Friday, January 9, 2009

THE CORNER WE'VE TURNED

Once again, "justifiable" retaliatory violence vainly imposes its deathly will

NEW SITUATION, OLD STORY. Last January, Kenya erupted in a convulsion of ethnic violence. This January, Israel attempts to quash--"once and for all"--rocket attacks launched by Hamas from Gaza. Never mind that hundreds of innocents have perished. And the wars and suicide bombings in Afghanistan and Iraq continue with no end in sight. Each snuffed-out life cries out in testimony. I share the following reflection out of my appreciation Gil Baillie's book Violence Unveiled and in 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 stuffed 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
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 again
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.

In the spirit of dialog, I welcome comments and/or questions. Click on "responses" below to post. They're moderated only to reduce incivility. Shalom!

1 comment:

  1. I have connected/linked/copied your blog post. I listed it at mine, citing that you had given permission a few seconds ago . . . but I have not yet received that permission of course. Can I have permission to use your work as I have done at www.eupan.blogspot.com?

    ReplyDelete

Your tasteful comments and/or questions are welcome. Posts are moderated only to reduce a few instances of incivility.