Editorial: April 2012
Sometime ago someone who was angry about the alleged 'corruption' of Mr. Sharad Pawar, the Minister of Agriculture, and his inability to control food prices, slapped him at a public function. All leading figures of the government and the opposition, and various political parties expressed their shock and outrage, and insisted on demanding an increase in the security cover of politicians. They clamoured vociferously for increased security at the expense of the taxpayer. Feeling secure is a high priority in this unsafe, volatile world.
In no other democracy do political VIPs flaunt their security the way it is done in our country. Our politicians cannot do without their gun-toting commandos who form an impenetrable firewall around them. As a matter of fact, they accompany these leaders even to the prisons to which courts occasionally send them! The situation is aggravated by the acute shortage of staff in police control rooms, which delays reaction time to an incident. It is ridiculous when we are told that these people are the most popular, democratically elected leaders.
Sometime back, while dealing with a PIL (Public Interest Litigation), Justice Thakur of the Delhi High Court, in strong words echoed very eloquently what the average citizen feels about the security mania of our politicians, "Politicians are not national assets that need to be protected. You should not let these politicians come out. Their presence in public places threatens the common man. I do not know why it has become a matter of prestige for them to move with 10-15 uniformed security personnel carrying lethal weapons. If they feel a threat to their lives, they should remain in the confines of their homes and offices. It is obnoxious that common men are forced to stay on the sidelines and are prevented to walk on the pavements when the politicians pass. When common men are killed in bomb blasts on the street, and old people are strangulated in their houses, what is the reason for providing individual security to so many leaders?" The futility of this exercise becomes all the more evident when we remember that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own security men.
A really dangerous incident happened some months ago when the Taliban came very close to downing a helicopter in which the British Prime Minister Mr. David Cameron was flying on a visit to Afghanistan. The phlegmatic manner in which he, everyone in the British Parliament and the public viewed the incident is in stark contrast to what is happening in our country. Everyone in Britain took it in his stride. But for a routine question in the British Parliament, the political class went about its usual business, as if nothing happened. Mr. Cameron promptly dismissed any suggestion of increasing the level of his security and said that he would carry on with his usual habit of walking between his official residence at 10, Downing Street, to the House of Commons. It is hoped that this will prove humbling enough for our political leaders.
Despite this scary experience, Mr. Cameron wanted to continue to sit through London's traffic jams, the same way as any other ordinary resident (aam admi). He scoffed at the attempt by the police to scare him. In fact, the first thing he did on taking office was to get rid of the police motorcycle outriders meant to ensure that the Prime Minister's car is able to speed through the traffic.
In January 2011, Ms. Gabrielle Giffords, Democratic Party Representative in the US, was shot in the head while attending a meeting. None of the prominent leaders of the major political parties in the United States made this an excuse for surrounding themselves with security forces. They clarified that the outrage would not prevent them from mingling freely with people. One of them remarked: "If the elected officials make themselves less accessible, then the shooter wins and our democracy will be damaged."
The Psalmist found a 'secret place' where he felt safe. We can rest secure in the same place. The Psalmist says, "He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty" (Psa.91:1). Our security rests on the nature of God. He is the Most High, the all-ruling God. He is the Almighty, the God who saves when man's strength is quite gone. He is the shelter, offering protection, and shadow, offering refreshment. Shadows provide protection from the direct heat of the sun. If the heat is severe, the shade reduces what we actually feel. When we are under God's shadow, we do not face the full heat of our difficulties. He offers not only a dwelling place, but makes Himself our host, and makes us His protected guests. He keeps us safe, because it is His duty to keep us safe. To abide in His presence is to be safe. "Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart; He who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbour, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend; In whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honours those who fear the Lord; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change; He who does not put out his money at usury, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved" (Psa.15).
Our security is grounded on personal faith. We find in Him both refuge and fortress. He gives safety, from danger that threatens, to those who trust. The security offered, covers the snare, pestilence, the fowler. It touches all times, night and day, and all circumstances, all dangers. None of these, however, should be understood as saying that the believer will be untouched by worldly calamities. They are to be understood in the light of Psalm 73, that the believer always possesses a wealth and security in God, unknown to the world.
The fact that the wicked were prosperous was a contradiction of the promise of retributive justice that sin should be punished. His suffering was a contradiction of another promise that the obedient should be rewarded with peace. The inversion of the law of retribution and delay of justice could not be justified by the Psalmist. He was confused by the imponderable contradictions of life. When he entered into the sanctuary of God and fastened his eyes and thoughts upon God, his façade of haughtiness, health and wealth of the wicked faded away, like mist before the rising sun. That the wicked are standing on 'slippery' ground became clear to him. He realised that the wicked had been fooled by a false estimate of their importance, power and security. Their destruction is waiting for them as they are not acceptable to God.
One who has made the Lord his refuge receives God's guidance. God is the strongest protector we could ever have, and we can always turn to Him for help. Nothing can penetrate Him to get to us unless it is a part of His loving plan for our ultimate good. The angels of God open life's pathway for them. The next blessing is victory over every opposition and subtlety. He also receives fellowship with God and the full enjoyment of eternal salvation. The Psalmist was conscious of God's care in the midst of the varied circumstances of life. The man of faith is assured that God will send guardian angels to protect him from plagues and stumbling. Complete trust in God is the only successful antidote for attacks by evil powers. Deliverance is granted to all those who unite wholeheartedly with God's will. The Psalmist draws a metaphor from nature showing the tender concern of a mother hen as she carefully gathers her chicks under her wings. God is soft and tender like a caring mother bird. When troubles rage, He draws us close. We do not need to fear that He will cast us out. We are His.
The relationship is like that of a father and his child. Since God is holding his right hand, he is safely away from the precipice that borders despair. The goodness of God is experienced by the pure in heart. The Lord is our strength. Our Father will be our home, our abiding place. It is not for a moment, but forever.
God's promises are great and are for those who are fully yielded to Him. Prayers will be answered. The wonderful presence of God will be real to them in the midst of trouble. God's servants will be rescued from danger and they will be rewarded with honour and long life. They will have the privilege of seeing God at work in human affairs.
Peter declares that we "by God's power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." Every devout Christian knows that he would not have continued in the faith, but for the unmerited grace of God shown to him in innumerable ways. Judas, Ananias, Demas are examples of those "who have made shipwreck of their faith" by rejecting conscience.
If we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgement (Heb. 10:26-27). It is impossible to restore again to repentance those once enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account.
Jude emphasises towards the end of his brief epistle that God is able to keep us from falling and to present us before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy (Jude 25). No human agency can provide this service. Even as physical resources fail, the Lord is adequate to supply the needed strength and security. Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain (Psa.127:1). True security can be found only in our Lord, who has promised to save us and be near us.