A Gideon for the times

Ed
Ed Smith
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This isn't a column about the Bible or religion. It's not about sex, either, which leaves only one of the big three. So, with the current state of federal and provincial politics in mind, let me tell you a story from the Bible.
Seems that God wanted this young fellow Gideon to lead his fellow countrymen, the Israelites, in a campaign to drive the invading Midianites out of the country. The Midianites were fond of attacking the Israelites from time to time because they met with little opposition.
Most of the men of fighting age would quite literally take to the hills and hide out until the invaders had finished ruining their crops and driving off their livestock.
Gideon was told to raise up an army of men to do battle against their enemies. He wasn't fussy about the idea at first, but once committed he took to it with a heart and a half. He was so persuasive that before long he had an army of 32,000 men ready to go. The Midianites seemed to be a great many more but OK, says Gideon, no problem, let's have at it!
But the next thing Gideon knew, God was telling him he had far too many soldiers and to get rid of the men who were afraid. OK. Gideon told the men in his army to go home if they were scared.
Lo and behold, 22,000 of them confessed to being frightened out of their loins and straightway departed the premises.
Imagine Gideon's surprise when God said, "You still have too many. Tell your men to drink from the stream and keep only those who dip their hands into the water and lap with their tongues."
Poor Gideon must have swallowed hard several times over when he realized only 300 men had drunk the way God described - 300 men to face the hordes of Midianites.
I seem to remember another man not that long ago with enough charisma, determination and guts to have stepped straight out of the Old Testament. He, too, found his country suffering from the neglect and downright opposition of our then current foes the Harperites.
Danny Williams, like the biblical Gideon, challenged his people to stand up against Harper and demand our rights under the equalization agreement. Harper, in a moment of weakness, agreed - in writing. But not too long after, he came to whatever senses he didn't have and rescinded the agreement.
Williams went into political overdrive. With the vast majority of the Israelites - excuse me, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians behind him, he stood up to the vastly superior federal resources and demanded what was rightfully ours.
He did a similar thing with the oil companies until they agreed to what was a much better contract for the province.
The result was that in the next election, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians rose up in unprecedented numbers to march with their leader and take on any and all who would keep us from what amounted to our birthright. And they backed him completely in his ABC campaign for the next federal election: vote Anything But Conservative.
And so it came to pass that in that election, the people hearkened unto their great leader and tossed every one of the would-be NL Conservative Members of Parliament out on their arses.
And then, after a few brief moments of ecstasy, it happened. People began to realize Newfoundland and Labrador had no elected representative around the federal cabinet table, or even the federal washrooms. People began saying we would be punished by the federal government for what we had done, and they were afraid.
Mr. Williams' army began to dwindle. Worse still, they began to blame him for what they saw as an untenable situation.
"We have followed a false prophet," they cried, "and now we are about to have our asses kicked."
If the premier could have all his supporters from last provincial election day lined up to drink from the Exploits River he'd find a grevious number drinking by sticking their mouths into the water. Unless I miss my guess, he'd send every last one of them home.
Man, we have some paper tigers in this province. You can hear them on Open Line any day of the week.
Of course I listen to Open Line. Great show. Takes the pulse of the electorate, even if that pulse can be rather feeble and fluttering as it is at the moment.
"Now we've gone and done it! We've shut Harper out and now he'll do the same to us! That ABC campaign will come back to haunt us, sure as there's dirt in a dead duck."
Everyone was running and leaping and shouting "Hallelujah" when the money was rolling in and the oil deals were being signed. Now that the potential ill-wind is whistling across the Gulf, people are backing away faster than skittish rabbits from a pack of hungry wolves.
I used to have a good word for Peter McKay, he who was being touted as our possible spokesperson in the midst of Harperites. His scurrilous attack on our premier, however, paints him as a vindictive and cowardly nothing, not worthy to walk in his father's shoes. No wonder what's-her-face dumped him.
Those of you of no religious persuasion may wonder what happened to Gideon and the boys. Well, he had this fantastic idea of putting empty clay jars over lit torches. Then he and his 500 crept in among the Midianites in the dead of night while they were drunk and asleep, broke the jars and started yelling and laying about them like demons.
The Midianites took fright and began killing each other in the confusion. Finally, they all lit out for parts unknown. I don't know what's going to happen to the Harperites in the immediate future.
But I wouldn't write Danny Williams or the province off yet.

Ed Smith lives in Springdale. His e-mail address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Exploits River, Springdale

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  • Max
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Hey, I have a better Analogy. Why not just call Danny another William Wallace fighting for the poor Scottish against the English. News flash there Ed. Gideon was fighting for nationalism - Danny just appeals to it for political points just like every other premier since smallwood. What Danny actually fought harper over was an equalization agreement that could in no way be sold to the rest of the country and still form a national government. In other words he was fighting to get newfoundland a cash payout that was all but impossible in a democratic system with no triple E Senate to balance regional powers. News flash Ed - the only party that is fighting for a triple E senate are the Conservatives and we just showed them didn't we!

  • Max
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    Hey, I have a better Analogy. Why not just call Danny another William Wallace fighting for the poor Scottish against the English. News flash there Ed. Gideon was fighting for nationalism - Danny just appeals to it for political points just like every other premier since smallwood. What Danny actually fought harper over was an equalization agreement that could in no way be sold to the rest of the country and still form a national government. In other words he was fighting to get newfoundland a cash payout that was all but impossible in a democratic system with no triple E Senate to balance regional powers. News flash Ed - the only party that is fighting for a triple E senate are the Conservatives and we just showed them didn't we!