November 17, 2004

  • Civil Dialogue with a member of the Christian Right -- I had a dialogue with a very intelligent and sensitive person who considers herself a born-again Christian and a Republican and Bush supporter. We went from doctrine to actual conversation, which I was very happy about.

    She started the dialogue saying that it seemed like people were going through Civil War Part Two and why couldn't we be more civil to each other. All the vitriol towards the Bush administration is not only unhealthy, it is sinful, she said.

    Verbatim it was: "I do not see the reason for all the vitriol. I really think it is unhealthy and it is sinful too. I don't get all the hatred for Bush. I don't get hatred for anybody except for Satan himself, and even that you have to let it go at some point and let God be God ('Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord; I will repay.' I know it could be said the Republicans hated Clinton and it is true, a lot of them did. I never did though."

    This is a reasonable position, earnestly stated, something that can be discussed. She went on to make many other interesting points, more than I will list here. She made the point that hatred itself is wrong. She also thought referring to Bush as if he were a Nazi is wrong. She had some points. It wasn't a thoughtless argument.

    This discussion never got disrespectful. It was a real dialogue. I wrote to her: "Your statement about letting go the hatred is valid, but if it is valid for Bush, it must also be valid for Hitler himself. I think the most spiritually evolved person would be able to let go of it in regard to Hitler as well. He was only a person. He certainly committed many egregious crimes by our earthly standards, but utimately it is not for us to judge.

    "Bush is responsible for murdering over 100,000 Iraqis on false pretenses. To most Americans that has little meaning, and that is very sad. If someone murdered 100,000 Missourians would you still be able to be so detached about it? Perhaps. It could be that the most spiritually evolved person would be able to do that. I think that is probably the case.

    "In the case of most Americans, though, it isn't because they are spiritually evolved that they don't care about 100,000 unjustified deaths. I think they are just oblivious. They are deceived, but they allow themselves to be deceived.

    "It's true that the Bush administration has not murdered as many people as the Nazis. But the Nazis are a closed book in history, more or less, and the Bushistas are still active, still racking up numbers."

    Then I got pretty brutal, not in an unfriendly way because we had established a friendly tone. But the issues I brought up were brutal. I referred to a young woman we both know who would be subject to the draft as now drawn up by the U.S. Congress. I said, "So tell me, if they draft her and she is sent off to Iraq or Iran or wherever Bush decides to have his next war of choice, will you still feel that it is not worthy of all the vitriol? If she is killed, would you be aroused? This is what is happening to many young people now. They are just people you and I don't know. But it will reach people we know, don't kid yourself.

    "I know people with children in Iraq, and I do mean children. The military goes into the high schools and gets young kids to join, kids with few prospects. They promise them training, room and board. And they tell them they will be part of a great cause, protecting freedom, protecting their country. They don't explain that they will be thrown into a hell, killing innocent people in a war of choice, not a war to defend America, and certainly not a war to defend freedom, democracy, free enterprise or any of that.

    "Halliburton is making billions off of it, millions of which will go to Dick Cheney. The Bush family is also making millions off these wars through Carlyle company. To me, these realities are the absolute diametric opposite of Christianity. I cannot understand how people who consider themselves Christians can support this. It is baffling to me. And very tragic.

    "I don't know what you think of Nazi Germany and of all the Germans who lived there who went along with the Nazis' wars to some degree or other. But whatever you think of them is now true of Americans. We are the same kinds of fools, the same kinds of mass killers aiding and abetting the crimes of our leaders. It is true it is not for me to judge, but it is important for people to come to terms with these facts because they are history and nothing is going to change them. In history, we will go down with the Good Germans who supported the Nazis.

    "As far as Carville and Matalin are concerned, I have no comprehension of what goes on between them. We aren't talking about details in tax policy or whether or not to build a road in one place or another. We are talking about mass murder. I think it's pretty serious business. If anything is important in this earthly existence, then doing what one can to prevent unjustified murder and the brutalization of the weak by the strong is important.

    "The most frustrating thing for me is that people refuse to accept the facts of these deaths. They just push them away and don't deal with them. I can't help but think of the poor Iraqis who would love to do the same, but can't because the murder and destruction are going on on their doorsteps. Their own family members, their children are being killed. I just can't understand why Americans don't care."

    Her response to this message was gratifying. She said that in fact she did not agree with war, any war. That was a huge step. She said, "I don't believe the Bible ever justifies going to war, at least not the New Testament. I don't believe it does and neither does my pastor. I cannot reconcile that with the teachings of Jesus. No, that I cannot do. But I do believe that governments are set up or allowed to be put in place ultimately within the sovereignty of God. I believe that He is, presently, and ultimately, in control, even though the world is chaotic. Therefore, my role as a Christian is to pray for the leadership of my country according to I Timothy (I think). I think sometimes countries make decisions to do things that are not 'love' because we still live in a sinful world. However, in light of what was going on I think it was not a bad thing to go into Afghanistan and Iraq to stop things that were happening over there. You probably don't agree with that."

    She really didn't get what I meant when I referred to the Bush administration as murderers. She also said that it was a mischaracterization that "all we care about is abortion and gay marriage." She made the point, valid I think, that ultimately it is our own spiritual being that we have to deal with, not the crimes of someone else.

    I tried to put my rationale for my use of the word "murderers" in clear basic English: "When I say murderers, I mean people who kill. The guy who orders a killing is still a killer whether he does it with his own hands or if he has someone else do it.

    "If someone tries to kill my family and I kill him, I am still a murderer. I may feel it is justified, and our society may agree with me on that, but that doesn't make me not a murderer. I do not pretend not to have that potential. I think any human being does.

    "So when George Bush orders the country into war and orders young men to kill, he is a murderer. Now the next question is, is it justified? Obviously he makes the case that it is and a lot of Americans agree with him. If in fact he was going after the person who set off the WTC bombing, that crime would go a long way toward justifying the act of murder. Even then, however, I believe that in the kind of society America once aspired to be -- a country that was more Christian than today in its actions, if less in its professions -- we would prefer that justice be handled in a less savage way. We like to capture criminals, render them harmless to our world, then administer some sort of civilized justice. That goes way back in history.

    "But I would not justify killing tens of thousands of innocent people even if the dictator that rules over them was the perpetrator of 911. That is not justice, or anything remotely resembling it. It is not justifiable. The principle members of the Bush administration have acknowledged that there was no link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, or the attacks on the U.S. So there isn't even a pretense of its being justified.

    "That is what I'm talking about. They are murderers. And they have also taken over that country, taken its oil and claimed everything as being under their power. They are plunderers. Thieves of the greatest magnitude. So that is what I'm talking about. It's plain English and very simple concepts. The American people are just addled and can't think straight enough to grasp the consequences of what is happening.

    "On a certain spiritual and philosophical level, I agree with you about there not being much I can do about the world and I have to worry about my own spiritual being -- that is true enough, and probably on a more profound and ultimate level than what I am talking about in the world of political affairs.

    But we do still live in this world. If you walk out of your apartment today and someone holds a gun up to your face and shoves you in the trunk of a car, you are going to have to deal with it. You have to decide how to deal with it in a way that does not violate what you believe in spiritually. Some would just submit and let God handle it. And to some degree you would have to do that, and we all have to do that to a large degree in this world. But at certain points when you are pushed, you react. Right or wrong. Sometimes you defend yourself, or someone else, or a principle. And that is basically what is happening with me. I feel that I am being provoked into taking some kind of action so that I can live with myself and not feel that I stood by and did nothing while undeserving women, children and men were being slaughtered and their homes and cities destroyed."

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