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Imagine. Imagine what this world could be if George W. Bush practiced the Christianity that supposedly guides his every decision.

The House has just passed a bill to cut domestic spending by $39 billion over the next five years and the president is 'eager' to ink it. This is a man who sacrifices not a wink of sleep over the suffering of others. The poor, our elderly, and students will lose entitlement programs that are essential to their lives but mean nothing to an elitist, compassionless president who hands out high-paying jobs to unqualified cronies and tax breaks for the wealthy. His concern is not just for the "haves" but for those who have much more than they could ever possibly need.

If this is what the Christian God whispers in the president's ear, I would be happy to declare myself on the side of agnosticism. Somehow, though, I return to the teachings of my parents, their faith and the message of the New Testament. And that is when I realize the words George Bush hears are his own and Richard Cheney's. This is not the voice of God.

Meanwhile, the cost of the Iraq war has spiraled out of control at one billion a week. That's $251 billion to date. Bush will ask Congress for another $120 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Imagine what this amount of money could do for peace.

Yet, we can only imagine because under the present administration, the reality of a time when there will be no war is far beyond our grasp. 'Stay the course' is an expensive trip. So is 'spreading democracy throughout the Middle East.' Overthrowing a democratically elected theocrat will also have an exorbitant price tag in both human pain and money.

Imagine if the amount we've spent on this senseless war were used for education, healthcare, or to relieve the suffering of those with HIV and AIDS, the Katrina victims, and the poor--not just in the United States--but throughout the world. And understand that as the president requires more and more money for his wars, he will manicure the budgets of programs that sustain our most fragile.
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The cost of war is so much more than dollars.

War bankrupts the heart and soul of those of us who have lost someone we love. Its price demands a heavy toll as we try to fall asleep and when we awaken. It hovers above our heads or slams into our consciousness and affects each minute of our day.

The absence of Marine Lance Cpl. Chase Comley, one of Bush's victims, is forever present.

Imagine if George Bush had never taken the oath of office. We would not be in this quagmire. Chase would have celebrated his 22nd birthday in November. He'd have been with us at Christmas. Our nation's children and grandchildren would not face a future of staggering debt.

We have forfeited so much. Not just my family, but every member of our species loses when someone like George Bush acts on an impulse or belief that a war president is in a position to set his own rules without regard for the devastation of humanity.

Just imagine.
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Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She's written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she's a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a (more...)
 

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