Jehonadab, son of Rekab. He watched as an evil king allowed the calculated and efficient slaughter of a man and his lineage. A family tree was wiped out for a plot of land. Jehonadab, son of Rekab. Later, he observed as the heads of the 70 sons of the evil king were deposited into 70 baskets. He even stepped up into the chariot of a man bent on vendetta to get a better view of the rapidly deteriorating events. The lineage of the innocent was taken. And now the same fate befell the lineage of the wicked. It was a day of retribution and a bloody hell of a mess.
Jehonadab, son of Rekab made some observations and moved in strength. He drew his sons near and issued a command. They were to live as nomads apart from cities and centres of power. They would be dwellers of the tent and endure hardship. Jehonadab commanded his sons again. Be free of vice and do not drink what sparkles in the cup. Live in disciplined manner, aloof from greater society; their primary focus became the preservation of their lineage.
Life is a test. Always. So when the sons of Rekab heeded a call to visit with the most famous prophet of the day it was a matter of protocol. Prophet Jeremiah poured wine in their presence and commanded the men to drink. They refused, to the last one of them. They walked in rank and did not betray a code of conduct. And it certainly did not impress them that a “man of God”, a “prophet” asked them to violate an oath. After the interaction, Jeremiah made an observation. The sons of Rekab would survive whatever tumult swept through the nation. They were disciplined, functioned with an unbendable chain of command structure and refused to stoop to the creed of another. They passed a test with flying colours. These men behaved like a platoon of soldiers.
Where are the sons of Rekab today? Where are the soldiers standing in rank protecting the lineage of Pakistan? When a military-sponsored school is attacked, it is a mere prequel. Surely, you understand. One hundred and thirty two innocent children. This is the number of schoolchildren slaughtered at the Army Public School, Peshawar. A total of 148 individuals lost their lives, including the headmistress who was set ablaze. When considering the loss of the children I am drawn towards a greater numerical designation to leave a deeper impression regarding the immensity of this national tragedy.
Average life expectancy for males in Pakistan is 65 years. Assuming a median age of 15 years for the students who lost their lives, we are looking at 6,600 years of lost workforce productivity. Where are the sons of Rekab? They do not exist within the ranks of the politicians. Their cowardice is well known, but in the military? Surely, Pakistan has a few strong sons.
Hate preacher and terrorist Mullah Fazlullah has been around for a long time. I stumbled onto his name in 2006 when news surfaced that he had an affinity for burning down music and video stores or anything with a pixel of entertainment value. The news also filtered out that ‘Mullah Radio’ was putting out hits on barbers. Yes, barbers who trimmed beards were worthy of death. The beard must be grasped with the fist to be the right length. Assassination decrees were also released against little girls who wanted to learn to read and write. So this bearded and turban-clad omnivore was of interest.
I finally lost interest in Maulana Fazlullah when it became apparent that the average Pakistani gave higher allegiance to men considered prophetic than to men serving the greater defence needs of a nation. Years later my own nation awakened to the latest convoluted reality regarding Pakistan. The US military raid on the compound of Osama bin Laden sent a chill down my spine. The man who had a hand in the slaughter of 2,997 innocent civilians dwelt in safety within whistling range of the Pakistan Military Academy. Eight children perished on 9/11 but I imagine had we lost 132 children we would have unleashed our strategic arsenal with greater force. To this day I remain conflicted. Our attackers were the sons of Saudi Arabia, our petro dollar ‘friends’. We chose different targets.
You have lost 132 children. I am greatly saddened by this news. Mullah Fazlullah was allowed to clatter about for too long. The vulture that you bred and fed now feasts on the flesh of your children. Pakistan’s children have become mere carrion. Really, you have to make up your minds once and for all time. Any weapon formed against the state is a weapon that must be destroyed. And when weaponry is turned full force against children, the sons of Pakistan must rise. There is no other choice. And when there is no choice it becomes the stuff of both legend and destiny.
The oath brings allegiance to the chain of command, duty and mission. When the oath crossed my lips it changed the polarity of my heart. Sure, I was still a Christian but now, I belonged to my nation. My highest allegiance was no longer to the values of my Christian community. My loyalty swerved strongly to the needs of my nation. I slowly learned to trust that God was big enough to manage the rest. In fact, my trust in God flowered into maturity as I learned to trust my chain of command. You must trust and obey your chain of command.
I consider preservation of national lineage the highest duty. This is not nationalism. It is basic human decency. If an enclave of Christians chooses to slaughter innocent children, I will not hesitate to heed the call of my nation. It might involve a bit of sorrow to embark on such a task but I, too, am a daughter of chain of command. I belong to the clan of Rekab.
The writer is a freelance journalist and author of the novel Arsenal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org