Today, at the opening of the 2013 first session of Congress, I heard a four-letter word. It is not unusual to hear it. In this session those legislators gathered with bowed heads echoed it in unison—AMEN. In that so be it chorus, there was no thought that this word dates back to an Egyptian myth a local Theban god, having a ram's head and symbolizing life and fertility, that became the national deity of Egypt, Amen-Ra. Look it up Amen, Amon, Amūn. Tease your friends with a riddle: Name a deity worshipped by the ancient Egyptians whose name is uttered before each session of Congress.
The fact that our leaders bless what it does with a “so be it” Amen even before they pass a law is akin to praising the unknown. The unsettling fact is not just that our religious leaders ritualistically call upon the Almighty as we make our laws so much as it is that we as a people are blind to much of what is being decided. For example, how many of us know that our country has over 1,000 military bases dotting this planet? Moreover, what do we actually know that our 17 intelligence $75 billion dollar agencies do?
Are these Amens voicing approval of undeclared wars and drone assassinations of those on our President’s kill list? Do the Amens, that punctuate our prayers in our local houses of religion, add approval of these actions as consistent with “Blessed are the peacemakers for theirs will be the kingdom of heaven?” Whether believer or doubter should we not be careful to what and when we say Amen?