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Right Here, Right Now

Posted: September 4, 2008 7:46 p.m.
Updated: November 6, 2008 5:00 a.m.
 
Staring at the wreckage of the 2008 political process, I wonder how we got into this situation.

On one side, a relative political neophyte with little to no concept of how to lead the most powerful nation on earth is on a ticket with an old Washington liberal. Wait. That describes the other side as well.

How is a good conservative to react? Do we, as Hamlet says, "Take arms against a sea of troubles / And by opposing end them"?

The answer, of course, is no. Americans do not riot in the streets over political choices. We pride ourselves in orderly transitions of power without violence. In other parts of the world, this is not the case.

A missionary friend of mine is visiting from Kenya. Simon Muhota is the pastor of a church located in the Rift Valley that runs the length of eastern Africa.

The church ministers to the people of Kijabe, a small mission station that serves the medical, educational and spiritual needs of the people in central Kenya.

Kenya exploded this year with political violence that is fueled by tribalism and deep-seated hatred. Once a colony of the mighty British Empire, Kenya gained its freedom in 1964. Kenya is a patchwork of 43 tribes, each with its own language and distinct identity. The major tribes are the Luos, the Kalenjins, the Luhyas, and Simon's tribe, the Kikuyus. The Kikuyus represent 22 percent of the nation.

Imagine what our nation would be like if we were that divided. We gain our strength from the fact that we force people into the great "American Melting Pot."

The first president of Kenya, Jomo Kinyatta, was a Kikuyu. Under Kinyatta's rule, the young Kenyan republic grew at a solid rate through the mid-1970s. Daniel Arap Moi, a Kalenjin, was elected president in 1978 and served for 24 years. Kenya continued to grow and change during Moi's long tenure, culminating in the election of Mwai Kibaki in 2002. Kibaki was a member of the Kikuyu tribe. Kibaki recently ran for re-election last December against Raila Odinga, a Luo. Amid charges of election fraud, Kenya exploded into immense tribal violence.

Think back to the election of George Bush and the Florida election debacle of 2004. We made light of "hanging chads" and the seemingly inept handling of the entire situation. However, the Supreme Court ruled and the issue was settled without violence. Agree with the decision or not, our system worked.

In Kenya, mobs of men from various tribes would threaten, beat, rape and murder individuals from other tribes. Children were taken from parents and slain. Families were given sanctuary in neighbors' homes only to be betrayed by to the mobs. Simon and his family were threatened and told to move. He didn't back down. From the pulpit, he declared he would not move and read the threatening letters publicly. He urged members of other tribes who had been threatened to stay put. Kenyans would stand together, affirming the motto "One Kenya, One People."

Simon created a traveling "reconciliation ministry" with other pastors, presenting a message of hope and healing to Kenya. He is organizing a program to gather 5,000 pastors of all tribal origins to a conference that will discuss healing and forgiveness. The problem is that it costs about $9 for a pastor to travel to the conference. Add another $2 to pay for the program and another $5 for food, and these men are looking at $16 total. This is often more than these pastors make in a month. I'm sending five pastors to this conference. Would you consider matching me? Let's put aside our current politics and consider helping another young republic. Please contact Pastor Muhota at skingdomcome@yahoo.com, or me at slunetta@yahoo.com, for more information.

Steve Lunetta is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Right About Now" runs Fridays in The Signal and rotates among local Republican writers.

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