Sunday, August 06, 2006  

Charity has to begin somewhere...

Hezbollah paid for his wife’s Caesarean section. It brought olive oil, sugar and nuts when he lost his job and even covered the cost of an operation on his broken nose.

(the rest )

This is one of the reasons Hezbollah is so popular. Charity which affords a level of dignity. For some reason the West and Lebanon were unable or unwilling to learn from the example of the FIS in Algeria who used assistance to buy popular good will on their rise to power.

This is hardly new. Missionaries knew that to convert a population, you would be more successful if you help them out rather than harrangue them over how they were going to hell if they didn't get with the program.

Unfortunately, this level of charity is the flip side of a state derelict in its duty towards its citizens. And therein lies a message to those who would create/like to see moderate states in the Middle East, and the message is this:

- assist the people
- provide basic civic services in a timely manner
- give the people a voice
- don't stand in the way of democratic movements

This seems rather simplistic, I know, but time after time, it has been shown that religious institutions step into the void left by the State and the upper classes. These institutions are driven by a religiously-inspired desire and obligation to help, but some also have political aspirations and eventually reach into the social and political fabric.

Many people who wouldn't normally walk the path of the religious self-righteous do so because their faith and belief in the State has been so shaken and their personally needs are so great.

Maybe instead of training the Lebanese Army (what a concept! Such a brilliant move in Iraq- just telegraphs- hi! we think martial law and military coups are just dandy- thanks! F-ing morons...), maybe the US needs to get together with a few semi-moderate Middle Eastern states and acceptable European allies(and by acceptable, I mean to Lebanon) and work on providing re-building money, State assistance programs and NGO's that will be able to step into the enormous breach that will be horrifically apparent after the attacks stop.

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