"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Monday, May 10, 2004 They say that what you mock
Will surely overtake you
And you become a monster
So the monster will not break you
I was reading David's blog (yes, David, I read your blog!) and he was writing about the prisoner abuses in Iraq and how it sickened him on so many levels. Really, how can you argue with that. There is nothing about it that isn't sickening.
But there's a couple things about this.
The quote above is from "Peace on Earth" by U2. What is happening with these prisoner abuses is that we have evidence of what, frankly, anybody who has been paying attention knows has been going on already. In the name of fighting people who are bent on committing atrocities against us, we commit atrocities of our own. We become the monster, so the monster will not break us.
Except it doesn't work. The biggest problem with the prisoner abuses, and with the whole war, is not that we are killing people, maiming people and not respecting their human dignity -- though that stuff is really, really bad -- it's that it perpetuates a cycle that will continue to create more and more of the same until someone has the courage and the sanity to say "STOP!" "ENOUGH!"
And it's already gone too far
Who said that if you go in hard, you won't get hurt?
Jesus, can you take the time
To throw a drowning man a line?
Peace on Earth
Tell the ones who hear no sound
Whose sons are living in the ground
Peace on Earth
No whos or whys
No one cries, like a mother cries
For peace on Earth
She never got to say goodbye
To see the colour in his eyes
Now he's in the dirt
Peace on Earth
The problem isn't the abuses ... it's the idea that the abuses are wrong but somehow wars where children (combatant and noncombatant) die are OK. Really, the abuses shouldn't surprise us ... once a nation has already decided that war in the name of peace, that abuse in the name of safety, that these things are OK ... it's just a matter of where you draw the line when you wake up each morning -- and some mornings the line is drawn further out than others.
But here's the thing, and here's the hope.
Even though we act like some third-rate military dictatorship a lot of the time, we're not. And the difference is that these things are coming out, they're being made public and people are horrified by them and there is talk of prosecuting people and there is a common belief that this is wrong and this is not what we should be about.
The hope is that people are good. And when good people see terrible truths, when they see wrongs committed, they want to make things right. People see the sickening pictures coming out of the prisons and they want it to stop, they want to make things right. That's why it's so important to let people see the flag-draped coffins coming off the airplanes. That's why it's so important that people see the devastation caused by our bombs to Iraqi civilians. That's why that Nightline program was so important. Because people are good ... and good people when exposed to the truth in ways so plain that they cannot ignore it will cry out for justice and true peace.
America is the hope of the world. Not the American Empire of the neocons, but the idea of America. And that's what America really is. It's not a country ... it's an idea. And, thank God, the idea is far more powerful than the country. Because the country gets it wrong all the time. All men are created equal? That's an amazing idea. And even when we don't act that way (or forget that women are, too), we've got the idea to remind us who we are.
I'm sickened by the pictures, too. But I want all of them to come out and I want them on every TV and in every newspaper. Not because I want heads to roll, but because the truth will set us free ... it really will. And the sooner we expose all things to the light, the sooner we will be many steps closer to peace on earth.
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"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."