Thursday, January 31, 2008

THE CORNER WE'VE TURNED

Even as Kenya errupts in a convulsion of ethnic violence and the wars and suicide bombings in Afghanistan and Iraq continue, each snuffed-out life cries out in testimony. I make this reflection out of my appreciation Gil Baillie's Violence Unveiled and my confidence that nonviolence is the certain path into a grace-full future.

We've turned a corner
from which we can't retreat:
We've seen ourselves and
all other human beings
as individuals, each with
infinite soul and worth.

What Jesus opened up and
the Enlightenment recovered
cannot now be put back
in the box for the sake of
countering chaos or controlling
this unruly leader or that
unwieldy populace.

You are as important as me.
They are as valuable as we.
Though some try not to believe,
self-evident truth reveals
the image of the Creator
stamped on us all.

Still, armies amass and weapons
strike with a surgical precision
that nonetheless snuff out
the individual lives of suspected
and unsuspecting alike.

War is a relic of antiquity,
a hold-over from an age
when all were expendable
for the sake of the whole,
when the victor's ballad
was written in the blood of
friend and foe, a symphony
soured by its disregard
for the value of one.

When one mattered less
as one, when one mattered
more as a thing, a tool, a pawn--
however patriotically proclaimed--
war could be waged eye for eye
and tooth for tooth.

But the Cross closed that chapter
and Resurrection opened the next--
when one suffered for all and
redeemed the life of even one,
when one life burst forth with
love to grace every last one.

And each life was lifted beyond
the pale of mere existence;
the simplest, the lowest, the basest
was exalted and restored--
never to be cast aside or
undistinguished in the masses.

And even though we demand
blood vengeance in the face
of our own losses, vengeance
no longer satisfies the heart;
though justice be done, justice
no longer is served.

In our killing, we surely
poison our own souls; living,
we slowly die by our own sword.
Our warring seeds the earth
with a billion broken particles
that cry out each to God.

But God would hear--
and will surely respond--
if but one in a billion
called out to heaven.
It is in one and for one
God turns the universe.

Dare we lay our weapons down
while others still breathe
a deathly past? Unless we do,
we shall not live the future
into which we are drawn,
nor make it possible for others.

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