Sep 18, 2005

"I'm A Thief"

One of the most powerful images from the aftermath of the Southeast Asian earthquake and tsunamis, was this one from Banda Aceh just days after the terrible tragedy. The photo above is that of a young man, a looter, who was beaten into submission and then paraded through the village square with a placard around his neck that says in Indonesian "Saya Maling" (I'm a thief).

Without the aid of the police or militia the photo shows the determination and the will of a altruistic, righteous and self-disciplined group of people desirous for the return of law and order to their society. A people who did not require the "whip of tyranny" a people who knew right from wrong.

There seems to be a troubling confusion here among many of the people here in Southeast Asia at how many people in the United States could have exchanged moral clarity for nothing more than feel-good relativism with regards to the looting that took place in New Orleans.

The attempts by by the mayor, governor and others to somehow justify the looting of "needed items" initially and then act totally surprised when things got out of control represents a leadership failure on a monumental scale. The looting by officers of the law and those who have taken an oath to protect us and our property clearly represented not only the complete and utter breakdown of civilized society but perhaps the most heinous evil known to man.

Many people here asked and rightly so - "Did these looted items not belong to other people?" and - "By what authority does the mayor tell people that it is okay to take what you need from another person's property?" I have found myself in a dilemma to answer these questions and explain the actions of my fellow countrymen because in my own heart I know that looting under any circumstances is wrong. It makes no difference what you loot whether it be food or televisons. It is and will always be morally wrong.

"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If "Thou shalt not covet" and "Thou shalt not steal" were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free." - John Adams - 1787

Our forefathers knew that it was wrong, where did we as a people and as a nation get lost along the way?

"Some people are stealing, and they’re making a big deal out of it. “Oh, they’re stealing 20 pair of jeans, or they’re stealing television sets.” Who cares? They’re not going to go too far with it. Maybe those people are so poor, some of those people who do that, they’ve never touched anything like that in their lives. Let them touch those things for once."

- Celine Dion on "Larry King Live"

Hows does one explain the words of Celine Dion to the people of Southeast Asia? Many here who truly live in abject poverty and who have only a fraction of the daily caloric intake of their counterparts in New Orleans.

The damage to our country's image and reputation is severe. To many in Southeast Asia now the tragedy in New Orleans has shown that while America might be a rich country, it exists only one step above complete anarchy, barbarism and savagery. The disrespect for the rights of others and the lack of moral clarity have led many here to believe that America is nothing more than an amoral hedonistic society, a society now lost, completely devoid of any moral compass and set adrift on an endless sea of moral relativism.

We have a lot of work to do to rebuild our country's image and to let people know that this is not representative of America. Im going to do my best over here as I always do in spreading the good word where I can and I would appreciate all your help. Not only must we join with the President and rebuild New Orleans but we need to help spread the good news abroad.

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