them favorable recognition we allow their views to be seen as somewhat acceptable and even respectable. 

We must make certain that we speak out against these radicals with every chance we are given. We must be relentless in identifying their fallacies whenever and wherever they attempt to push them. By making it clear that these are not opinions that our society at large accepts we make it clear that the liberties of all our citizens are protected from the tyranny they attempt to push. Though we must allow them the opportunity to speak we do not have to give them the chance to be left unchallenged. For with every right there are obligations, and the challenging of hate speech is an obligation that arises with the freedom of speech itself.

September 29, 2013

The Canary In The Coal Mine

Laying At The Bottom Of The Cage
(Roma In Europe series)

In every society there is often one group of people whom the rest of society deems it acceptable for the rest of society to discriminate against. For the groups within that society which set just on the edge of the boundary between being acceptable targets of discrimination and not being on that same plane, these are the canaries. Their well being, or lack there of, acts as an indicator for what awaits the rest of society’s vulnerable minorities. If the accepted scapegoat is abused relentlessly the rest of society’s minorities can expect no better treatment in the near future. If however the said scapegoat is tolerated then the rest of society’s minorities can, within reason, expect to be tolerated as well.

In the Arakan state of Burma the canary has always been the Rohingya people. Their song as of late has been that of a warning of their impending death. Many have already passed away. Yet the world ignores their plight as the Kaman and other minority groups in Burma now suffer the same fate. The Rohingya are the scapegoat upon which the aggression, the hatred, and the blame for all of society’s ills can be placed. The sheer weight of this burden lends itself to their sad songs as their women, children, and elderly slip through the grate.

The reason groups like the Rohingya in Burma and the Romani in Europe spend so much time calling out warnings that no one hears is almost unexplainable. Their sorrow can be heard with every passing day if only the world had ears to listen and a heart with which to feel. And perhaps it is in that one aspect of our relationship with these groups that we can see just to what extent these groups are true canaries in the coal mine.

Europe’s Canary 

Prior to the rise of fascism in Germany in the mid 1920’s there was a silent battle that history has all but forgot. It was a struggle that society’s most neglected and abuses minority began on it’s own and would end with millions more by their side. It was a horrific fight for survival that was ignored by the very people who would later end up in the same camps. It was the beginning of the Romani peoples’ “devouring”.

In the early days of the Holocaust the Germans appeared at times pacified with their attempts to simply kill off the mentally handicapped and those deemed to be a drain upon civilized society. While it is debatable as to how the Germans viewed the Roma in regards to the race laws (mostly enacted against the Jews) the results of these actions is not. Soon after the first gassing of mentally handicapped and terminally ill patients the Germans began to clear Roma ghettos around major German cities. Some were moved to camps located near city dumps and other unsanitary locations in an attempt to lower the quality of life to a point where death and disease were inevitable. These smaller ghettos were designed to overcrowd the camps and create drastic shortages in food, water, and other basic necessities of daily life.

The most direct result to the German public however was the sudden disappearance of the “gypsy” community from many German cities. This minor reward to an ethnocentric and bigoted society was enough for most German citizens to overlook the mistreatment of the Roma themselves. Small incentives like this would only serve to prove to the German government that the citizens of their society were capable of being bought off when it came to their moral standards and the treatment of other human beings.

When Roma were soon driven out of camps in forests and community areas the German people nearly celebrated even more. There was little to no public response that would prove to be unfavorable to the deportation and cruel confinement of entire Roma families. The lack of dissension amongst society proved to the German government once again that the songs of Europe’s canary were falling upon deaf ears.

With the opening of Germany’s first concentration camps the only real sound of dissension came when Germans suddenly realized that these camps were not meant just for Jews and Roma. When the fear that they could be next finally arose the German people were awoken to the reality that it was already too late. German citizens, not of Jewish or Roma origin, who would join the minorities they had ignored were said to need reeducated on what being a “good German” really was. The songs the canary had sung for so long were already silent as many Roma already lay dead at the hands of the well rooted fascist regime.

Today in France and across the rest of Europe the song of Europe’s canary is approaching it’s last notes. Warning cries have been falling upon deaf ears for some time now as countries like France have continued to deport and cruelly detain entire Roma families. This has only been added to as countries like Sweden are added to the roster of fascists ready and willing to join the ranks of oppressors. A lesson that history so brutally taught Europe just a couple generations ago is now being drummed back up as these tyrants beat their chest and push their boots upon the Romas’ backs.

The bigotry that had been seen in Europe prior to the World War Two (though doubtful it ever really faded) is approaching the same levels today as it was back then. People who call themselves tolerant and open-minded when it comes to drugs, sex, and religion are now willing to sacrifice their morals when it comes to race. And with this one point, this one area of selling out to power hungry politicians, the liberties of Europe are pushed closer to the edge. For where they give an inch the governments to which they bow will take a mile.

"Stockholm City Kept Roma Registry Until 1996"
- The Local
"Majority Of French Believe Roma Should Leave France"
- France 24

"French Police Clear Roma Camp In Centre Of Roubaix"
- BBC News

"French Minister Calls For Roma To Be Sent Home"
- Irish Independent 

What is even more surprising however is the sheer rate of speed at which governments like France's have been able to capitalize upon their citizens' bigotry and callousness. Two short years ago the French government was risking everything when they sent wave after wave of Romani families off to Eastern Europe. Now the French public seems to be just as heartless as their government as they quickly begin to cheer the government on in it's new round of deportations. There is little to no empathy in the sounds of France's collective voice as it bids farewell to the Roma who have called France home for countless years.

So what lay ahead for France's remaining minorities now that the canary has been ignored?

Muslims in France, and rapidly across the rest of Europe, are filling in the role that the Jewish population had played during fascism's last march across the continent. In an eerie manner, the Muslim population has begun to feel the same level of discrimination that Jews had felt in the late 20's and early 30's. Where the Germans had created laws to increase the level of violent oppression the Jews had felt, France refuses to uphold laws. Where the Germans had forced the Jews to wear yellow stars, France strips the Muslims of their religious clothing. Yet no matter the small differences in the approach; society at large has vastly ignored the sudden increase in discrimination against a group they quietly deem to be the "new comers".

This of course is not factual since Mosques and Muslims have been part of Europe for countless generations. Yet it is the same bigoted response that Jews faced in Germany as their leaders and government encouraged the discrimination that these such accusations encourage. By clarifying the line of demarcation between "us verses them" the society takes the next step and government gets to increase it's control.

Where we should had seen this with the Roma over the past couple decades we are now approaching the point of being too late to see it with the rest of Europe's vulnerable minorities. By allowing the French (and other governments as well) to deport and harass Romani citizens we give the green light for those same leaders to do equally depraved acts to the rest of society. If a group can be singled out for unjust and inhumane acts of oppression and discrimination than any other group can be made the scapegoat as well.

If the portions of Europe's minorities that set on the fringe of society are to be spared, the rest of society must decide to take a stand against the oppressors. For it is in their silence that fascism is fed. It is in their ignorance that tyranny plants it's seed. And it is in their apathy that the roots of future dictatorships take hold.

September 27, 2013

Pluck My Eyes Out

Sew My Mouth Shut...
(Screamers Post)

"We've forgotten much. How to struggle, how to rise to dizzy heights and sink to unparalleled depths. We no longer aspire to anything. Even the finer shades of despair are lost to us. We've ceased to be runners. We plod from structure to conveyance to employment and back again. We live within the boundaries that science has determined for us. The measuring stick is short and sweet. The full gamut of life is a brief, shadowy continuum that runs from gray to more gray. The rainbow is bleached. We hardly know how to doubt anymore."

             In a world where people incessantly tend to focus on their own given crisis of the day there really isn’t much hope for the rest of mankind. The continual desire to wrap ourselves in the same flag day in and day out leaves all these so called humanitarians blind to the world around them. Though they claim to be more aware of the world than any other they never bother to employ empathy over apathy when the given cause would require of them actual work. Instead the masses of self-infatuated humanitarians would rather beat their chest so over self-serving issues that only serve to bloat their abortive versions of humanitarian work.

It doesn’t take long once immersed in certain pools of such self-felicitating narcissist to realize that even their pet causes don’t really matter to them. The reason for caring in the first place was always about serving their sense of self-worth and feeding their own ego. By attaching such lofty virtues as empathy to themselves they would wish that others viewed them as being in perpetual servitude to a cause greater than themselves. Yet the causes they pick are always associated with them in one way or another. The simple desire to help others on the basis of their humanity is absent.

At some point this approach to serving the needs of others crosses over from humanitarian work to ideological masturbation. The desire to alleviate the suffering of others and ensure a better life for the downtrodden is replaced by the desire to assure their own ego’s elation. When the given cause proves fruitless they don’t, however, decide to move to the next one; instead these narcissists turn cannibalistic.  Where failure to end the anguish of the people they claim to be helping occurs these egocentric ideologues turn to self-flagellation.

The goal of humanitarian work should never resemble any of these things. Though we are supposed to be invested in our cause we are not supposed to make the cause about us. When we are immersed in the suffering of others the threat of having our empathy for the other turn to apathy become a very real possibility. The prolonged application of another person’s suffering to our own consciousness creates callousness to the pain we sought to alleviate in the first place. It also creates an emotional trigger from which we respond once others touch upon that pain. Neither of which are constructive to the work intended to come from our initial investment in the first place.

Then there comes the aspect of picking and choosing for what causes a so called humanitarian is willing to devote any time to. This is an area of this field I have never understood in part due to the arrogance of it. Either you use your voice, your time, and your effort to help all or you never really help anyone. There is either no greater calling in helping our fellow man or there is the calling to help our fellow this, that, or the other. By picking a particular group on the basis of how your own sympathies lie you neglect the notion of serving others and rather pick the desire to protect your own. Whether that is on the basis of nationality, religion, race, or social standing. It is an aspect of humanitarians today that is both sickening and disheartening.

When faced with the opportunity to help someone who is desperate need the last thing that should be on our mind should be his or her religion. Yet the fact remains that in far too many the “Ummah” or “body of Christ” is far more important than helping those who are perishing daily. Tribalism and collectivism replaces the notion that our fellow man is no better or worse than we are and subjects them to our indifference on that basis.

We don’t need more people to simply be sympathetic or apathetic to the causes of which this blog speaks. We need people who are willing to speak out for another person regardless of what differences there might be between them. We need people who can rise above the selfish desires that seem to allure so many to this work, but rather people who are willing to give of themselves freely and without guile. The world after all doesn’t need more egos to feed but rather those who are ready and willing to feed their fellow man. It doesn’t need more voices droning on about causes simply to appear big hearted, but rather those who will scream regardless of how it makes them appear.

If we can do none of these things than the world would be better if we simply plucked our eyes away and ignored the images we so often flaunt for our causes. It would be better that we be made mute than to have our voices rumble on about anything and nothing. Either the work at hand is valuable for the aspect that it helps others or it is a selfish endeavor. There is no gray area here.

"Mourn not the dead that in the cool earth lie, but rather mourn the apathetic, throng the coward and the meek who see the world's great anguish and its wrong, and dare not speak."

September 23, 2013

First They Came For The Hijab

France's Religious Freedom Failures

When the last wave of fascism spread across Europe the socialists who spread their banner of intolerance across the nations of Western Europe wasted no time targeting religious freedoms. Conservative Judaism suffered immediate harassment as the French brown shirts took up the German jackboots' cause. Beards were publicly desecrated as the peyos locks were sheered off. To add insult to injury these same Jews were then forced to adorn their clothing with a yellow star to identify themselves ironically in much the same way their religious customs had. However this time their sense of religious identity was upon the terms of the fascist and not in accordance to their religious customs.

For the Muslims of France the first step in reestablishing these very sins committed under, and often blamed upon, the Nazis. Yet in modern France there are no foreign fascist to blame these modern denials of religious freedoms upon. Today the French have only themselves and their own bigotry to blame for the denials of religious practices to a distinct religious group.

Once again the French strip away one of the most precious practices of their victims in an attempt to humiliate their victims. It is no more an attempt to preserve "French values" than it is an attempt to impose higher values upon the targeted portion of their society. For if religious intolerance is a French value than the victimized community should not be expected to practice religious tolerance anywhere on the planet. Once shown that their faith is given less value than that of their oppressors', how can France expect a social standard be shown toward them that they deny to others?

The idea of forcing a new set of standards upon a small portion of society is not only counterproductive but also goes completely against the ideals of liberty and equality. In a free and open society there can be no room made for intolerance of our basic G-d given rights. Let alone when it is the government applying such double standards upon society at large. For if any portion of our society is not allowed to practice their basic human rights; none of us are truly free.

The main excuse for the "burqa ban" has been the blatantly false concern for public safety. When politicians run out of things to blame their biases upon these days they turn to the mind-numb masses and screams danger. And in a modern world where the masses are just about gullible enough to drink the kool-aid these scare tactics somehow still have an affect.

But what are we really risking by allowing our Muslim sisters to be abused by the legislators of Europe?

Small Steps Toward Tyranny

When Germany began it's march toward totalitarianism in the late 1920's the German public was not well aware of what was awaiting them over the next two decades. Their flirtation with a national sense of pride and the promises of a politicians was a poison that would rot their sense of self worth. Their own identities would have to be sold to the state if they wished to obtain the prizes that their new leaders dangled just out of reach. And sure enough, the Germans took the bait. 

In France Europe watched as deviant leaders dangled lofty promises of "restoring French pride" in a society that never really had any. Slowly the seed took root and the people of France began to sell off their own self worth for the promise of a new and better France. Their own identities as liberal and free thinking individuals has slowly decayed as France inches it's way toward fascist socialism. The lie of what a person must be to be truly "French" has already be swallowed by the masses. The cookie cutter image of what a "good French citizen" should look like has already been supplanted in place of their own self image. No longer is the model citizen allowed to freely and openly practice their faith, but rather is expected to pay homage to a godless state. 

With the removal of publicly displayed Christian symbols the French were expected to show that they were cutting ties to their Christian past and moving toward a free and open society. However, once the public accepted that the church and state were separate the state began to cross the boundary and play the role of church. Where the idea of limiting the role of religion in politics had been so keenly imposed the rationalization of limiting the state's role in religion was not. 

This is where the hijab battle in Europe is best displayed. 

In a public that was willing to limit and even oppress the rights of it's Christian "bitter clingers" the society cannot expect the state to practice limits. This is why the overreaching of the state in it's relationship with the mosque is not surprising. Had the state been pushed back when it was dabbling in the church it would have been less likely to have reached it's hands into the mosque right afterward. Yet the public said nothing, so now they can do little to stop it. 

The pace at which a state moves toward tyranny is determined by the reaction of those who it governs. If the public remains silent as the state oversteps it's bounds with one group than all the rest have no ability to rely upon the others when the state comes stepping on their toes as well. The old poem "First They Came" is in this sense a warning to all portions of community when dealing with a government that attempts to grow at their expense. 

As for France, the Roma have long been the canary in the coalmine. 

When the government of France began deporting legal Romani citizens alongside newly immigrated Roma from Eastern Europe their countrymen remained silent. The deportations of Roma were looked at as an attempt to bring law and order back to the ghettos of France's cities. The scapegoat, the Roma, were just the objects upon which the French attached their collective sins. And in step with their history with France, the Roma took another one on the chin while Europe covered it's eyes. 

The canary's calls were ignored. And even when the canary fell to the bottom of it's dirty cage... nobody said a word. 

Now the fascist have moved on to another target that they had been eyeballing for years now. 

Prison Or Piety?

"O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment. But the clothing of righteousness - that is best. That is from the signs of All-h that perhaps they will remember." ~ Qur'an 7:26

The hijab is to Islam what the kippa is to Judaism. It is yet another way for the observant to show their faith and devotion to All-h. Not publicly, contrary to what the outside world might think, but in a very personal manner that professes their dedication to the path G-d has directed for them. It is only coincidence that this portion of their faith is visible to a world that does not fully understand or appreciate it. 

Contrary to what a non-Muslim might think, the burqa is not mentioned in the Qur'an. However, the word "hijab" is mentioned in the Qur'an seven times (five times as hijab and twice as hijaban). In every occurrence the word hijab is used to mean "a barrier or veil between G-d and the human being". It is at no time mentioned as an article of clothing or a garment with which a female should adorn herself in the presence of a man. 

In this light one should understand that if a woman, especially one in a secular society, chooses to adorn the article of clothing we refer to as a hijab they are doing so under their own will. It is not a compulsory portion of Islam and has not been commanded of them by the mosque or their imam. Thus the decision to wear the headscarf is one born out of their own religious ideals and is not a "prison" with which Islam "enslaves" them (as Western feminists and conservatives have often said). 

This decision on behalf of the hijab wearing Muslim is much the same as the decision of orthodox Jews to wear the kippa (often refereed to in Yiddish as a yarmulke). Not once in the Torah does G-d command Jewish men to wear a a kippa. This is evident by the lack of a blessing associated with putting on the kippa since there is no commandment for Jews to recite (as is custom when putting on articles such as the tallit). Therefore the two garments are a rather personal decision, and though not born out of religious mandate, that should be respected due to the individual's personal relationship not with their religion but with their G-d. 

For me, a conservative Jew who does wear a kippa daily, the decision to wear the kippa is one that reminds me of G-d's will for my life. It is a sentiment that is just as sacred as keeping my beard. And even though it is just a small circle piece of clothing, the kippa is a part of my daily routine that keeps my love, my passion, and my desire to serve G-d at the front of my mind. I can only imagine that for Muslim women wearing the hijab this article of their clothing holds just as much sentiment and significance for them as well.

Who Is Next?

The main reason that the hijab battles spreading across Europe should be worrisome even to those who are not religious is rather simple. In a society where we are willing to deny the rights of a few there is no sense of security for the many. If a government is able to restrict the practices of a portion of society they are more than capable of stripping the rights of every other citizen as well. And where a portion of society is capable of being isolated and set aside for devious intent the risk of crimes against all humanity remain a very real possibility. 

When the first Germans were sent off to be reeducated the rest of Germany remained silent. That silence was a weapon in the hands of the government. It was the ammunition they needed to take the next step toward absolute control. With that silence the governments of man can strip away the identities of every individual and replace it with a soulless, heartless, and numb collective. The very essence of what we are as a society is denied to us as the image of what a faceless regime wants us to be replaces it. With our silence we not only lose our voice but also the very liberties we should be using our voices to defend.

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September 20, 2013


Farewell To "The Perfect Man"
(Human Extinction series)

(Onge Women With Traditional Dress and Face Paint)

At the turn of the century the British were spreading like a plague upon the face of the earth. They brought development at the cost of the native peoples they colonized. Like the barbarians that overran Rome, the British came in waves as they fanned out to the four corners of the planet. This strategy of taking anything that didn't have a European flag planted in it (and at times even then) allowed the Brits to slaughter the indigenous tribes just like the Spaniards in South America. Taking anything they wanted while exploiting the people they claimed to be making civilized.

What had been done to the Americas for two centuries prior was now being done to India and Southeast Asia. The Europeans who had come before them were somehow made to look like saints as the British killed anything that would not fall in line. And when the locals outnumbered the invaders, Britain simply exploited local feuds to pit neighbor against neighbor... after all, it worked in America.

Upon first contact with the British the Onge, "En-iregale" in their own tongue (meaning perfect man), had numbered around 670 people. They were united and had a strong culture built upon centuries of living amongst the Andamanese islands. They were in tune with the cycles of the sea so much so that all 96 Onge members survived the 2004 tsunami by retreating to the highlands. They had a sustainable way of life that included hunting and fishing along with gathering of plants and edible roots.

Today the Onge people have just under 100 surviving members. They are confined to a tiny portion of their native lands in Indian built houses that are at best poorly built and rarely maintained. Disease and social ailments introduced by the British and Indians have left the Onge struggling to survive. Their hunting grounds are often kept off limits to them while poachers encroach upon their tiny scrap of land. The semi-nomadic practices they had once enjoyed as a society are now almost all but gone.

Some of the most humiliating results of their forced settlement (during the 1970's) has been the denial of their rights to hunt upon their own lands by the Indian government. Culturally it has always been traditional that an Onge man has not been allowed to marry until he has killed a wild boar. Now, with the persistent problem of poachers, the Onge men face humiliation or the need to break Indian imposed laws to culturally be accepted as a man.

For the women the settlement has meant being unable to provide for their children in the same ways their ancestors had. This has led to several issues including malnutrition amongst the Onge children. When the men are unable to hunt pigs or sea turtles the women are needed to gather food. But this has been increasingly difficult since large parts of the island are off limits to the Onge due to the Indian governments neglect of them.

Food has always been important to people. What we eat not only provides us nourishment but provides a mental link for us to remember people and places we grew up with. In the West we often call this "soul food". For the Onge people this comfort has been deprived to them by the British initially and currently the Indian government. The foods that their ancestors had taught them to survive off, to love, are now difficult for the Onge to obtain. Classic comfort foods for them are quickly becoming a memory.

All of these elements contribute strongly to the possibility of extinction for the Onge people rather plausible. Though the birth rate is often cited as improving amongst the Onge people the fact is that it is miserably low (drastically when compared to the rest of India). Then when coupled with an extremely unacceptably high infant mortality rate, the Onge people's hopes for survival are placed in doubt. This is only further exacerbated by the gender ratio is horrifically imbalanced (in 2006 there were 12 boys under 5 years old verses only six girls).

So now that over 100 years has passed since the Onge first met the rest of the world we are facing a point where we might just have to say farewell to "the perfect man". It is a sad reality that the world has allowed a people, of which we know so little about, to vanish from the face of the planet without a single tear, a word of remorse, or a goodbye.

In 2012 the world's citizens donated just over 90 million to World Wildlife Fund to help save animals from extinction. From their own pockets, these caring individuals sacrificed a small portion of their money to a cause that they cared deeply about (or at least enough to donate towards). Some may have been donating to the cause of saving polar bears, or pandas, or even the black rhinoceros. Others may have simply donated to help save animals in general. But what would they have donated had they been donating to UNICEF or other organization helping to save the Onge people from extinction?

Are human lives not worth more than that of a bear or elephant?

There are around 25,000 Asian Elephants alive in the world today.
There are around 4,850 Black Rhinoceroses alive in the world today
There are around 2,500 Bengal Tigers alive in the world today.
There are around 1,600 Giant Pandas alive in the world today.

Yet there are less than 100 Onge people still clinging to existence.

It shouldn't be difficult for people to realize that something in this comparison doesn't add up. We aren't comparing these people to animals in any way other than how the outside world views them. They were exploited for a century and kept out of sight when the world found it indecent to abuse them any further. All the while the Indian government has taken from them everything it has wanted while pushing them further towards oblivion with each passing year.

The main reason for this comparison is that of our own guilt in allowing the Onge people to perish. While we worry about tigers (allotted 15,818 sq miles of reserves in India) the Onge people are confined to 1/3 of their native lands. While we worry about the extinction of elephants in Asia the Onge people tiptoe toward their own extinction. And all the while we ignore the plight of our fellow man.

During January of 2012 we watched as the last Bo tribal member died. His final gift to the world was a sad and lonely song. In his words he spoke of watch the last great tree fall with a deafening crashing sound. One can only imagine that he was that tree and his voice was that final scream to a world too deaf to hear his peoples' pleas.

What will we do when the last Onge person passes away before our eyes?

Will we wait to hear yet another sad song?

Or will we scream before that day comes?

Want to learn more about this issue or contact the author?

Twitter: @alders_ledge
FaceBook: Alder's Ledge

Source Documents
*note not all sources listed

Cultural Survival

Survival International



Indigenous Policy Journal

World Wildlife Fund

September 19, 2013

The Elephant's Crushing Weight

India's Attempts To Subdue Kashmir

Indian police officers arrest a Kashmiri boy protesting during curfew in Srinagar, India, Saturday, July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)

Read more here:

It is the long held tradition in human history that given members of society have painted conflicts in the light of an oppressor (aggressor) and the underdog. Yet in most fights that have taken place throughout history there has rarely been a clear cut aggressor and a pure victim. When the facts are laid out there are often reasons for why and how a conflict has played out. The side that has had the upper hand is rarely as evil as the sympathetic onlooker might paint them. And likewise, the apparently victimized side is rarely innocent in the overall scheme of the conflict.

This generalization of war can be applied to most conflicts between organized states. A certain level of antagonism takes place as the two sides size one another up like grade school boys. The larger one generally attempts to flaunt it's muscles like a bull pacing the fence. While the smaller challenger more often than not just tries to save face as it puffs up it's chest and prepares to attempt to outlast it's foe. It is this simplistic approach to generalizing war between states that can be given to outdated battles and wars of days now past. It can't however be applied to modern crises where a third party finds themselves trapped between old world style conflicts.

In Kashmir the third party happens to be the people who lived upon the land prior to the development of the two rivaling states. They are an innocent bystander in a conflict that places two egotistical foes against one another. Leaving the Kashmiri people trapped between two sides that so selfishly utilize the land and it's people as pawns in a power struggle from which no one will ever benefit.

In a simplified version of war the Kashmiri people just simply wouldn't exist. Either they would be Pakistani or Indian. And that bloody, densely militarized, zone of "control" would be void of life. That would be the portrayal of war with which the Western world is familiar. A landscape of no-man's lands where only the dogs of war dare stray.

But Kashmir isn't a land of burnt foliage and bomb craters. It is a land of rich and deep heritage that fills the Kashmiri people to the brim. It is a land where dusty roads and green trees hide in the shadows of looming mountains. It is a land of picturesque waters dotted with houseboats and old men wasting the days away at the water's edge. And yet for all it's beauty, Kashmir is also a land where Islam and Hinduism have been forced to violently butt their heads like rams.

This struggle is one in which the two sides, India and Pakistan, are forced to hold their positions while keeping the Kashmiri people in check. To do so India has relied upon some of the most heinous of atrocities and tactics to keep the will of a broken nation beneath it's heel.

Holding The Line

Unending Ambush

From the moment the British left the Kashmir valley has been plagued by death and destruction. This bitter legacy of bloody hands on both sides has left the valley divided and distributed amongst three glutenous countries. The hellish fighting that led up to this modern "cease fire" culminated in countless stalemates. In the end the main scar that has remained upon the land itself is the "Line of Control" (LOC), or "Asia's Berlin Wall". 

Much like Korea's divide, Kashmir's scar is pot-marked with guns, soldiers, tanks, planes, and anything that can kill. Most horrifically however are the weapons that don't simply walk away if the war was ended tomorrow. One silent killer, the ever present stalker, will live well past the end of Kashmir's divide. The landmine. 

Placed by the two brutal armies of India and Pakistan, the landmine is a weapon that is impossible to keep track of and contain. In Kashmir these weapons of war have, as they always do, killed an maimed countless civilians as the two armies place the blame on the opposite side. And yet regardless of who places them, these weapons continue to claim more lives even when relative peace is established along the LOC.

Landmines are a weapon that have long been utilized due to their ability to hinder the advancement or movement of an enemy combatant. Yet with every weapon there are trade offs that the military often callously labels as "collateral damage". For the landmine the trade off is the inability of the device to determine who exactly it is about to kill once the bomb becomes active. It has no ability to determine if the victim is a fully armed combatant or just a child running past. Either way, the damage is unable of being stopped once the weapon has been triggered. And it is for this reason that the landmine is often deployed... there is no escape. 

For the civilian population along the LOC in Kashmir the threat of landmines lingers well after the threat of war has passed. In 2002 the area was flooded with landmines as India and Pakistan began to prepare for open conflict over the disputed region. India is believed to have placed just over 200 thousand landmines in the area along the LOC in Jammu region alone as a response to the Pakistani troop surge along there. One can only guess as to how many more were placed in Kashmir as the Indian Army prepared for invasion along the LOC fences in the Kashmir region. 

Today the Indian Army claims to have cleared at least 80% of the landmines it placed in 2002 when it prepared for a war that fizzled out. However in 2007 a rash of landmine explosions plagued the Jammu region as wildfires, cattle, and civilians all triggered the deadly sentinels. This outbreak of death and destruction highlighted the fact that (then) 16,000 acres of mine-affected land in Jammu and 173,000 acres in Kashmir were still extremely lethal killing fields. 

India currently, as it has for the past decade, resisted identifying ares afflicted with mines and disclosing just how many mines it has laid along the LOC. Instead of warning civilians in the region, India allows civilians to live in afflicted areas so as to conceal the locations from Pakistani intelligence. This means that India permits innocent civilians to be maimed and killed by it's mines so as to hide the locations from an enemy it has yet to openly fight. 

In 1997 the world was given the Mine Ban Treaty. 158 countries became signatories to an international agreement that would officially ban the use and maintaining of landmines and mine fields. India and Pakistan have refused to sign the treaty (along with Russia and China). Despite 40% of the signatories showing that you can sign the treaty and simply create laws of your own to permit domestic use of mines, India refuses to sign the treaty.

Instead India continues to place hundreds of thousands of it's four to five million mines along the LOC dividing line. Instead of taking a step toward peace, India continues to place these gatekeepers to hell along the LOC. With no regard to the safety of the Kashmiri civilians, India actively places and maintains it's landmines in Kashmir. 

Striking At The Soul Of Kashmir

February, 1991 a detachment of Indian soldiers in Kunan Poshpura, Kashmir gang-rape at least 53 Kashmiri women. Accounts of this incident are varied in numbers. Witnesses to the crime have at times disappeared. And those who dare speak out are routinely threatened or made to be quite by the Indian military. 

Officially, according to the Indian government, the mass gang-rape in Kunan Poshpura did not happen. Despite countless credible accounts and documented evidence of the crime, India's government refuses to investigate or hold the soldiers accountable. Like so many other such cases the Indian government has taken a stance of silence in the face of absolute barbarism. 

You only have to step far enough back to realize that rape cases like this one are not spontaneous acts of sexual deviancy perpetrated by hormone driven savages. To rape 53 (possibly more) women a group of men must have the apparent authority over their victims and/or the threat of immediate death to subdue their victims. The crime must be organized and orchestrated in such a manner as to prevent the act from being interrupted or discovered at the time it is being perpetrated. The victims must be restrained or confined in such a manner as to keep the assailants from sustaining bodily harm while inflicting it upon the victims. And the officials in charge must be informed of the crime so as not to end it unintentionally.

These are obviously sanctioned crimes in the fact that they are rarely if ever punished by the government or military itself. The fact that they are targeted at communities that have shown resistance to the weight of India's government upon the backs of the Kashmiri people. Where signs of resistance emerge the use of rape as a weapon has often followed in India's occupied areas of Kashmir. Thus it is undeniable that this crime is not only directed and encouraged but an intrinsic part of the Indian strategy to demoralize the Kashmiri people. 

In war the use of rape is usually defined as a method of conducting psychological warfare. Many voices on the use of rape as a weapon often state that its use is meant to inflict pain on the targeted society by humiliating and shaming the community at large. It is also classified by the United Nations, in accordance to the relationship to it and the conflict at large, as either an act of war, crime against humanity, war crime, or a constitutive act with regards to genocide. Thus meaning that it's intent is in direct relation with the intended outcome of the crime genocide given the nature of the Indian occupation of Kashmir itself.

“It has probably become more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in armed conflict.”
~ Major-General Patrick Cammaert, former UN Peacekeeper Commander DRC

One of the most horrific aspects of the rapes being committed by India's troops is the tragic affects they have on the community at large. Punishing the men by forcing them to watch and punishing the women though it's application; rape destroys the community at as a whole. Even when the women are killed in mass after being gang-raped (sometimes dieing during the attacks) the mental wounds are permanently affixed to the victimized community. Children who have had to see their parents made helpless, having to see their sister and mothers raped, do not forget these grotesque crimes.

In Bosnia the scars that were left behind due to the extensive application of rape as a weapon have remained open for decades after the genocide there. Cambodia's rape victims were even more ignored as the genocide there came to a close and Vietnamese troops began to apply rape during their advances into Cambodia. The crime was even less mentioned or recognized as we go back to World War Two and see how Japan's victims were marginalized as the Japanese were removed from their occupied territories (especially Nanjing).

One can only attempt to imagine what nearly 60 years of rape in Kashmir will leave upon the fabric of Kashmiri society. Entire generations have grown up in a time and place where rape has been an ever lingering threat hanging over their heads. Women, girls, and even boys have been victimized in ways that the Delhi government has refused to recognize or even prosecute.

The Mouse Under A Box

Crimes committed against an entire community are crimes that cannot be forgiven by the individual. These are crimes that if left unaddressed will continually come to the surface, and often violently. The urge to fight back against an aggressor is a motivation that will persist even after the aggressor has ended their attacks. It is for this reason that India's persistent application of brutal means of oppression only serve to fill the lungs of Kashmiri youth with screams... bloody cries of resistance. 

It can be compared to a mouse trapped beneath the weight of a box. Unable to move on it's own the mouse will continue to gasp for air as the box pushes each breath from it's lungs. Slowly suffering from asphyxiation the mouse will fight for each next breath as it twists and turns to find an advantageous position from which to draw it's next breath. The fight wears at the muscles as oxygen slips away and the trapped mouse uses more strength to push back against the crushing weight upon it's back. Yet despite all this the fight continues on and on as the mouse flares it's nostrils and attempts to find each next breath. 

If the weight on a people becomes so oppressive that they risk losing the very things they rely upon to bond them to one another, such as culture and shared customs; the people will push back. Even if the fight they choose is nothing more than pelting their aggressors with rocks; the people will find a way to fill their lives with a purpose... a common struggle... and a reason to take that next breath. 

For Kashmir the oppressive heel of the Indian government cannot keep them from pushing back against their oppressor's weight. They are a resilient people, a proud people, and despite all the atrocious acts committed against them; they are a people still united.

Want to learn more or reply to the author? 
Contact us:

Twitter: @alders_ledge
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Source Documents:
*Not all sources listed

Greater Kashmir

Press TV

Kashmir Media Service

Global Times

Kashmir Times

Beyond The Ummah

Screaming For Those Outside Our Faith
(Screamer Post)

The views expressed in this post are opinion based and do not represent the views of Alder's Ledge's many different contributors and writers. Our team here at Alder's Ledge is religiously diverse and do not all share the same faith or ideals. With that said this post should be seen as the opinion of our main author alone. Please read with an open mind and feel free to contact the author with any feedback you might have.

I don't often speak out against the given faiths of others. My personal opinion is that those such beliefs are not suitable for polite conversation. And yet over the past few weeks the assiduous desire to do so has constantly come forward from the back of my mind. Not from conflict with any given faith in particular. But rather due to the lack of heart and compassion I continually see in these so called believers before me. 

I understand that there is a compulsion to tend to one's own community of pious brothers and sisters before focusing on the needs of others. But I don't exactly understand as to why this compulsion exists in the first place. It is the very existence of this ethnocentric obligation that at times amuses me and yet more often than not infuriates me. 

When I first began writing about the genocide the first group that jumped on board with my "screaming" was the Armenian community. Of course the topic I was writing about at the time was the Armenian Genocide and the lack of recognition for it across the United States. So naturally the Armenian community clung to the idea of screaming and readily helped in doing so. After all, it was an effort to both remember and honor their ancestors who had perished at the hands of the Turks. 

Yet when I write about the Romani people in Europe and the Americas the collective voice of the Christian Armenian supporters falls away. 

Then came the Syrian articles. Suddenly the few Christian supporters who wanted to scream vanished. But just as they stepped away, in came Muslim supporters who wanted to scream on behalf of their oppressed brothers and sisters. And once again the faithful were ready to scream... 

Or were they?

It is easy for us to scream for those who we feel bonded to. It is easy for us to take up the struggle of a community that we share a given faith with and common sense of identity. We feel the desire because we can relate to their suffering by imagining what it would be like if we had the same thing happen to us. The ability to superimpose our own selves in their given scenario is made easier by the religion we share with them. Yet if we take away that trait and cancel out any religious sympathies we might have for the victim, the ability to scream for them dwindles rapidly. 

This has been made clear to me when I myself have crossed the imaginary line between one faith and the next to lend my voice to the oppressed on the other side. In the case of the Rohingya people, a topic I'm the sole author here on, the question comes up often as to why I care. And it is a question that seems both offensive to me and odd at the same time. 

Are the Rohingya not human beings like myself? Do they not have strong religious beliefs that are being trampled upon by the government of Myanmar in much the same way as my ancestors' religion was? And if I were in their shoes would I not want somebody to scream on my behalf? 

The question of faith is not one that should guide us toward a given "cause" or the plight of this group over that one. If we are honest in our beliefs we would note that G-d never commanded us to defend our faith at the expense of other people. Instead, and much to the contrary, our faith should guide us to care for all people no matter what their given faith or social standings might be. We should be ready to fight on the behalf of all the downtrodden and outcasts that society creates. Without a second thought, we should scream till our throats are raw and our breath runs short. For this is the basic principle of each of our faiths... to show the love our Creator has shown to us. 

O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to All-h, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, All-h is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you avoid justice; and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, All-h is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do. 
~ Surah An-Nisa 4:135

"Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause." ~ Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 1:17

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all."
~ Romans 12:15-18

If we are to call ourselves believers than we must first learn what it means to believe and not just pick and choose what suites us best. And if we are to call ourselves screamers than we must show our dedication to scream for anyone, anywhere, at anytime. We cannot choose who we love anymore than we can choose for whom we will scream. 

"For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another"
~ Galatians 5:13

We have been born free men. We have a voice that is a blessing given onto us. It is a blessing that is meant to be used not to serve our own flesh or our own people but to be at the service of others. If it is withheld from this then we should never expect others to use their blessings on our behalf.

The serving of our own community is important. But the showing of our faith through the service to others is even greater. Screaming beyond the boundaries of our faiths and outside our comfort zones shows this for all the world to see. Through this act we become a light to a dark world that so desperately needs our passion, our hearts, our love, and our voice.

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Contact Jack on Twitter: @alders_ledge

September 15, 2013

Genocide And The Church

Prodding The Believers Into The Fray
(Screamer Post)

Alder's Ledge is not affiliated with any given faith. However, the main author is Jewish and thus this post will contain aspects of his given faith. We advise those reading this post to apply their own judgement as to how this pertains to your own beliefs. "Screamer's Post" are op-ed style post and do directly reflect all our contributors' and authors' views or beliefs.

Over the past year I have had the opportunity to speak to many different men and women of G-d about the plight of the Rohingya in Burma. Ranging from pastors, rabbis, an imam, and a few other spiritual leaders of sorts. With every encounter I have had the results have surprisingly varied greatly from one individual to the next. Most have offered the usual response of admitting how terrible the crisis the Rohingya face really is. Others on the other hand deflect the crisis all together by hiding behind their G-d as an excuse for their apathy. 

"We don't feel that G-d is calling us to help..."

My faith has always led me to believe that G-d's will for His people always aligns with helping those in need. At no point in my faith have I found it plausible to turn away for any reason from the downtrodden and oppressed. My G-d has led me from my own struggles, at times with me dragging my heels like a mule, and thus I cannot find it in me to close my eyes to the suffering of others. So when faced with the statement above I have only one reply...

When did He ever tell you not to help?

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
~ Galatians 6:2

"For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, 'You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.'"
~ Devarim (Deuteronomy) 15:11

"Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked."
~ Psalm 82:4 

"Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to G-d."
~ Hebrews 13:16 

 "Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause." 
~ Isaiah 1:17

"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."
~ Philippians 2:4 

 "Those who spend (in the cause of All-h) privately or publicly, by night and day, have their reward with their L-rd. And (on the Day of Resurrection) they shall neither fear nor grieve."
 Al-Baqarah 2:274

"You shall give the due alms to the relatives, the needy, the poor, and the traveling alien; but do not be excessive, extravagant."
~ Qur'an 17:26-29

At no point has G-d commanded His believers to pick and choose to whom and to what causes they are to give their time and energy. For those who believe in giving charity (zakat) as a practice of their faith have no more claim to possessing their donation than they do in how it is spent from that point on. We were commanded by G-d to surrender a portion of everything and anything that He blesses us with so that it might benefit the L-rd and exult His name amongst the nations (the world). Our only duty is to give when and as He has directed us to. 

As I have from one house of G-d after the other over this past year I have found however that most of us grasp to every last blessing that G-d bestows upon us greedily. We cling to our cash as though we will someday get to take it with us when we leave this miserable world behind. And yet in every one of our books Ad-ni has told us that we are to be separate from the treasures of this world. He has commanded us to use all that He has given to us to spread His glory. 

So why this desire to collect our rewards in this life? 

In nearly every verse dealing with what we write off as charity G-d has shown us that money and wealth have little to do with our reward. And in each verse He has told us that simply spending these things cannot gain us favor in His eyes. We are meant to work. We are meant to spend our wealth, our energy, and our time doing His work... showing His love.

There are no rewards in this life that we can take away from it with us. When we die all this is history. All the cars, the houses, the diplomas, the accomplishments... they all are meaningless once we return to the dust from which we came. 

The only thing we have when we leave this world is the legacy that we leave behind. All we have is the mark we have left upon the lives of those we have touched in our short time on this planet. Once we are gone the only thing that will last is our legacy of showing G-d's grace, His mercy, His love, and His glory. 

Everything else will fade... everything else will die with us. 

So it has been a hard fought struggle to work my way into places I so desperately ran away from in my youth. To work my way back into the pews, behind the benches, and into the seats where I felt my spirit lead me away from so long ago. All in the name of tapping into the wealth that these houses of G-d cannot seem to put into action. In an attempt to wake the soul of a community that sets on the sidelines like terracotta warriors... void of life.

"...Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest."

It is difficult to force anyone into action when they have told themselves the lie so often that G-d has not commanded them to do so. Yet when dealing with genocide the "field" isn't just ready for harvest but the enemy is readily setting it ablaze. Despite being able to see this as a war, a struggle, in which the other side is using a scorched earth policy... the church's eyes are still fixed upon their feet. 

For a screamer this means that we must be the iron, freshly pulled from the flames, that must be used to prod G-d's believers into the field. We must be relentless in our attempts to engage the wealth of the church (temple, mosque) and create workers to bring in the harvest before it is burnt away. 

We face an enemy that prepares to make our brothers and sisters into burnt offerings. We face a holocaust. And for this reason all of us must stand up and fill the gap between despair and hope. Without that willingness to take upon the struggle of the oppressed we will otherwise be forced to watch our fellow man be ushered off to an early grave. 

No, We Can't Help Them"

Then comes the second reality I have had to come to terms with over this past year. The reality that even amongst three linked faiths there are still divisions, prejudice, and even hatred. This is a reality that has come from hearing one man of G-d after the next turn away at the very hint that the people I was asking them to help were Muslims. As if they would have helped if the victims were from any other faith...

The other part of this bigoted response has been that from the other end of the spectrum.

"You're a Jew... why would you help them?"

It isn't the reality that the prejudice against Islam and Muslims still exist, that is one I have known for decades. It is the sudden reality that despite G-d's commands to love as He has loved us, so many believers still can't look past these minor differences and simply love one another. It is that we seem so stubborn in our decision to first see the other person as a Muslim, Jew, or Christian rather than the precious being that G-d created with all His love and heart. 

For this reason, from this aspect of engaging the supposed righteous, I have found G-d's faithful to be the most challenging and exhausting group of people to address with Alder's Ledge's message. Creating screamers out of hearts that view the situation through such a narrow prism has been painful at best. 

Yet the struggle has one reward that makes this struggle so vital to helping those suffering from genocide and ethnic cleansing in Burma (and around the world). 

Setting in those pews are hearts that know a passion, a faith, and a love that is urgently needed. In those pews aren't just people who often prove to be charitable with their money, but rather have time and time again shown a willingness to put muscle behind their dollars. But first, they have always had to be driven from their prayer mats, their pews, and their alters to be dragged into the fight for justice. 

Amongst them, as with any other group of people, there are so many untapped talents and abilities. All of which must be engaged through their religion while also overcoming the prejudices that may exist. 

G-d has given us His commandments to help engage His faithful in this fight to save the Rohingya from the genocide that Burma has perpetrated against them. Now all we have to do is find ways to make the words G-d has given us break through the barriers that organized religion so often builds up around it's followers. 

And perhaps it is due to my frustration in my own struggle to do so that has led to this article...

Do you have experience with this subject? Have advice for Alder's Ledge?

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