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Meditation 138
Setting off Fireworks

by: JT

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When I was in Grade 5, that was the year of fireworks. All the boys spent their weekly allowances buying firecrackers, which were much more available then. And we experimented with finding the most satisfying ways to set them off.

We dropped them in trash cans; we put them in mailboxes; we tossed them in the girls' washroom at school; we built pyramids of them to ignite; and we even tried burying them. Sometimes our expectations were exceeded - the tiled walls of the washroom greatly amplified the sound of the explosion making the resulting detention worthwhile; and sometimes we were disappointed, such as our attempts at underground explosions.

Eventually, one of the experiments went awry. One of my classmates decided to check what would happen if he dropped a firecracker into the gas tank of an abandoned car. Fortunately for the rest of us, this was an independent investigation, and none of us were around. As for him, he lost an eye, and suffered permanent brain damage. He never returned to school.

As for the rest of us who survived our year of fireworks unscathed; we learned a lesson about the volatility of gasoline vapours; and that sparks and gasoline don't mix.

Recently an evangelical Christian minister from Calgary was arrested while entering Lebanon. He was accused of spying for Israel, probably a trumped up charge, but perhaps it is just as well he is in jail.

His plan was to plant cypress trees in the hills of Lebanon, where they once grew long ago. On the surface, it sounds innocuous enough, as if he is a modern day Johnny Appleseed.

But it is a little more sinister than that. He, using supposed biblical authority, believes that bringing back the cypress forests will lead Lebanon to becoming part of Greater Israel; the cypress trees will be used to rebuild the Temple; then we'll have the Second Coming and Armageddon. It's all in his interpretation of the bible.

The Middle East is a volatile place. There are enough extremists amongst both the Palestinians and the Israelis trying to prevent peace. The Lebanese are striving recover from a generation of civil war and strife between various Muslim and Christian factions, and have no desire to be part of Israel.

Then they get a fruitcake missionary endeavouring bring about the war to end the world. At the very least his actions would exacerbate the tensions between Lebanese Christians and Muslims.

No wonder they found an excuse to toss him in jail.

He was planning doing just what my classmate did nearly 50 years ago - dropping a firecracker into a gasoline tank. But he is very different from that long ago classmate; this man knows exactly what he is doing and he is deliberately placing others at risk from his actions.

There may be reason to object to the injustice of the specific charge against him. The Lebanese would be better to charge him with terrorism, because that is what his aims make him. But regardless, let him rot in jail.



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