Here’s my beef. It’s an old one. Not liked aged steak, but like rotten hamburger that you’ve let sit too long in the fridge. We say that we love each other. We say that we act like “Christians” would act.
But we don’t.
How many of you have shared or liked a Facebook post about the Jordanian government executing the two terrorists, as in convicted of their crimes terrorists? Have you said, it serves them right. Have you said, they deserved it. Have you said, well they were convicted.
Did you know that Jordan had a moratorium on executions for more than a decade? That the people they killed on Wednesday had been held for years without having their sentences realized?
Did you know that it took the immolation of a Jordanian pilot to get them to move on those death sentences?
Did you know it was to avenge the death of that pilot? You did. And you may have been glad. You may have felt like justice was done.
You know, a thing happened to me, and then another thing, and I thought that if I could only do grave bodily harm maybe I could somehow feel better about those things. I thought that if I got my pound of flesh I could somehow heal, somehow become whole, somehow trust people with my kids again.
I didn’t get that pound of flesh.
What I got was this strange idea that heaven is not a place with streets paved with gold and buildings gilded in mother of pearl – that it is a place that we create. That at some point in time, all of humanity comes together, in all of our brokenness, and we create this place where everyone is equal and everyone is ok.
And we don’t kill each other anymore to “avenge” murder.
And we don’t say that only some people, those who have the right color skin or at least the right income bracket are welcome, and the rest are not.
And we don’t kill each other anymore to “avenge” murder. (This from some of the same people who oppose abortion. Tell me how one kind of killing is ok and another is not.)
I heard that the two prisoners had been killed on my way home from dropping Casey off at work. On the one hand, this is news prior to 7am and a full cup of coffee in me. On the other hand, I was so sad. It was like the wind was knocked out of me for a second, as if that devil in his skanky black leather suit was dancing a happy dance on the top of the milky way singing, “look what I did! look what I convinced them was the right thing to do!”
Ghandi said that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. And so it does. This is how little kids, my kids, hurt each other. One smacks the other and the other smacks back and then it’s a full on girl cat fight.
I know. They were convicted terrorists.
I know. They meant to take innocent lives in the name of their cause.
I know. They put this pilot in a cage and then they tossed an accelerant all over him and they filmed it as he burned.
Here’s a radical idea.
What if: instead of more killing in the face of killing, what if, we said: We won’t do this anymore. We won’t. No more dead children. No more.
What if we said, give us your refugees. Give us your women, your children, your elderly, your infirm. What if we said, we will care for those people, for your people, the people who have been cast aside in your holy war. By your jihad.
What if we said, we will not retaliate. What if we said, an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, but you have women who are being raped and little girls who can’t go to school and little boys and old men who are hungry. What if we said, we won’t kill people, but we will care for them? Protect them, feed them, educate them.
A radical idea, I know.
To say that we won’t respond to violence with, well, more violence. It’s all fine and good for you to say, for me say, anyone who hurts my child will die a bloody death. But you know what? I’ve been there, faced that, watched my husband sob and punch holes in the garage wall with a deputy from the sheriff’s department on speakerphone trying to talk him out of killing his neighbor.
I can’t live that way.
We repeat history over and over again, we allow mass genocide, we allow religious war. We retaliate and we retaliate and we call it spreading it democracy.
Seditious stuff here, and I’m not sorry.
I will NOT jump on the bandwagon of revenge. Forgiveness is a place we reach at different times, for various reasons, in differing circumstances.
I told my mom today, someday, Casey will have this lightbulb turn on over his head. Someday he will see that there is this wide, wide circle of grace that surrounds every single one of us, that this grace is something so big that we can’t comprehend it, from our sweet mid western towns with our sweet, white kids.
It is so big.
It starts with you.
The next time someone cuts you off, don’t flip them off. Smile. Seriously, you’ve what, been set back thirty seconds?
The next time someone wants to check out with more than 12 items, where do you have to be that is so important?
We can start a revolution, you think it doesn’t matter, you think you are so small.
But you aren’t.
And what you do, how you act, what you say, it matters.
You are a key part of that great big grace. You are a key part of that big stained glass glory light.
Stop fighting. Stop taking revenge.
Look to the children, look to the damaged women, look to the refugees and the homeless. Ask them to tell you where they’ve been and what they’ve learned.
Take those lessons to heart. We will build a place here, right here, where all people are cared for. We will build a place where we don’t advertise the fact that we have avenged the sins of people who had nothing to do with the acts in question, proudly, wrongly.
Sometimes to tell the truth is really hard.
Anything worthwhile is.
BE glory light. BE welcoming. CARE for each other.
We don’t avenge things here. We don’t call off decades long moratoriums on the death penalty and execute people who had nothing to do with that boy dying in a cage of fire just because we can, to somehow avenge him.
LOVE wins here.
Because we belong to each other. We have our little camp, it’s white canvas tents and it’s smoking fires. There are kids all over, they all look different, they all speak different languages, but as only children can do, they understand each other.
They show us what it is to accept. And to love. And to forgive.