This past November I traveled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a guest of the UAE Ambassador of to the United States, His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba. The primary purpose of the trip was to attend the Abu Dhabi Formula I Grand Prix race and finalize details for Major League Soccer club FC Dallas to do some pre-season training in the UAE at the Al Jazira Soccer Club facility. The Al Jazira Soccer Club (the name “Al Jazira” means “The Islands”) is owned by His Highness Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Hahyan who might be better recognized as the principal owner of Manchester City of the English Premier League (EPL). Sheikh Mansour is also the newest investor in the latest franchise in MLS (the New York FC franchise) and has partnered with the New York Yankees on this investment. New York FC is scheduled to begin MLS play in 2015 and will play their home games at Yankee Stadium until a site (preferably in Manhattan) is developed exclusively for the team.
The Abu Dhabi Formula I Grand Prix, and the surrounding activities, is an event on the level of the Super Bowl in the UAE. There were remarkable dinners with entertainment (including budding opera star Vittorio Grigolo) and, for those of us who were not familiar with the UAE, sightseeing. In one day alone (a Friday and the “Sabbath” for all those of a practicing faith) we went to church early in the morning at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, went to a worship service at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (the third largest in the world), went up the Burj Khalifa (the tallest man-made structure in the world), and stayed at the Emirates Palace Hotel – perhaps the peak of all we experienced.
While there was a certain formality yet novelty to many of the things we did on the trip, our focus was on finalizing plans for FC Dallas to visit Abu Dhabi in February 2014 in order to play a series of friendly matches with professional teams and to conduct some of the team’s preseason training in the UAE. Since our visit, the announcement has been made about this first international soccer exchange of its type between an MLS team and the UAE.
As a token of thanks, I presented an NFL football, autographed by Kansas City Chiefs’ running back Jamaal Charles, to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, while at the Formula I Grand Prix race. He is the Deputy Supreme Commander of the armed forces, a leading member of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development which has been developing initiatives to boost youth entrepreneurship in the UAE, and he has donated billions of dollars to charitable causes including research for polio vaccines for children and the UN Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking.
As I came away from my brief time in the UAE, I was struck by the hospitality and the generosity of the people we met. The UAE relies on many different people from a variety of cultural backgrounds and faiths to carry on the work of building a vision for the UAE, and the Hunt family hopes that the visit by FC Dallas of Major League Soccer will build new friendships and business relationships. We certainly look forward to FC Dallas training in the UAE in early February!
This piece was written by my friend, Antonio J. Soave, and is posted here with his permission. My thanks to Antonio for a wonderfully-written piece. – Lamar Hunt Jr.
This past weekend’s March for Life in Washington, D.C. was one of the largest civil rights demonstrations to take place in recent history. With estimates ranging from 500,000 to 750,000, the campaign should have been a force with which to be reckoned. However, it was largely ignored by mainstream media and cast-off as some form of mass hysteria. The fact that we have destroyed over 50 million fetuses since the inception of Roe v. Wade seems to have little to no impact on today’s modern society. Unfortunately, this is another sign of the times – a very disturbing one at that.
It was fitting that the March for Life coincided with the events surrounding Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in America. Dr. King stood for the protection of life and most certainly all life – regardless of race, color and creed. Just as Dr. King said, “I have a dream … ,” so, too, do I have a dream. I have a dream that all life, regardless of size, gender and disposition will be respected and protected by society. I have a dream that humankind will understand the abuse that is being perpetrated as millions upon millions of children are being exterminated. It is most certainly an act of genocide.
What is genocide? According to Merriam-Webster, it is “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group.” In my opinion, the unborn are members of a cultural group, one that is being ignored and spurned. It is a group that has no rights. It is literally an unprotected group in society. Although Merriam-Webster has no official definition of “cultural group,” it is widely defined on the web as follows: “A cultural group is a self-defined group of people who share a commonality of cultural experience.” People who oppose abortion are also members of a “self-defined” group of people who share a common cultural experience related to defending the unborn.
Many on the left of the political spectrum like to note that a fetus is technically not classified as a human being in the first – or perhaps even second – trimester. Yet few would argue that a fetus is more than just an ambiguous living organism in the third trimester. Why is this the case? A fetus can only grow into one thing: a human being. And it happens in a very, very short period of time. A fetus does not grow into a tadpole, although Darwin supporters might like to see that. A fetus does not become a plant or a dog or a car or another mammal such as a dolphin. It becomes a full-fledged human being – nothing more and nothing less. It is the concept of nothing less that affects me.
People protecting the lives of unborn children are doing just that: they are protecting those that cannot protect themselves. They settle for nothing less, and why should they? When millions of babies are being killed, we go about our daily lives as if nothing is wrong. We seem to consider them – the unborn, that is – as something less. Yes, these unborn children are members of a common cultural group – a group that is ‘easy prey’ for those exterminating them.
Many anti-life/pro-abortion activists tell me that they are protecting a woman’s right to choose. I ask this in return: Choose what? Do these women have a right to choose death? Are they fully aware that the organisms in their bodies become actual human beings? Can they conceive of anyone they love having been exterminated in a mother’s womb prior to being given a chance to live? Consider this: Someone you love dearly could have been randomly selected to die in a womb. You would not have known this person today and you would not have been able to love that person. Anyone could have been in that predicament.
As the March of Life was occurring in DC, I was returning from a business trip in Chicago. As I awaited my delayed flight, I happened to catch a bit of CNN. I was surprised that CNN covered the March, albeit slightly and in a distorted fashion. CNN’s coverage was short and not complementary to the pro-lifers. The coverage lasted about 30 seconds before it shifted the discussion to Texas and the supposedly ‘inhumane law’ there that requires women to view or listen to an ultrasound prior to having an abortion. CNN gave this scenario extensive coverage, thereby clearly implying that the preferred stance of CNN was this: support abortion and oppose life. An executive with an abortion clinic in Texas was interviewed by CNN in that report. She complained about Governor Perry and his unfair and overreaching stance that forces women to listen to the very real sounds of the child inside of them. It was as if the abortion clinic executive was the victim.
It makes sense that a woman about to have an abortion would not want to listen to or see the fetus: it would probably make her re-think her action. For if that woman were to really understand that the fetus inside of her was truly alive and would soon become a wonderful new baby, she could hesitate and perhaps change her mind. To listen to and/or view the fetus would bring the fetus to life both visually and acoustically. The fetus would no longer be an antiseptic scientific description, a description that sanitizes, dehumanizes and downgrades the unborn child. Just for reference, Merriam-Webster states the definition of “sanitize” as follows: to make more acceptable by removing unpleasant or undesired features. Is the baby so ‘unpleasant’ that it needs to be removed or killed? Is the dead fetus now ‘more acceptable’ to society? Is the mother better off now that this has occurred?
Liberals like to think of themselves as protectors of the downtrodden and underprivileged, often being described as “bleeding heart liberals.” I wonder why their hearts do not bleed for an unborn child, a child that is truly bleeding when removed from the womb prematurely. I wonder why these bleeding heart activists are not taking to the streets to defend those that are clear victims of systematic murder and extermination. I wonder why they aren’t outraged. Maybe they would be if they knew the truth about living fetuses. Those fetuses are human; they are nothing else. They will not become less human just because we attempt to justify our actions or sanitize our description of the act.
I find it interesting that many of the same folks who oppose the one-child policy in China and often view the policy as ‘barbaric’ are the same people who support abortion in the United States. It must be that abortion looks less attractive in China, especially when we view hopeful parents literally plea for their children’s lives. The mothers of these fetuses are brutalized and, in some cases, beaten and tortured. These women and their unborn children are truly victims, for are they forced to uphold the law – a law that is inhumane, insensitive and immoral. In fact, when we see these images from our U.S. perspective, we condemn China for its violation of human rights. So why don’t we condemn ourselves for human rights violations as well? Is a child any less a child in the U.S. than in China?
I also ask this: If dogs were being aborted inside of their mommy’s stomachs, would these same “bleeding hearts” defend the unborn animal? My contention and belief is that they would defend the unborn animal and they would do so in droves. Yet they wouldn’t dare defend a human fetus or come to its aid. I admit, animal rights are important, but so are the rights of unborn children. At least arguably, the rights of an unborn child should exceed the rights of an unborn animal. In today’s society, I am not sure we see it that way.
Perhaps it is time for a true campaign of civil disobedience, the kind of campaign that may have made Dr. King proud. I believe that he would have supported a sit-in or a demonstration or a march that was designed to defend human life. After all, he was a man of God and a man of the cloth. He truly stood up for others that were being treated as less than human; he even gave his life. How could he have seen this any differently? From what I have heard and read about Dr. King, he had a dream to eradicate racism, not a dream to eradicate life.
In my mind, it is no wonder we have a society in rapid moral and ethical decline. We have become desensitized and sterilized. We are far too busy with our lives, so children have become roadblocks for us. After all, we have important things to do and people to see. We cannot possibly be bothered by these little tikes running around and tugging on us. But, if the kids do come around and are eventually born – despite our attempts to eradicate them, we can just go ahead and outsource them to daycare.
Unfortunately, children have become disposable and dispensable, especially the unborn. At certain times, we seem to more actively, devoutly and fervently defend the rights of animals than we do the rights of children. We disregard the heartbeats and sounds of an unborn child while – at the same time – attempting to defend the civil rights of others around the globe. This is inconsistent and it is an incorrect position. If we defend life then we must defend it from start to finish – from natural inception to natural death. All life is precious.
Many people have turned their attention to the political conventions these past few weeks, where many speeches outlined various positions of both the Democratic and Republican parties. There can be no doubt there is a feverish push to win over voters, because much is at stake. Anyone voting in the presidential election should take the time to become informed about the issues and try to understand where each party stands on these issues.
We live in an age of information in which knowledge would appear to be everything. In the worlds of business and politics (i.e., statesmanship), it seems that those who control the flow of information rule their domain. Hence, political parties put a “spin” on their versions of reality in the hope that individuals will be persuaded to vote for this or that political platform.
However, there is a danger in clinging to a certain kind of knowledge that can separate us from others and make us feel superior to them. There is a self-deception in thinking that we have the world figured out and that we are in control. Knowledge is a good thing, but it needs to be brought into proper perspective. We must use our intellect to understand the world but also consider what it means to be a human being in relation to other human beings. There is a dangerous illusion to believing we have life “well in hand” and can succeed on our own terms. Even the Bible warns of this explicitly by saying, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God, for it is written . . . God catches the wise in their own ruses . . . and again . . . the Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.”
Back in 1973, a gentleman by the name of E. F. Schumacher wrote a book entitled Small is Beautiful that promoted a view of economics that operated “as if people mattered.” One of Schumacher’s principal concerns was that an economic system focused myopically on growth, efficiency, and production without consideration for the moral, spiritual, and genuine economic needs of the individual was a system headed for disaster. While serving on the British Coal Board, he concluded that the traditional view of economics was a kind of religion mostly based on a materialistic view of reality. Instead of loving and valuing people, things like growth, efficiency, and production became foremost in the corporate climate – be they within government, academia, or the corporate world. Schumacher noted that society was approaching a time when the Earth would be under great stress and at the loss of a body of wisdom to actually live by. “In the excitement over the unfolding of his scientific and technical powers, modern man has built a system that mutilates man.”
So if politics puts a “spin” on things (what can we really believe?), economic systems do not value the individual (they are just discarded), and if the materialistic desire to have “things” is at the foremost of peoples’ thinking (and desires), then how do we make sense of the rhetoric and dialog that fills our heads with information and so-called “knowledge”? This is where we seek wisdom and, ultimately, truth. This is where we identify our core values and beliefs that we will act upon for the good of others, not just ourselves. Core values provide an identity and self-worth. They give meaning to life.
Core Value #1: Life is precious, sacred, and valuable. The human being in the womb is not a “potential” human being. It is a human being with “potential.”
Core Value #2: People should be free to worship and practice religious liberty. We are subject to governing authorities, and both church and state can co-exist and be helpful to each other. The problem arises when government begins to trample on these rights of religious liberty and freedom. In the Old Testament, King Darius took away religious freedom from the Jewish people, but the prophet Daniel, a man of wisdom, chose to continue to exercise his freedom to worship. Daniel was punished, but he gained freedom for the Jewish people because of his obedience in putting God first.
Core Value #3: Family. Men and women have been created to come together and form relationships through marriage and have children. Wisdom, the course of history, and even social scientists all agree that marriage between a man and a woman open to the procreation of children is the “basic cell of society.” Alternatives have not worked in the past nor will they in the future.
Core Value #4: Honor the Body. The body is sacred and the use of it for the creation or consumption of things like pornography is harmful to all involved, including the participants, the producers and the spectators/consumers. Pornography is harmful to children, families, and is idolatry. Pornography reduces the human person to being just an object to be consumed and ultimately discarded.
Core Value #5: Parents should be the primary educators and role models for their children. Many parents abdicate their sacred duties to the government to raise their children. The notion that it takes a village to raise a child is wrong-headed. Once again parents, per all the scientific research on hand, are the best way for a child to learn the difference between right and wrong.
Core Value #6: The leaders of our nation are called to defend life and liberty and not be involved in promoting a culture of death.
We must live fully as citizens of this world without letting ourselves be controlled by its spirit of consumption and competition. This is no small task.
Please consider carefully who you vote for this November. Your very freedom may be at stake.
How do we reconcile the recently deceased ”hatchet man” of the Watergate scandal versus the “humble” (and perhaps even holy) man of prison ministry? Who wouldn’t be a skeptic in the face of two different people manifested in one man – a ruthless political operator and a servant of Jesus Christ? What comes between that time of being a ruthless person and living one’s life as a servant of God? The short answer is failure, brokenness, and repentance. Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformer said “it is in our pain and in our brokenness that we come the closest to Christ,” and that is what Chuck Colson (and all the men he helped in prison throughout the world) would also tell you.
Chuck Colson was not at all an “evil genius” as the Associated Press described him in their obituary. He did perform a handful of dirty tricks during the 1968 and 1972 Presidential elections, but so did a lot of other folks, both Democrat and Republican. Besides doing things such as funding false committees and getting Ted Kennedy photographed in a Paris nightclub dancing cheek to cheek with a starlet, Colson did contribute and encourage an unsavory moral climate in the Nixon White House from 1968-1972. However, the tapes of him conversing with Nixon did not provide a lot of hard evidence against Colson so the prosecutors had a problem. What the prosecutors didn’t know was that Colson had embarked on a spiritual journey that would take him to prison with a remarkable plea of “guilty” to the Watergate-related crimes.
Colson left the White House under a cloud of suspicion and attempted to rebuild his life as an attorney. He admitted to having no moral compass during the first 41 years of his life, and when he met with Tom Phillips, CEO of Raytheon in an effort to land some of Raytheon’s legal business, he met a man on fire for Jesus Christ. Now Colson, of course, was a skeptic and thought all of this talk of the Gospel was “pure Pollyanna.” But he read Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, and was thunderstruck by the chapter on pride. Of course the “old ways” were not easily put to rest and, as Colson began to pray and meet with other men about the Gospel, his was still a soul in torment.
But the journey to a changed life had begun, and Chuck Colson went from self-centeredness, self-deception, and self-justification to Christ-centeredness and justification by faith. He was no longer deceiving himself, and the extraordinary proof of that came when Colson, against the advice of his own attorney, plead guilty to the Watergate-related crimes. To plead guilty was a legal oddity and Colson had to find a unique section of the criminal code to do this. The judge accepted his plea and Colson was sentenced to a one-to-three-year prison term. After serving seven months, he was paroled and wrote a bestselling book, Born Again, and founded Prison Fellowship, the Christian ministry that offers prayerful and practical support to those in prison in more than 150 countries worldwide.
For half of his life, Chuck Colson lived with little regard for God and others. For the last half, he gave all his time and attention to God and others. He crossed the bridge to new life with past failures nipping at his heels and a life in disarray. When he finally admitted his wrongdoing, his life changed more than he could have imagined. Chuck heard the “still small voice” of God and not only obeyed it – but also stayed faithful to it. This is the Christian life to which we are all called. God changed this man and used him for good. I wish that we call could be so fortunate.”The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones.” Shakespeare, “Julius Caesar”, Act 3, Scene 2.
At one end of the debate over appropriate and necessary health care reform is Obamacare, which is rather easily characterized as a heavy-handed approach laden with government intervention. It will be a huge challenge for yet another layer of governmental bureaucracy to solve the problems inherent in the health care needs of over 300,000,000 Americans. Consider now that even some in President Obama's party are now having strong regrets over the passage of Obamacare. "I think we would have all been better off – President Obama politically, Democrats in Congress, and the nation would have been better off – if we had dealt first with the financial system and the other related economic issues, and then come back to health care" (Rep. Brad Miller, D-NC).
Besides tort reform, the Republican approach is to put the citizens of the United States, rather than government bureaucrats, in charge of health care. The Republicans have several ideas that are of real substance to achieve this. The first would be to set up more functional "high-risk" pools that would allow individuals with pre-existing conditions to obtain health insurance that would otherwise cost a fortune. Next, extend tax breaks to individuals, affiliated groups, and small businesses so that health insurance can be more easily purchased. This tax break, now only extended generally to larger employers, would dramatically expand coverage to the uninsured. A third idea is to expand the portability of health insurance by allowing cross-state purchase of health insurance. This model has been very effective for lowering the cost of automobile insurance – so why not do the same with health care coverage? The motto here should be "don't fence me in!"
A more hands-off approach includes ideas such as allowing people to escape from Medicaid by providing them with health credits so they can purchase private coverage as necessary. Currently, over half of all doctors will no longer take patients in a program (Medicaid) that has typically addressed poor people. Legislation has been introduced to prohibit insurers from imposing annual or lifetime limits on spending for coverage. This legislation would prohibit insurers from canceling a policy after a person becomes sick. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) will also have severe limits placed on them by Obamacare, and this is clearly a move that will discourage those who want to be more responsible stewards of their health care resources. Government should encourage responsible behavior, not discouraged it. Individuals cherish freedom and the autonomy to make their own decisions whenever possible.
Investing in a new government program is bad business, and will not be fair to those who are willing and able to be responsible citizens – free from dependency on government programs. These alternatives to Obamacare seek to address those individuals who need the help the most, and that is a goal all people of good will can share in. "There will be no meaningful cost control or improvement in health care until we are all cost controllers in our own right" (Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels). All citizens of the United states should be encouraged to strive for the highest levels of personal responsibility and, when they can't, we should all be willing to help those who, through no fault of their own, may well slip through the cracks in the health care system. Let's be creative and build on what we have with health care and not tear it apart at great expense. Otherwise, we risk as a nation not even being able to help those who may need health care the most – the poor and underserved.