Ready Always

The last days have been very busy once again from assisting with financial planning for the Protestant parish to taking care of returning airmen from the desert. I have been up visiting sick airmen at Walter Reed and counseling with several different people.

This afternoon though, the pace slowed a little as I went out to visit with one of my squadrons, the 316th (formerly 89th) Civil Engineering Squadron. Their commander is leaving for a special school and was bidding them farewell, a sort of bitter sweet kind of event. This commander is something special too. He finished his farewell with a reminder to be "ready always", their motto. Why do we need this constant reminder? Coming home, I read in the news another reminder as to why we need to be ready always.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda's number 2 man, had this to say today:

"The war with Israel does not depend on cease-fires ... . It is a Jihad for the sake of God and will last until (our) religion prevails ... from Spain to Iraq... We will attack everywhere."

"Rely on God and fight your enemies...make yourselves martyrs."

This is why engineers and chaplains, and indeed all airmen and even all Americans need to be "ready always". There are those whose religious zeal is so great they will kill in the name of their religion. Don't get me wrong, I will defend the right of people to be spiritual, indeed that is one great think about wearing the uniform and taking an oath to defend the constitution which guarantees the right for spiritual practice and faith. But I cannot sanction death and destruction with the purpose of imposing religion upon another. Faith is not created with point of the sword. To believe that God is dependent on human beings to create a society that imposes faith on others seems guided by something other than trust in a loving and merciful God. Faith is not about human coercion but divine persuasion of the heart. If I had to force my religion upon another, I might have to wonder about the veracity of my religion. Faith should have enough persuasive power in its own merit to accomplish its task, if it is true.

We in uniform stand in the gap to defend freedom -- to be spiritual or not to be -- and I'm ok with that -- because I believe faith is created by God as He operates through the hearing of His Word. God does not need me to create a world where faith is imposed or forced on people, but only a world with freedom for people to have the option of being spiritual. I am here to meet the spiritual needs of our troops, to meet their constitutionally guaranteed right to be spiritual, but also to defend that constitution as a commissioned officer of the United States, proud that here we have freedom concerning our practice of religion and are not part of something ruling from one sea to another imposed by the gun, the bomb, or the terrorist.