Article Overview:    What would Jesus say about wearing ashes on your forehead to represent His death?  Would he suggest that we include the ashes of all those who have suffered to protect the innocent, and not just single Him out?    Find out.


Wednesday, February 25, 2004—Ground Zero Plus 896
Ash Wednesday--The Sign Of Sentinels of Vigilance

Cliff McKenzie

         GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Feb 25, 2004 -- Throughout the world, every religion has some form of atonement, some ritual of admitting the failure of the human quest for perfection.  Ash Wednesday is one of those days.

Ash Wednesday is a day of 'self inventory'

         It is about admitting our hubris, our fatal flaws as human beings versus the perfection of gods or God who are, by their nature, flawless.  Those who wear ashes on their foreheads today are reminding themselves and the world they aren't "God," but mere mortals who trip and fall and get up and trip and fall.

Atonement for Oedipus was self inflicted blindness

           The ancient Greeks wrote many plays about the human being trying to "play God," and the price one paid for it.   The atonement for such "sins" was brutal--in Oedipus' case, he stabbed out his eyes and wandered blindly.
            Shakespeare's plays reveal the false quest of humans to abuse their power and transcend their frailties, only to fumble and fall from grace and wallow in the quagmire of human frailty as illustrated in MacBeth or King Leer.
             Today, Ash Wednesday, is when one-third of the world's 6 billion population, will start the process of atoning for their sins.   These Christians will, if they follow the tenants of Christianity, seek forgiveness through sacrifice.    And, they will smear ashes on their foreheads as a symbol of their mortality, a reminder that from the dust they came and unto the dust they will return.   They will sacrifice their right to "be God" by disenfranchising their egos from the goal of immortality.

             While Ash Wednesday launches a long road toward the absolution for sins, such traditional ceremonies aren't the privy of Christianity.   Yom Kipper, in the Jewish tradition, is about atoning for one's sins.   It is about finding ways to improve upon character defects while admitting one's fallibility.
             Native American Indians call upon the Great Spirit to "give them strength" and to make them accountable for any violations to nature or others.    They must ask permission to kill creatures for food, a form of respect given to the harmony of all things that are connected, and, when failing to do so, must repair the damage through atonement.
              In "real life" we face the same process of "paying for our sins."   The expression, "He who lives by the sword dies by the sword," means what it says.   Another expression:  "You get back what you sow," implies if you are mean and cruel and selfish to others you'll bet back the same in kind.
              Redemption.  Resurrection.   Renewal.   Rebirth.  Renovation.    These are some of the countless words that suggest the evolving human being must take time out to measure his or her moral character.    In other words, at some point human beings need to check their selflessness against their selfishness; they must gauge the degree of taking from others versus giving back.
              This can be as easy as counting the number of times one says "Please," or "Thank You," in a day, for those simple words, "Please" and "Thank You" only suggest an awareness that gifts are given and taken, and that you recognizing their fluidity.

A global view of Ash Wednesday is that ashes on the foreheads are symbolic of all...

...who have ever sacrificed their lives for others

               Ash Wednesday is also a day to remember those who "died for us."   Christians might argue that putting ashes on their forehead is solely to remind themselves that Jesus died "for all our sins," but a more global view would include that ashes on the foreheads are symbolic of all who have ever sacrificed their lives for others.
                 It is doubtful if Jesus were the loving, selfless incarnation of God, that he would singularly take credit for his suffering and elevate it above all others who gave their lives for their families, friends, nations.
                 Throughout history are pages of sufferings humans have endured in defense of their beliefs.    Human beings have given their lives for others since the dawn of time.  
                 Take the mother who suffers through a terrible, brutal relationship to protect her children's welfare.   She endures the suffering to buffer her children.   She "dies" many deaths so others may live.
                    Should we wear her ashes of "sacrifice" when we honor the death of Jesus?            

Did those who died on Nine Eleven sacrifice their lives for others?

                   What about those who died in the attacks of September 11, 2001?   Did they sacrifice their lives for others?    Was their death a symbol not unlike the crucifixion of Christ?   Did they suffer so others might live free of Terrorism?
                    Does anyone who sacrifices himself or herself for others deserve some degree of recognition equal to but not greater than what more than 2 billion Christians will offer Jesus today?
                     Again, it would appear that Jesus would be slightly embarrassed to accept all the accolades for His suffering, when he was aware of how many suffered greater or lesser degrees of mortal pain for others throughout time.
                      I suspect Jesus would want to mix the ashes of all who gave themselves for others.
                      He might call these people, Sentinels of Vigilance.   He might say these people died fighting the Beast of Terror, and that their Courage, Conviction and Right Actions that benefited the Children's Children's Children was the highest level of service to their humanity.

A Family of Vigilance

       Giving one's self to protect the rights of others, especially the innocent, and the future children, must be a great gift.
         I wonder if the ashes worn on Ash Wednesday are reminders of our need to become Sentinels of Vigilance, Parents of Vigilance, Citizens of Vigilance--people willing to face the Beast of Terror and protect the innocent from his wrath?
        I will see those wearing the ashes today as Pledges of Vigilance.  They will be, as Jesus was, Sentinels not Victims of Vigilance.

Feb 24--Super Tuesday - A Day To Vote Against Terrorism

Some Highlighted Stories From Last Year

Dec 31 Bush's New Year's Message:  Era Of Vigilance
Dec. 30
Walking The Path Of Terror: The 839th Day

Dec 29 Terrorism's New Year's Ball
Dec 27-28
Indiscriminate Terrorism:  Mother Nature's WMD
Dec. 26
The Beast Attacks Like The Mad Cow Disease
Dec 25
Learn The Secrets Of Vigilance On Christmas Day
Dec 24
Eve Of The Youngest Sentinels Of Vigilance Part V of V
Dec 23
Parable Of The Ant & The Leaf: The Third Secret Of Vigilance
Part IV of V from the Legends Of Christmas Vigilance
Dec 22
 Part III of V:  How Rock Candy Banished Darkness From The Land Of Vigilance
Dec 21
Part II of V:  The First Secret Of Vigilance
Dec. 20
Part I of V--The Legend Of Christmas Vigilance.
Dec. 19
What Do Michael Jackson & Saddam Hussein Have In Common?
Dec. 18
Torturing Saddam In The Zoo Of Vigilance
Dec 17
Interview With Saddam In His Iraqi Rat Hole
Dec 16
New Drug Fights Teenage Beast Of Terror
Dec 15 Capturing Weapons Of Mass Destruction:  Saddam Hussein

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