Chronicles in Ordinary Time 96: The Choices We Make

heroes horizThere’s an old platitude that ‘art imitates life’. It’s probably true.

I think it’s also true that life imitates art.

What we experience on a daily basis becomes our ‘new normal’ unless we aggressively work to change ‘normal’. Sometimes we have to adjust to the fact that ‘new normal’ will be the story of our lives for the years to come. This happens with physical limitations, emotional stress/PTSD and a host of other maladies. Nonetheless, we do not have to become victims of ‘new normal’. It’s a choice. Sometimes an awful choice…

I watch movies and DVDs every day, always looking for ‘hero stories’. There are some Marvel Comic Book Movies I enjoy; but a large number of them are what I call ‘Property Damage’ movies. I often wonder if the creators ever put themselves in the position of the inhabitants of the destroyed buildings. At the end of the movie, Metropolis looks like Syria… Mostly bombed out buildings where no one can live; precious memories destroyed; precious lives destroyed.

Recently I read Philip Yancey’s The Question That Never Goes Away: Why? Philip’s attempt to address the problems of terrorism and disaster as it strikes cities. Philip, in his preface, comments that the books he writes are usually attempts to understand a question he does not understand. Much of the book deals with school shootings, and mass killings by terrorists. His search for answers began with his first book, Where is God When It Hurts?

Philip does not provide an answer; there really isn’t an answer that we can understand, to the question: Why does a loving Creator allow violence to occur?

Why does the Creator allow you to hate your neighbor?

Why does the Creator allow you to hate?

To stop you from hating would have required the Creator to make you into a robot, pre-programmed from birth.

I watched the first five minutes of three movies tonight and turned them off. I knew from the outset that this might be my reaction. Each of the movies had cast members I’ve admired in previous performances. Makes me wonder why these “A List” people would take part in such crappy movies…

I’ve spent the last hour or so perusing Facebook and associated news blurbs, and what I keep seeing is hatred and fear…

I don’t know nearly enough about the Animal Kingdom to make any pronouncements…I have yet to see posts on Facebook or in news blurbs about how Scientists have discovered that those creatures we call ‘lesser’ animals hate. “Lesser” animals rarely go on rampages, destroying all the life that is in their path. “Lesser” animals are pre-programmed with some of the most amazing behavior—birds that are not that far from being newborn, flying across continents to some location they’ve never been to. Butterflies, whose brains are about the size of the period in this sentence can fly across continents to go to locales where their ancestors have flown for centuries. It’s programmed into them.

We have very little pre-programming.

We hate because we choose to hate. That’s it. Pure and simple. We make the choice.

We choose fear because we choose fear, rather than faith. I’m not talking about religion; I’m talking about trust. To choose to trust that the stranger will likely believe in the same things we believe in. My family, if they read this, will know that I am writing words I haven’t often demonstrated. I am a hermit; a curmudgeon; one who doesn’t like strangers. My family, for years, has been showing me the reality is that we need to trust. We need to trust that in their heart, the people we don’t know believe the same kinds of things we believe in. We will frequently be disappointed. We still need to trust.

Terrorism is the responsibility of Free Will—we can shoot/blow away anyone we feel like killing. The Dark Side of Freedom; my guess is that in order to stop humans from killing, the Creator would have to start with every kid who pulls the legs off of an insect. Or a bored kid in Eastern Oregon who can’t find anything better to do than spend hours destroying ants; sort of like playing with toy soldiers… Children play at killing each other. As a whole, we don’t seem to feel that this is odd…or evil.

We humans choose to be inhuman. We choose to throw away the gift of our Creativity, that aspect of our being that I believe makes us ‘a little lower than the angels’ and we choose chaos. When we are wounded, our natural reaction is to wound others. As Jason Gray chooses to say, ‘the wound is where the Light gets in.’ We are vessels of clay, fragile and easily broken. If we are wise, we realize that the wound is where the Light gets in.

The Creator’s answer to our inhumanity is to become a human, so that He can be with us when the terror comes. I once realized that this is a lot like what happens when I turn over a rock—a whole bunch of squiggly things start crawling and wriggling around. Critters that are as unlike me as I am unlike the Creator [I don’t believe ‘made in the Creator’s image’ has anything to do with our physical appearance].

The Creator became one of those squiggly critters living under the rock called Earth; an act of Love so huge I can’t really begin to understand it. I would NEVER become a centipede, so that I could be with the centipedes while stupid children kill them without thinking.

School shootings don’t shock us anymore. We have come to accept them as part of life in America. Why?

I grew up with a television as my babysitter. I grew up with hero stories. My heroes were the characters in the image above. Most of them had weapons. Marksmen who didn’t aim for the 10-ring when they fired. Too improbable? The stories have been rewritten now, and the heroes are hard to find. We couldn’t stand the thought that we can’t be heroic; so we used the heroes for graffiti.

Somewhere along the journey, we decided as a nation to stop looking for heroes; we don’t really believe they exist. We talk about the heroism of the 19-year old kid who gets sent across the world to ‘defend freedom.’ We talk about his heroism when he comes home in a box.

When he comes back broken because of what he witnessed of man’s inhumanity toward man, we ignore him. We act ashamed because we don’t know how to fix him. Thousands of homeless veterans wander our cities; and we consider them a blight upon the landscape. We sue City Government because City Government allowed them to camp on the rights-of-ways during winter, rather than kicking them out of town… We curse them for using our yards as toilets…simply because no one offered them to use a toilet in their house.

We have choices. We can be heroic. It takes a lot of effort.

We can choose to welcome the refugee, imagining that they are just like we are; or we can decide to build a wall and keep them out.

In Jesus’ parable, the listeners ask, when did we ever mistreat you? ‘When you mistreated the least of these, you mistreated me.’ There are no Exceptions to this concept. Whenever you mistreat another, you mistreat the Creator of all life; whether or not you believe there is a Creator. There’s a t-shirt floating around the internet: ‘Science does not care whether or not you believe in Science’. The same thing holds true for MUCH LARGER concepts than Science.






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