Some two years back, I wrote an article posted by the Nigeriaworld website in which I first propounded my theory that America has to be the New Canaan. I was able to say that regardless of my conviction as a born again Christian who also believes that God or the Bible does not lie. But do God’s words and commands need any more clarification on His exact words as quoted in the Bible? I have to say “yes” because that is what Bishops, Pastors and Television evangelists all over the world do all the time. The exact words uttered by El Shaddai, Jihovah Rama, Jihovah Jirreh, in giving the command are often articulated and dissected to the minutest detail by pastors explaining what was intended? All I am doing in this article is precisely the same thing.
My quick answer to whether or not God’s words can be expanded to clearly bring out the intended meaning to inexperienced believers some of us, will be a resounding “Yes.” Why? Because either the Bible or the Koran have become the most complex Books ever written that all human generations from Adam and Eve, to our own generations, have never fully dissected or distilled to the extent that, there will no more be need for the kinds of analysis, amplification and interpretations we often hear from the pulpit in Church Services and from Jumat Services around the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days in a year. This observation is even more apposite in Islamic teaching where the interpreter often put their own bias and coloration to what the Chief imam or the Alfa is saying. They do that when they interject “Amin, Kum Faya Kum” even when the Chief Imam or the Alfa never explicitly added that peroration.
If you accept that theory or reasoning, you have to see why a small fry like me often argue within myself, and volunteer my own interpretation that the current State of Israel and the Middle East Region, in general, has to be seen as the old Canaan. Just like we have the old Testament in the Bible, we also have the New Testament. The New Canaan, given today’s reality in Israel and the surrounding region, has to be somewhere other than the current geographical expression called Palestine and the Small State of Israel which was carved out from the Palestine in 1948 following the Berlin Conference.
The Promised Land was supposed to be a land of peace and Security, and a land flowing with milk and Honey, so to speak, and a shining City on the Hill among others. I personally don’t see the current Palestine or even the entire Region including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, plus the old Persian or Babylonia Empire meeting the profile that God had intended for the “Promised Land” that he would not allow Moses to reach, because Moses had disobeyed Him. Those countries, taken together, might have been great Empires and Civilizations in centuries gone by, but not any more. Their only saving grace today is the abundance of underground crude Oil in some of those countries. Their weather is so hot and inclement that their air conditioners make more noise than they cool the air I once flew Swiss Air to Jeddah the commercial center of Saudi Arabia. Getting out of the air-conditioned plane to get down the plane was like going into a hot water from the first rush of Saudi Air that welcome you to that country. I cannot, for the life of me, believe how anyone could live in that kind of heat all year round? That is just the weather. Their history is riddled in endless Wars and bloodshed without end like we see in Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and Iran and the State of Israel herself. While it is true that the three great religions of the World namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have all traced their origin to that region for some reason, there is very little, beyond that, to really write home about. If you call them the old Canaan for that reason, you will certainly have my vote. You will have a hard time persuading me to accept that arid Region as the Promised Land.
I have a friend who will always tease me, and tell me that only the spiritual ones and not academics like me are supposed to dabble into that kind of spiritual debate. She always argues that if I am spiritual enough I should just accept what the Bible has said without any amplification. My good friend is so much in to the Bible that if she has a headache or stomach upset, rather go for some medications, she runs for her Bible as a kind of shield or armor. She goes around her house with the Bible wrapped around the part of her body where she is hurting. She believes that kind of gesture and demonstration of faith will heal her faster. There is nothing you say to her that can get her out of that mindset. As a matter of fact, if you still value her friendship, you’d be better off not talking to her on that. But the truth is that the gesture has now become a permanent habit of hers, making me wonder if the gesture is actually giving her the healing she seeks or if she is just engaged in self delusion.
I have had cause to argue with the friend that I could not accept the theory that it took the Israelites more than forty years to cross from their land of bondage in Egypt to the promised land, next door in old Canaan, even though I knew the Israelites were either trekking or riding on camels which is even slower. I have traveled extensively in that Region and most especially in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine and also in the state of Israel. I cannot think of a journey that will take forty years to complete. I hold the belief the new Canaan has to be some far away land that will take years to cross to, especially at a time, when modern forms of transportation like the motor vehicle, the train, the ocean liners, and air planes did not exist. That awareness or rationalization, to my mind, is giving more credence to the fact that the new Canaan may, in fact, be God’s own country.
This article is all about my reasons for feeling that way. I could be wrong, but I still would not shy away from sharing my thoughts with anyone who may care to listen. There is something about America that keeps me thinking all the time. I can see that people born here hardly ever spare a moment to reflect on their luck for being born here. Not all those who came to America either on the Slave or Pilgrim ships across the oceans might have, seriously, pondered and believed that there was something positively good in the fact that they could today look back on their past, and still have thank God for bringing them to these shores at the time they did. I am not unmindful of the untold deprivations and serious physical and emotional torture heir ancestors might have endured in coming to America. But if the end must justify the means, perhaps we can say today that their sufferings and those of their parents have not gone down in vain. I am saying this as an African from a foreign land who has seen conditions elsewhere around the African continent and in my own country before coming here in search of the golden fleece in my new home away from home in the United States. I therefore see myself in some vantage position to compare and contrast the situation we have met here with the one we had come from. Even though, some people will tell you there is nothing better than home, my cumulative experience has shown me there can be a few places arguably better than home, and the new Canaan is decidedly one of them, if you ask for my honest opinion.
I know many E-mail tigers in my country who may think it is “infra dignitate” (below our dignity) for any of us to even suggest that our own country is inferior in any way to America, and who may go all out to start calling me names for daring to express this kind of opinion on the Internet. I say they are wrong. I am sharing this information which is a fact anyway, not just to disparage my country or sell out, but to see what useful lessons or information any of us can take away from it. When you are in Rome, you must behave like a Roman. We are lucky to be living in a country that seriously cherish Openness, Transparency in Government, and Freedom of Expression and Association like a Religion, and encourages other countries to do the same. You cannot live in such a country, and not pick up one or two traits that have made the country unique. Most of us feel free to write and speak up, on any issue today, only because we are in America. Such Freedom is not guaranteed in our own country regardless of what our Constitution may say.
Can you believe a State Governor like Ngige who is supposed to be the Chief Security Officer of a State in Nigeria can be forced to go into hiding for days, for fear of being kidnapped assassinated by Law Enforcement agents that are hired and paid to protect him, to begin with? All that is happening in our country as we speak, with our Lord of the Manor, Mr. President suffering and smiling and pleading total helplessness. Sharing or merely information or an opinion is considered a crime in some parts of our country. We are able to write some of what we write in this country only because we are protected by the Law in new Canaan. You do that in Nigeria you are bound to share Orlando Owoh’s experience in Kalakuta Republic at Alagbon. Uncle Bola Ige, Nigeria’s erstwhile Chief Law Enforcement officer of the land, was on November 23rd, in 2001, murdered in cold blood with all his Security details going out to eat at the same time and leaving their boss at the mercy of his wicked assailants. His first son has had to run away from the country after losing both parents, because he knew he was next in line to share the same fate. It is all a part of our own brand of Democracy in Nigeria. Armed robbers will write to inform you they are coming to your house, and they will be there without fail because we are totally defenseless. The more I compare the situation in our own back yard in Nigeria, the more I see a reason to view America as the new Canaan.
Does that then mean that America has suddenly become the Eldorado of the World that sees no evil, and talks no evil? Far from it. I will be the first to admit that America is not at all perfect, and I cannot think of any country or place that can be said to be perfect. The only place we are told is perfect is the Kingdom of God itself or Paradise or what the Muslims call “Alujanah” Please forgive my poor spelling. Since nobody has gone there and come back to tell the story, I have to say the notion of Paradise is all speculation and wishful thinking at best.
I even become more suspicious of all the noise being made about the need for all of us “to seek first the Kingdom of God, and all other things shall be added unto you” if that were so, how come the first order of business for all mortals is self preservation, the urge to want to live by all means. None of us wants to die, and we all go to great length to ensure we do not. I don’t care who you are. You could be the Holy father, the Pope or the smallest or the poorest among us, we all dodge the bullet when it comes to dying. And yet we all know we all cannot go to Paradise or Alujanah, unless we first change mortality. If Paradise is really as alluring and as attractive as we are being told, at least the poor and the terribly miserable ones among us on Earth, who have no reason to continue to live in this world, ought to be among first volunteers to want to get a respite in Alujanah. The point I am making is that Paradise and Alujanah may be nothing but imaginary contraptions anchored on religious fanaticism just make people feel more positive about life after death.
The closest I believe you can get to the imaginary treasures and creature comforts of Paradise is to come over to America where you can pinpoint individuals that are already living in Paradise in many parts of America from coast to coast, and from sea to shining sea. You go to Holly Wood or you go to Greenwich Connecticut, or Waikiki Island in Hawai or some of the exotic places in America where the rich and the powerful live across the country, you will realize that America or some parts of the country are clearly Paradise on Earth, if you get my point. This has to be the new Canaan without any doubt. You can take it or leave it. But this is only a tip of the iceberg. There are more reasons to consider America a breed apart among nations, and that is precisely what the rest of this article is about.
Now let me return, for a moment, to the characterization of the Jews as “the Chosen People and the Elect of God” and what America as the New Canaan has done, and has been doing to validate that time honored statement. As a proud alumnus of Yeshiva Jewish University of New York, I do know something about the Jews and their history that makes my heart beat with excitement. There is no race on Earth that have been persecuted more than the Jews, and you will never meet a race that is more closely knit, more resourceful and more resilient and religious than the Jews. That is not to say that all Jews are the same or that every reader will necessarily share this view. The Jews are a great race, and their history, their faith in Religion and their God-given Destiny and evolution have made them so, from time immemorial. When you talk of the Word “Diaspora” no race deserves that accolade more than the Jews from all I know. Why? Because the Jews are all spread through out the whole of Europe, and specially North Africa and much of the East Asia and the Pacific Region going as far as Australia and New Zealand. They are found everywhere.
They were persecuted by Adolph Hitler in Germany, and killed in millions. Some of them escaped to countries like Poland and all of the 15 Russian Republics before the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Many of them who were forced by circumstances beyond their control, to go back to Palestine after the Second World War also faced persecution from the Arabs and Palestinians alike, and they all had to seek refuge in Britain, and France in particular and other countries like Iran, iraq and Turkey. It was the same story of woe they all had to endure before the Berlin Conference led by the Allied Forces with America leading the way, had taken the decision to carve out from Palestine what is today called the State of Israel just to provide them a home land after so many years in Diaspora. There are Palestinians and Arabs especially in the Middle East who may not share these sentiments, and they are probably justified to say that as well. We have here a case of 3 million Jews at one point fighting for survival against 150 million Arabs. That is a terrible situation for any people to be in.
When the Jews had faced persecution and more persecutions in Europe and the Soviet Union, it was America that was finally able to offer majority of them a safe haven to live in peace and freedom and to practice their Faith and Religion as their own unique identity as a people. America was therefore one of the instruments that God had used to uphold the Jews through out their epic struggle around the world is the point I am making.
Some of you might be surprised today to know that Israel has become probably the only country on Earth to have more of her citizens living abroad, than those that live at home. There is no less than 7 to 8 million Jews today living in America alone, whereas their total population at home is probably much less than 5 million at conservative estimate. There are more than 3 million in the Empire State alone, where the Jews have constituted a powerful block and interest group that any New York Politician would be foolhardy to ignore. The Jews have owned much of the Real Estate jewel of New York City which has become the Real Estate Capital as well as the Financial Capital of the world without any question. Much of those wealth are in the hands of the Jews. The Jews are doing a lot better in the new Canaan, than they are doing in old Canaan. the Jews dominate Hollywood and Silicon Valley and most of industrial centers of American economy. America has become the big fig tree that offers limitless canopies to all peoples of the World without exception. She has become the microcosm of the World in a nutshell. In that unique sense, we are all Americans, especially in this age of globalization and Information Super High Way when the world has become one global village where you can reach any part of the world using the Cellular wireless phone in a heartbeat.
The global War on Terrorism has even made America more so. The World needs America today as much as America needs the World. The Terrorist attack on 9/11 has conclusively proved to the world no country in the World is now immune to Terrorism. If America can be hit and brought down to her knees, all be it, for a short time, so can any other country. One country has to coordinate and lead that effort, and the only country on Earth that can do it, today, is the new Canaan and no one else. How America goes about playing that role is the only point that is now debatable. Does America play that role by becoming the only bully in the Block or by working with others to build needed consensus. If you ask me, that is one of the major questions among others, that the 2004 Presidential Election is going to be all about.
America is today leading the world in all spheres of endeavor. If you are talking of Peace and Security around the World, she is number one. If you are talking of Military and Financial Power it is also number one. if you are talking of Educational Power and Scientific Breakthrough, it is also number one. If you are a Thomas Dedimus, I ask you to go check the percentage of Americans winning the Nobel Peace Awards from one Year to another. America today has a total of 284 million population. Even though you still have a few people going into the trash Can and Garbage Dump to look for food, America still remains the shining City on the Hill where, if you qualify you can still go get food stamps to sustain you, and if you do not qualify, there are hundreds of Soup Kitchens in most big cities you can go find some food to eat. You can also go to many of the Thrift Shops in all major and medium size cities across the nation, where you can still find cheap clothing at affordable prices. If you lack heat in your apartment in the winter time, or you are homeless, there are Homeless Shelters that are willing to accommodate you, if you knock on their doors The terribly poor are still able to coexist with the filthy rich in most Societies and communities in America. It is a great experiment in Democratic system of Government around the World. President Harry Truman had once said, that Democratic System, even though it might not be the best system of Government, but nothing better has been improvised or crafted anywhere else in the whole wide world. And what is important is that the new Canaan is not taking her glory and achievements for granted, or sitting on the fence. It is daily making effort to make her good better and her good best. That is the key to the promised land.
In the early 70, and fired up by one of the greatest enabler and ennobler President of this Century, the new Canaan was challenged by his youngest President in history to join in the Race for Space Exploration where American closest rival, at the time, the Soviet Union was clearly ahead of the new Canaan by more than six years at least. The Nation had taken to heart the President’s challenge, and had gone down to business with iron determination. In eight short years America had not only landed the first man on the Moon in Neil Armstrong, it has beaten the Soviet Union to second position for good. It was an amazing and a virtuoso performance. The new Canaan had gone ahead to seal that triumph of the Human Spirit by again winning the Cold War when the Soviet Union had totally fallen apart in 1991, bringing a new influx of Russians and Russian Jews in their millions not to talk of millions from Poland and other Russian Republics and European and African and Asian immigrants from all over the world. Americans love a winner, and so is the whole world. America has become the promised land for all.
The new Canaan is today way ahead of Russia in Space Exploration. You can now count the Moon as one of the colonies of America where the Star Spangled Banner has been flying for more than 30 years. And with he landing of the Rover in Mars less than two weeks ago with the entire world watching in admiration and amazement, the red Planet is on right on her way to joining the League of American Colonies as we speak. If God ever wants to designate a country as the promised land, that country has to be America It is not an accident that America is the only country on earth to put “In God we trust” in her national Currency, and to set one day apart in a year for National Thanksgiving. That is remarkable to me.
To be sure the Old Testament has dovetailed into the New Testament, without any iota of doubt, is the reason why the small State of Israel has more or less become the 51st state in the new Canaan. That is the old yielding place to new, if you still have any doubt in your mind. The new and the old Canaan have therefore become two sides of the same coin, if you ask me.
I rest my case.