Tuesday, December 20, 2005


In premodern time, beheadings was the swiftest way to kill a person, and in many ways, most merciful. Knights trained at swordsmanship for most of their lives are capable of chopping off a head with one swift strike.

Today, beheading is still the chosen method for enforcing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, which the Saudis claim is an Islamic mandate. However, those who have the misfortune to witness execution in Saudi Arabia will attest to the inept swordsman striking the poor victim several times before succeeding.

Today, modern science has invented more humane ways of terminating life than beheading. So why beheading? It is to gain power through the spread of fear. The victims in this case are not only innocent human being killed, but also Islam and the integrity of its ethical tradition.

Wrestling Islam from the Extremists

Abou El Fad wrote a book titled 'The Great Theft - Wrestling Islam from the Extremists'. He differentiates between puritans (extremists) and moderate Muslims. Here is a paragraph that reveals how Muslims are divided just as we are.

Puritans believe that they are not aggressors but are simply exercising their basic right to self-defense. Their argument with moderate Muslims is "Everything you've said about the moderate position is idealistic and naive. The reality is that the West, and the United States and Israel in particular, use sophisticated weapons to kill civilians Muslims, and we have no way to defend ourselves or to strike back at them. Therefore, what we have is a situation in which dire necessity justifies violating the sacred law. We commit acts of what you call terrorism, not because we like it, but because this is the only way we can prevent the West, the United States and Israel, from massacring Muslims at will."

He is afraid that the whole fabric Islam morality could be undone under the guise of necessity. The logic of necessity means compromising the ethics and moral virtues of Islamic faith. Assuming that terrorism does somehow allow Muslims to fight back, and even become victorious, the question is: At what price this victory? If the price of a political victory is moral defeat and also the violation of the ethics of Islam and the teachings of the Koran, how is it victory at all? Often the response to this question is what distinguish a moderate from a puritan.

Funny how we are on different sides, yet we are wrestled with the same issue.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christian peace activists in Iraq

Four peace activists - Norman Kember, 74, of London; Tom Fox, 54, of Clear Brook, VA; and Canadians James Loney, 41 and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, were kidnapped in Iraq. The kidnappers demanded the release of all prisoners.

Today is the deadline. It seems the world all over is asking for the release of the hostages. It is midnight and no word has come out yet.

If the world is the result of our collective consciousness, and if the majority of the world seek for the release of the four hostages, then perhaps they will be released. That is what I would hope for.

At least, we see another kind of Muslims who come forward. They come forward to ask for the release of the hostages. Too often, the media has portrayed Muslims as extremists, fanatical, something to be feared of. Now, we know there is another side to it.

Let us pray for those four people who risked their lives seeking a peaceful resolution.

Monday, December 05, 2005

12% increase in salary for California legislators

I have no problem with salary increase, but it is at a time when there is a big deficit. They just had a special election which consume so much money. They were saying that California education has slide to the bottom because of budget problem. And now they give themselves a raise.

At times, I just want to stop paying taxes. For what? Programs have budget cuts and they have a salary increase.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Katrina Housing Problem

Today, on NPR, I heard that FEMA was planning to put the trailers in the park, but the neighbors were having a problem with it. Sure, they want to help, but not in their backyard. They are afraid of crimes, drugs come into the neighborhood.

As I understand from the article I read in Rolling Stones, in their last attempt to build FEMAville to shelter the victims of Hurricane Charley, the trailers were pretty remote, away from society. There's lack of essential services, and high crimes developed, turning it into the New American Ghetto.

Learning from that failed experiment, I think that's why they want to put trailers in the parks, close to society. However, the society doesn't want them there.

As far as housing vouchers, I don't think the administration is too keen on it, afraid that it would create a dependency.

This country needs to think what they should do with the poor. They exist. Do we want to leave them homeless, and let them fend for themselves, or do we want to be compassionate, and help them out, understanding that there would be a cost to it. I am for the latter.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Killing innocent civilians

I don't know what are in the hearts of these suicide bombers as they exploded themselves as they bring along other people with them. What can bring about such behavior? Desperation? Want to go back to God and leave this 'Hellish' world?

According to the account in the Rolling Stones, these people don't even know that this is what they will be asked to do. From one account, they've been watching their Muslim brothers being slaughtered and decided to join the jihad. If that is why, then why are there more Muslims being killed than the Americans. Are the Muslims being killed because some of them sided with the Americans? How do you know which are which?

Reminds me of Vietnam. By looking, one does not know which side he/she is from. And some functions like spy, making money by giving information. You cannot trust anybody.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


It seems there will be no pardon for 'Tookie' and he will go through execution nevertheless despite his work to discourage young people from joining gangs, and many young people listened to him.

It is unfortunate because I think it is these people that can indeed persuade potential criminals from walking away from crime. I don't know what 'Tookie' did or even if he is guilty. And if he is guilty, I haven't talk to 'Tookie' to find out whether there are any motivations.

From the Vietnam War, I have always been curious what drives people to the point where they are ready to kill. My curiosity overwhelmed my fear of death. Perhaps when that's why when the stranger pointed the gun at me, I was calm enough to ask the question. Sure, he can shoot me and I die ... so what, we all die in the end. But if in fear, I kill him first, I would never find out the answer. It is in finding out these answers that we maybe able to find the root cause of violence.

Sometimes I don't understand the legal system in this country. Instead of asking why those who did the crime did what they did, our system silence them, and let the lawyers talk. Our system seem to focus on 'fact', whether they did it or not and not on their motivations. However, when you deal with people, you deal with their perception, and sometimes, it has little to do with 'facts'.

If it is up to me, I probably asked 'Tookie' - do you pledge that you will not hurt people in the future? And if he is willing to make that pledge, I probably would go to each of the families that 'Tookie' has hurt and ask for forgiveness, just as Christ would have asked for forgiveness. 'Tookie' would have to understand that if the families are unwilling to forgive, then he would have to face the consequences for his actions. But I would do my best to ask for forgivenes and let him go. But then, that's me. The current system does not let me do something like this. I don't understand this execution. Is it to save money? Is it because if you kill, then you must face death? But then not everyone who kill face death in this country.

In the end, how you feel about this issue has more to do with you than with 'Tookie'. I believe in giving people another chance when they messed up, especially if they realize what they did wasn't the best choice, and pledge to improve their lives. Right or wrong, that's me. Yes, the victims are hurt. We can do nothing about the death, however, those who die go back to 'heaven' to join God, so we should rejoice for them. As for the families, of course, they are hurt by the loss. This would be a good opportunity for them to grieve and let go as they know their loved one are back with God. As for the community who is made up of many people, each with their minds, I am on the side of clemency.