Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Taps" and Peace

Wisdom of the day: don’t put both feet in your mouth at the same time; leave yourself a leg to stand on.

Longtime friend, Helen Curtis, sent this interesting story --reportedly from 1862 during the Civil War. Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison's Landing in Virginia, across from a Confederate Army. During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a wounded soldier in a nearby field.

Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain opted to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, he reached the stricken soldier and pulled him back to camp.On reaching his own lines, the Captain discovered the soldier was both Confederate and dead. Lighting a lantern, the Captain caught his breath and went numb with shock.

The face of the soldier was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army. The following morning, the heartbroken father asked permission to give his son full military burial, despite his enemy status. His request was granted--partially.

The Captain for a group of Army band members to play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. That was rejected; the soldier was a Confederate. But, out of respect for the father, they agreed to give him one musician.The Captain chose a bugler and asked him to play a series of musical notes the Captain had found on a piece of paper in the pocket his son’s uniform. This wish was granted and the haunting melody we now know as "Taps" was born.

The words:
----------First Verse
Day is done.
Gone the sun.
From the lakes
From the hills.
From the sky.
All is well.
Safely rest.
God is nigh.
------------ Second verse
Fading light.
Dims the sight.
And a star.
Gems the sky.
Gleaming bright.
From afar.
Drawing nigh.
Falls the night.
------------Third verse
Thanks and praise.
For our days.
Neath the sun
Neath the stars.
Neath the sky.
As we go.
This we know.
God is nigh

The story carries an aura of romantic patriotism popular in many quarters and used for rallying support of military forces. As is always the case, people become the collateral damage in times of war.

It is unfortunate that so many in the church have bought into the world of war and violence. To paraphrase Stephen Carter (Civility/154), when we glorify killing in our films and our music, select aggressive metaphors in everyday speech, and declare that our every cause is a war, we are proclaiming ourselves to be people of violence. He suggests (158) that “Television has grown so violent over the past two decades that no serious researcher any longer doubts that over exposure to televised images of violence helps transform gentle children into brutal adults.”

It isn’t just the TV; it is in our speech, our movies, our sports, and in our diplomacy. I saw a book in the public library just this morning that documented the numerous war crimes for which George W. Bush could be legally charged, with his faulty logic and diplomacy.

War is seldom about or between people; it is about government policies, political empowerment, economic investment, and greed, both capitalistic and fascist. On the surface, WWII seemed justifiable and I always supported it, but now that I have read some of the diplomatic history behind it, there were other reasons of power, economics, and personal greed that created the underlying causes, for which we all paid dearly.

Technology has reduced us to a human global community, in spite of the greatest population ever. We need each other now more than ever; if we are to coexist together we must manage the rules of the game so that everybody gets to play with an equal deck of cards.

That means taxes, rules and government (of, for, by, the people) to keep the game straight. That isn’t socialism; it is democracy, because we do not need to be controlled by corporate money barons etc anymore than we need to go back to the ancient feudal lords or to King George and the era of Kingly rule.

It means everyone ought to take up the call of peacemaking. The G20 Conference could go far in levelling the playing floor and deleting the demands of violence and war. War is always anti-social behavior, always anti-people. Greed, political power and special interests always drive the war machine.

The founder of the Christian Church said, seek first his kingdom and his right living and these other things will be given you as well (Matthew 6:33). While many claim his name, they continually deny his most basic teachings: “if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Mt. 6:15, NIT).

Jesus taught applied Christianity as (1) loving God supremely, and (2) loving your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). And since the Apostle Paul is accepted as the greater interpreter of Christianity, how did he interpret such teachings? He said, (1) restore the fallen, (2) watch yourself, (3) carry each other’s burdens, (4) don’t overestimate your worth and deceive yourself, and (5) test your own actions so you can live with them, and (6) everybody carry his share (Galatians 6:1-5).

It is past time that we prioritize people needs and peace-making rather than patriotism, pride, profit, and profane purposes.
From Warner’s World

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