Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Rest In Peace, Fadel

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"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." - The U.S. Declaration of Independence

I just learned that my friend Fadel passed away. He suffered a stroke, likely brought on by his ongoing lack of proper medication and treatment.

I came to know Fadel as a graduate student of economics at the University of Connecticut where I recently received my Master's degree after a 15-year hiatus. Together there we struggled to learn what I now deem to be a false religion according to which servitude to Mammon and placing one's faith in an imaginal "invisible hand" is purported to bring about social harmony and maximum happiness for all. Fadel's life and death have been a testament to the folly of such a deluded, self-serving perspective.

Fadel was from Sierra Leone, a rather symbolic, small West African nation founded by freed slaves that has been made famous by films like Amistad and Blood Diamond (WATCH | Part 2), both movies I saw with him while he resided in America. (The province of Kenema in Sierra Leone, where Fadel was born and died, is the hub of diamond mining there. Think of how diamonds represent values and "love" in the West!)

Shortly after seeing Blood Diamond, Fadel returned to Sierra Leone in the hopes that he could use his training in developmental economics to help bring his nation back to life after the devastating civil war there. Alas, his vision was to no avail.

Quite frankly, I'm very upset and angered by Fadel's death. He was good soul caught in an all-too evil and unjust world IMHO.

His name literally means "faithful" and I tried my best to be a faithful friend and considered our relationship an ongoing personal trial for me to abide by the Golden Rule of loving and valuing others as myself. Whatever his needs were, I sought to place myself in his position and do for him as I would have wanted done for myself by a friend in my relatively advantaged position. Trying to care for him has been an incredible spiritual and financial challenge in my life and with his passing I'm sorry for failing him, but his seemingly insurmountable predicament and ongoing health problems finally caught up to him in his backward nation where quality medical care is virtually non-existent. He leaves behind his young son Adam, whom he loved dearly and is my namesake.

What I'm most sorry for, however, is the failings of everyone around me here in America where time and time again my efforts to help Fadel were met with cool indifference if not outright contempt by family, friends and fellow church members who couldn't see my reasoning in seeking to support this West African's needs. I was just being used by Fadel in their eyes, or so their self-justification has been for never helping me to help him. What a convenient mindset for those who live in the lap of luxury and material excess!

Apparently, the following passage from Matthew is not taken very seriously here in modern-day America:

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." [Matthew 25:31-46]

As free creatures, you all have had the prerogative to ignore my and others' needs for a helping hand. However, if I am who I believe I am, then your failings are about to met by God's righteous judgment. There's nothing I can do about the consequences of your consistently unreasonable choice to deny God, and each other, love. The historical injustice of inequity and iniquity can not go forever unanswered "by the very nature of man". Is it really so impossible to care and share?

Rest in peace, Fadel, and rest assured the world left behind will not know true peace and freedom until people are led by God's love and truth rather than misled and enslaved by love for Mammon. Man's current faith is misplaced and soon to be tragically upset.

Thus, the truth shall become clear. From a Founding Father of America whose surname I'm proud to share:

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
[John 8:32]

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