“Modern Joshua?” by Mark Baldwin, for The Christian Left
Joshua 6:1-2 Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. Then the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.”
While we read about the revelations of Wikileaks and the trials of Julian Assange, I am drawn to the parallels and the sad contrasts to the battle of Jericho. In this metaphor, the walls of Jericho are the walls of the modern military security state.
Several spies were sent by Joshua into the city of Jericho and were protected by a prostitute and her family. Bradley Manning and Julian Assange penetrated the elaborately expensive walls of information. Contrary to popular belief, these walls are only rarely designed to protect "our sources and our assets." Rather, they are designed to prevent the American people from knowing the truth of what is being done in their name. It is not a secret to Yemenis that their villages are being surveilled and bombed by American drones. The only protection afforded Manning and Assange is the constitution, worn threadbare by those whose gulosity for money and power is maintained through secrecy.
The release of the documents and the arrest of Manning was the first sound of the trumpet. We now have conclusive proof that the war in Iraq was unjustifiable, and we can only grieve the loss of the courageous families in the armed services, and those families, none of whom have been spared, suffering in Iraq.
The release of documents about Afghanistan and the State Department and the arrest of Assange was the second sound of the trumpet, a clarion call to all people that we built the walls that imprison us, and we hold the key. The walls of secrecy that protect the purveyors of war can only be maintained by our consent. Our founders had a vision that to maintain freedom one must have freedom of conscience. That freedom is enshrined in the First Amendment. The same law, which protects the rights of various Christian denominations to worship as they see fit, which protects Muslims, Jews, Taoists and atheists also protects those speaking truth to power. All our founders understood that freedom of the press and freedom of religion were different facets of the same jewel. The right of a free conscience implies a duty for Christians that we act according to our conscience.
The hacking of Visa, MasterCard, and Paypal was the third sound of the trumpet. We learned that those who gain wealth by means other than labor, the usurers and the moneychangers are beholden to the security state. Fearing change in the laws that allow them to amass huge sums of wealth, they obsequiously comply with the government's freeze on Wikileak's accounts.
This third sound of the trumpet calls to all Christians. The Wall Street Robber Barons are only as powerful as we allow them to be. Stop feeding the usurers. To stop feeding the usurers requires a level of personal and spiritual confrontation with oneself. Am I willing to forgo convenience for the sake of Truth? We all are smacked in the face with this question as soon as we are out shopping this holiday season. Do I stop using my debit card? It is so convenient. I ask how inconvenienced are you to just get cash from your local credit union and use that? Not only do you deprive the money-changers, your local vendors will gain the percentage that would go to visa for the transaction fee. Do I start saving up for that big purchase rather than giving the usurers the wealth that I created? These personal confrontations can little by little take away money from those who have benefited handsomely from the laws of our land, have bankrupted the nation, and now sneer at the misfortunate and tell them to tighten their belts. What more motivation does a Christian need?
Foretelling the how or when the next trumpet will sound, further cracking the anti-democratic walls of the security state is not possible. We do not yet know if Assange will become a modern Joshua, leading us to decimate the walls of secrecy hiding the evil done in our name. We can, however, ask ourselves when the seventh trumpet sounds, will I lend my voice to the shout that will cause the walls to fall? Do I have the strength to make the simple changes in my life to support my community and deprive the avaricious? Dare I ask God for the courage to speak against war and injustice, and the secrecy in which they flourish? Dare we Christians raise our voice to support the need for Truth?