Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Down by the river side

Part of me wants to remember the dead today, and the living; and show them the respect they are due. Part of me wants to scream at the "leaders" responsible for this travesty: both the cause of the occasion, and the "remembrance." The two sides are obviously at war today; both are losing.

It has upset me more than I realized. I'm not disturbed by ABC's stupid little "docudrama" of "fiction based on real events." I'm more upset at the leadership that is still in place, that says stupid things like this:

"This struggle has been called a clash of civilizations," the president was to say. "In truth it is a struggle for civilization." He said the United States was standing with democratic leaders and reformers, offering a path away from radicalism.
Or like this:

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Monday, "Five years later, we have to continue to move forward with unity, urgency and in the spirit of international cooperation, because we are not yet fully healed and not yet as safe as we should be."
I agree, instead, with Lee Hamilton, and I note he is retired, not an officeholder: "Where in the world have we been for five years?" I don't know. But I know where my thoughts were five years ago, and a thousand miles or more away from New York City. I couldn't watch from a rooftop. I could only watch on TV. I found what I thought, then, and it's something of a time capsule for me to close this day with:

Under a clear blue sky, it is impossible to imagine what life is like right now in New York City or Washington, D.C. But everyone talks about it. There is nothing else on the news. No one yet knows who did it, but someone tells me: “I’m the kind of person who thinks, find out who did it, and then they’re gone. Get rid of them!” And I think to myself: That’s what led to this. The cycle as old as Moses, reaching out from the land of Abraham. But it’s a human response. What more can we expect?

“You have heard that they were told ‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.’ But what I tell you is this: Do not resist those who wrong you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn and offer him the other also. You have heard that they were told, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But what I tell you is this: Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors; only so can you be children of your heavenly Father, who causes the sun to rise on good and bad alike….” (Matthew 5:38-39, 43-45).

The Mayor of New York City says no one knows how many are dead, but it will be “more than any of us can bear.” Indeed. More victims of a cycle older than the law of Moses: “But where injury ensues, you are to give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, bruise for bruise, wound for wound.” (Exodus 21:23-25). My copy of Matthew includes a note that: “Though this principle controlled retaliation in primitive society, it did not justify it.” Indeed.

More than any of us can bear. But it is still the rationale for all the violence that sweeps out across the world, that turns cities into disaster areas, children into orphans, husbands and wives to widows and widowers. How much more violence does our world need?

We try to put the burden back on someone else. But we should simply give it to God. Instead of anger, we should pray for peace. The prayer that follows is from our Hymnal. It is a prayer for us, for the victim’s families, for the world. Pray it in your home, with your family, even in spirit with the whole family of God. Share your burden. It is more than any of us can bear.

No comments:

Post a Comment