Sunday, May 23, 2010

Loving God in a World of Violent Neighbors

Photo credit to Eleanor Beardsley from NPR shows the kinds of live shells still being dug up in Europe from the world wars.

Okay ... Eric caused me to go back and check my source--I had to be sure (blame it on him :-). I dug into my outgoing bookstack and pulled out Ishmael Beah’s Memoirs of a boy soldier, A Long Way Gone, Sarah Crichton Books, NY, 2007. And yes Eric, it was a surrealistic read--sadly true first hand account. Having determined that direction, this is what comes out. . .

I’ve read a number of books on Darfur, the John Githongo story, African Colonialism, reconciliation among victims of Genocide, et al. Such savagery may only be surpassed by this bizarre warping of an adolescent, West African child. Three innocent boys on a 16-mile hike to a talent competition in a nearby community find themselves stranded and forced to flee for their lives.

They are captured by the revolutionary soldiers from whom they found it necessary to flee. From 13-16, Ishmael existed as a boy soldier enduring unspeakable experiences, only to be captured by Government soldiers. UNICEF negotiators finally got Ishmael released, rehabilitated, and returned to private life.

As a student Ishmael proved his worthiness to represent his country in New York City. There, he joined 57 other children from 23 nations and presented the situation affecting the children of his country. He left NYC 11-15-1996 pleased to have met people outside his own country, “because if I was to get killed upon my return, I knew that a memory of my existence was alive somewhere in the world.”

During his stolen childhood, Ishmael became an active participant, walking long hours, stopping only to eat sardines and corned beef with gari, sniff cocaine, brown brown, and take some white capsules. “The idea of death didn’t cross my mind at all,” he admitted, “killing had become as easy as drinking water. My mind had not only snapped during the first killing, it had also stopped making remorseful records, or so it seemed.”

On one raid, government soldiers captured a few rebels after a long gunfight and a lot of civilian casualties. “Where did you get all this ammunition from,” demanded the corporal of a prisoner. The prisoner spat in his face and “The corporal shot him in the head at close range immediately ... He fell onto the ground and blood slowly leaked out of his head. We cheered in admiration of the corporal’s fierceness and saluted him as he walked by.

“Suddenly, Lansana, one of the boys was shot in the chest and head by a rebel hiding in the bushes. We dispersed around the village in search of the shooter. When the young muscular rebel was captured. The lieutenant slit his neck with his bayonet. The rebel ran up and down the village before he fell to the ground and stopped moving. We cheered again, raising our guns in the air, shouting and whistling …

“We’--the lieutenant pointed to us-- … Our job is a serious one and we have the most capable soldiers, who will do anything to defend this country. We are not like the rebels, those riffraffs who kill people for no reason. We kill them for the good and betterment of this country. . .” (emphasis added).

Since Ishmael's rehabilitation, he relocated to the United States--1998--graduated from Oberlin college in 2004. He now serves on the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division Advisory Committee and has spoken widely before a variety of “ngo panels on children affected by war.”

Sadistic, you say? I agree. Such is the selfishness and greed of unsatiated self-satisfaction, savagery, and sin, the kind that supports war and terrorism and gun-smuggling. Such becomes the defense and the behavior of a culture of war, from either perspective. Such is the potential of life in any culture that rejects “Jesus”--the start down on a slippery slope that has no definable bottom.

I recognize “institutional Christians”--both Catholic and Protestant denomination--have perpetrated as much violence as Buddhists, Islamists, and atheists. On the other hand, show me a true practitioner of the "teachings of Jesus" and I will show you someone who finds it impossible to follow Jesus and behave violently against another.

It is a high standard, but show me evidence to the contrary.Jesus offers the only "relationship" in the world with a "personally transforming" difference.
from Warner’s World, this is

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