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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Monday, April 05, 2004

The christian difference between murder and killing....REALLY?

 By the time I enter Massachusetts it feels like the height of a winter day and my beautiful truck is covered with a film of white powder – the words are still visible but very, very dirty. I pull into the first service plaza on the mass pike, not realizing that I was about to pass myself off as a Christian... as I’m walking around my truck, I hear a white male voice shouting “bush is great” – the anonymous quick-jab-in-the-parking-lot bravado. I look around not spying the culprit so I ask equally as loud in that general direction:  “what is so great about bush?’
No one claims responsibility for yelling nor answers my question. Searching, I quickly narrow the possibility down to the white van about seven parking spaces away, with sliding doors ajar, filled with people averting their eyes and bodies, and painted ‘st somebody’s evangelical christian church’.
I approach the open door and ask again “What’s so great about bush” to total still silence. I see the van is filled with all white people, mostly young adolescent boys around 13-14 years old, one maybe mid-thirties man and a maybe 50’s year old woman in the driver’s seat. Still no one says a word.
I peer into the van and said “I thought someone in here yelled something about bush being so great and I’d like to talk with whomever said that.”
Finally the older young man speaks up with “Well someone from this van might have said that, I don’t know really know, but I can tell you that I think bush is great”.
“Really,” I look at him skeptically, “and so why do you think bush is great?”
“Because he’s a christian.” he says matter-of-factly, without averting his baby blues or puking.
Most of the adolescents are not facing me but they are giggling or twitching uncomfortably in their seats.
“A christian?” I scoff in the most unbelievable tone I can easily muster, “What in heaven’s name is the least little bit christian about bush?”
The older guy whom I decide must be the minister or counselor or someone with authority, just looks at me and says “bush is doing the christian works.”
That’s when I just had to pass myself off as a christian. “You know, it is so important for us who are christians to really stand-up and not allow bush to do what he is doing and pass it off as christian. There is NOTHING christian about bombing other countries, bombing Iraq, murdering hundreds of thousands of human beings, many of them your age or your mom’s age or your little brothers. Bush has totally disregarded the ten commandments – what does he think the bible says ‘thou shalt not kill, unless bush wants oil from Iraq?’”
“There’s killing in the bible,” a couple of the adolescents are now brave enuff to turn around to chime in – we’re on their solid ground, after all.
The minister pipes up with the story of god ordering Abraham to kill his child. duh. Wasn’t that some misogynist story of the wife being jealous of Abraham’s promiscuity that resulted in a child with another womon – beginning the Jewish/Arab conflict? So a female can be blamed for the violence in that part of the world? I do not get sidetracked and mention this.
Instead I wave a dismissive hand at what is not the christian part of the bible and ask “What are you talking about?’ I don’t let him continue – he has this gleam in his eye that makes me cut him off quickly and say once again with as much holy authority as I can conjure up “As christians, I think it is so important that we stand up and do not allow this man to represent us. Jesus says ‘love your enemy, do GOOD to those that would harm you.’ Do we not follow jesus especially today?”
The boy who had turned to face me continued to look me in the eye and declare with that youthful assuredness “Oh, president bush is not murdering anyone. There is a difference between murder and killing.”
Now I’m truly shocked.
I ask him to please explain exactly what in the world is the difference between murder and killing. He smiles then with serious precision tells me when you kill (the ‘in god’s name’ is understood) you tell people you are going to kill them; when you murder you don’t tell them, you just do it.
I’m livid. I lean into the van to clarify: “So because bush declared war on Iraq, told the Iraqis we’re going to kill them, god says it’s okay to kill?” He puts a broad smile on his little head that is bobbing up and down enthusiastically as if he’s won a trip to the holy land.
“You see,” I continue, enunciating carefully and clearly, “This is the very reason it is so important that we as christians, do not allow ourselves to be misrepresented by someone who claims to be christian. Suppose I tell you,” and I lean in even closer and poke close to his heart “Son, I’m going to kill you. Then I take out a gun and shoot you – that makes it right?
At this point, the driver reaches across the seat and the sea of pale children, offering me her hand: “We have to go now but aren’t you glad you live in a country that allows this kind of dialogue to happen between people?”
I grab her extended hand and hold on to ask her name – she’s had plenty of time to think this little bit of sabotage up and I need a second. It’s mary of course. “Mary,” I say, “I am truly glad that you have allowed us to engage in this conversation because my experience with folks who hold your values is that you are not only willing to kill Iraqis but you are willing to slash my tires, to attempt to run me off the road, call me names and attack my right to speak my mind and live in this country, or just shout at me out van doors and then refuse to engage in thoughtful dialogue.”
Mary is trying to free her hand but I have a good grip and I need to finish what I have to say – after all, I’m being dismissed. “And, if you’re set on teaching children the ancient Jewish bible, why not teach them about beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks and nations shall not fight nations nor learn war anymore?” I smile more broadly, tell the children to beware, make a double peace symbol and do a little happy jig as I head back to my truck.
            Using christianity to teach children war is okay with such vile ignorance as there is a difference between murder and killing. As fuckin if.


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