Monday, May 28, 2007

Arlington West


This photo of is of the Arlington West Memorial at the beach in Santa Barbara. There are 3000 crosses in the sand, most with names, many with photos. Of course there is also a sign that recognizes that as of this writing there are actually 3497.

Memorial Day is always an ambivalent day for me. I am a pacifist. I always think there is another way to solve conflict than with military might. The Iraq War itself involves no ambivalence. I think Bush, Cheney and the rest of them should be tried for war crimes and imprisoned. Now we know that they told yet another lie when they tell us that nobody could predict what has happened. Before the invasion they had received intelligence estimates that predicted exactly what happened. Of course, they ignored those predictions. They must be held responsible for the death and destruction they have caused.

My feelings about the casualties are very different. (here's a link to the names, details, and photos of those who have died). Some who have died signed up for the military because they truly believed in this mission and believed they could make a difference in the world. Some were in the reserves because they believed it was an easy way to supplement their income and never dreamt they would be in combat. At worst they expected to be deployed to help clean up after a natural disaster. Some were confused young people who joined the military in hopes of finding direction for their lives. Someone had told them that "joining the army will make you a man."

The men and women represented by those crosses in the sand, many of whom were too young to really know who they were or where they were going, gave their lives at the bequest of the nation. It is a noble act to be willing to sacrifice your future for the greater good. It is an act to be honored. At the same time, it is an act that should not be required without the most serious of discussion and not until every other option has been exhausted. In this case there was no serious discussion and much of what there was was laced with lies. It wasn't a case where every reasonable option was exhausted, it was a time when the option chosen should not have been on the table at all.

These men and women did not waste their lives. They sacrificed for their country. Still, their lives were wasted. George Bush wasted their lives. They died for his macho fantasy in an unnecessary war that cannot be won.

I seriously doubt that he will be held accountable for his actions in this life, but I believe he will stand before God and listen to each name read, see each face of each soldier who died, of each one who has come back without limbs, of each one who cannot adjust to life after having seen what they saw and done what they did. He will see each face and hear each name of each Iraqi citizen who died as "colateral damage" or in the sectarian violence we fomented. He had better pray that his view of God is not accurate. If we do have a God of violence and vengence, as George Bush seems to believe, he will surely pay for what he has done. I imagine him standing and saying, "But I thought it was the right thing" with that goofy look on his face and God responds, "Go away from me. You never knew me."

9 comments:

Tim said...

Hmm...you're right. Other than ending slavery, Nazism, Fascism, and freeing millions from Communism, war hasn’t accomplished anything!

Oh, and by the way...as a pastor, do you recognize at all the arrogance in your last post? Yes, Bush will stand before God and have to account for his "sins"...but SO WILL YOU! You are on dangerous ground my friend when you make such statements. You just might find yourself having to give account for your hatred, judgement, and smugness, all in the guise of "righteous anger" of course.

Lucky for you and for George Bush (and for everyone who puts their faith in Jesus) the blood of Jesus can forgive the most gruesome of sins, even when we may not recognize them as sins in this lifetime.

Lead on fearless pastor...

Tim

roy said...

Well Tim... I guess the difference between my sins and those of George Bush is that mine have not led to the deaths of thousands of people and the maiming of thousands more.

Tim said...

So...that makes you less guilty? The wages of all sin is death my friend...

You can try to justify it any way you want, but when it comes down to it...you deserve death because of your sin (as do I), no matter how "less sinful" you are than George Bush or any other individual.

Tim

Mike L. said...

Roy,

Thanks for that thoughtful post. I agree with your critique of our nation's war mentality and also with your respect for those brave men and women that have lost their lives.

roy said...

Tim,

As a theological statement we could talk about what that means... as an ethical framework it is obviously silly. One sin does not equal another... stealing a pack of gum is not the same as mass murder, arrogance that makes me look foolish or self-centered is not the same as arrogance & lying that leads to war and death.

roy said...

Mike L.
thanks for stopping by and the kind words.

Anonymous said...

The real enemy is hatred. Dr. Wayne Dyer puts it in a way I understand:

"Throughout our history, there has been a long list of those we've been conditioned to hate. The British, French, Spanish, Germans, Japanese, Russians, Communists, Northern Koreans, Vietnamese, Iranians, Taliban, and both northerners and southerners in our own country are some of the people we've been encouraged at various times to call enemies and to hate. The list is long, and as time passes, those we were assigned to hate we later were told should be removed from our hate list. The enemy is obviously hatred itself ...

With empathy, you know in your heart that it's not a sign of weakness to attempt to understand that the people we call terrorists have placed the same label on us, and that the use of force will create a counter force, a never-ending saga of killing and hate. Ending war involves cultivating empathy in our policies and the love of God in our hearts."

Love, understanding, acceptance; if enough people take on the qualities of peace, I believe the shift will be to peace and not war to solve our differences. -- J. Wells

Tim said...

Roy,

I was speaking theologically only because you decided to finish your intial post with a theological statement and sentiment by imagining Bush standing before God "with that goofy look on his face," and God banishing him from his presence. If that's not theological, then what is?

Based on that, it doesn't matter if your sin leads to less war and death. Your sin is as damning as W's, who by the way, you just may be spending eternity with in Heaven...you never know! How foolish would you feel then?

Tim

Chad said...

Does God's grace and mercy not include George Bush, or is it only for some?