Friday, September 7, 2007

It can’t end like this. We can’t go out this way.

With all of the positive influences we have had, we should be much better people than the cruel and sadistic people who take pleasure in hurting each other, that we have allowed ourselves to become.

I was reminded of this recently by hearing two particular songs from my past one of which has special meaning for me, though a great number of other songs could have had the same effect, because the best ideals of our world were most often expressed in the music we heard, and this music was usually the most positive influence in our lives, and it is the efforts of the musicians we heard that we most dishonor by having become what we have allowed ourselves to become. This music was available to all of us, as my experience proves, as I as a young person in a small town in rural Ohio frequently heard this music even in what many people would see as an isolated existence. The two songs that recently reminded me of this were Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”, with its lesson that it is important to think of the long-term consequences of our actions, and the Electric Light Orchestra’s “Telephone line”, with its high level of compassion and empathy for the feelings we all often feel. Both of these songs were staples for me in my most formative years, as I heard both of them often, and they are especially good reminders of the positive influence our music should have had on us, because they were by no means two of the best songs of their time, but were instead very mediocre among the songs of their time. If two such mediocre songs taught us important lessons about being thoughtful and compassionate people, we can see how positive the legacy we have inherited through music is, and we can see how greatly we dishonor that legacy through what we have allowed our world and our selves to become. Through Guantanomo Bay we dishonor this legacy, through Abu Ghraib we dishonor this legacy, (Even though younger people did most of both of these things if we had honored our legacy we would have taught those people much better than we did.), every time any person in power abuses any person who seems to have less power, we dishonor our legacy, and every time we or anyone we should have taught better, are cruel to other people in any way, we dishonor the great legacy we are the inheritors of.

There will always be excuses and rationalizations for abandoning our legacy if we want to use them. Guantanomo Bay, and Abu Ghraib happened in great part because we were frightened, but there will always be things that will frighten us, and if we allow our fears to cause us to abandon our legacy, then we never truly inherited that legacy in the first place.

People in our parents generation were not the inheritors of such a positive legacy, so their sins are much more expected than our sins are. To whom much has been given. From that person much is demanded. We have obviously been given much, so much is obviously demanded of us.

I used to believe our world was a good world, full of people who were not cruel and sadistic. Now I no longer believe this, but I know that our world should be this way, based on the positive influences we have experienced. And I believe that our world still can be this way, if we take hold of the legacy we have let go and follow our better natures. And I believe that a great part of doing this must involve taking hold of the true legacy of Jesus Christ: a legacy which the vast majority of us have let go, even the vast majority of those of us who call ourselves Christians.

Barack Obama recently said that if The United States Government has actionable intelligence on the location of Al Qaeda members in Pakistan, then as president he will send United States troops into Pakistan. Doing this would lead to a civil war in Pakistan, with the United States allied with one side, and with many other individuals and nations allied with the other side. With all of his lying and foolish belligerence, at least Bush the younger, has gotten us into a war that does less harm than this war would do. When Bush started his war in Iraq in 2003, this was the war that I said Al Gore would have gotten us into, had he been elected president in 2000, and this is how I said Gore would have started this war. Now Obama is saying he will do what I believe Gore would have done. If we’re not smart enough to know the danger of wars, then maybe we’re better off being lied to.

Jesus of Nazareth says, “You have heard it said: An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you: Do not resist not evil. If a man strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him your left. If a man judges you and takes away your coat, offer him your cloak also. If a man compels you to go a mile, go with him two. (Mt 5:38-45). Jesus tells us not to resist evil because He knows that fighting and wars will always do more harm to everyone involved in them, than they will do to help any of those people.

One reason this is so, is that when we try to resist evil, people who are trying to do evil to us, usually try harder to do evil to us, and another reason is that if we do not try to resist evil, then we will devote our energies to trying to make peace with people who would otherwise try to do evil to us, and that we will be able to avoid evil those people would do to us, much more often by trying to make peace with them, than by trying to resist their evil. If we follow Jesus’ teachings and still become victims of evil, we can know that if we had not followed Jesus, we would have become the victims of even greater evil. This is just as true between nations as it is between individuals. If Jesus wanted us to act differently when acting as part of a nation, than He wants us to act in our personal affairs, He would have told us this, and He would have said that His command not to resist evil, did not apply to the affairs of Nations. But Jesus never did this. People who call themselves Christians, and who pretend we should fight on behalf of nations, are looking for an excuse not to follow Jesus. For both nations and individuals one strong motivation of nearly all attacks, is the desire to get the first strike or first blow in against someone we fear will attack us. If this fear is eliminated, then most attacks will be disappear. And this fear will be eliminated if any nation or individual pledges publicly to follow Jesus’ command not to resist evil, and proves it is willing to stand by its pledge. Individuals or nations who will be more likely to attack someone who has made this pledge, will be far outnumbered by individuals and nations who will not fight with that person because they no longer fear that person, and the nations or individuals who would be more likely to attack, will be weaker than other nations, because fewer other nations or individuals will cooperate with them, and as more of us come to see the folly of resistance, they will become almost entirely isolated, and their violence will come to be seen as the result of mental illness that it is. Most People who do attack a nation or an individual who refuses to resist evil, will soon realize they would be much better off with the wiling, eager, and voluntary cooperation of their victim, than they would be with a victim who does not resist their evil, but who is not eager to cooperate with a hated oppressor, and they will soon stop attacking that victim, so long as that attacker is not confused by the fear that will arise if that victim resists, and that has kept most of us from seeing the folly of resistance, throughout history. People throughout our world are coming more and more to see the folly of resistance that Jesus saw nearly 2,000 years ago, and finally I believe that a significant number of people will soon choose to follow Jesus by choosing not to resist evil. If this happens then soon the overwhelming majority of us, will see the folly of resistance, by seeing how much better those people’s lives will be than our lives,

Of course it is fear that keeps us from seeing the folly of resistance now, and for this reason it is the most powerful individuals and nations that have the least excuse for committing violence, and also for this reason it is one of the most powerful nations that will probably be the first nation to renounce violence. Because I belong to the most powerful nation on earth, (The United States), and because I know this, I am especially disgusted by violence sponsored by the United States government. I know that because of Its great power the United States should already have renounced violence, because as Jesus tells us, “Whoever has been given much, much will be demanded of him.” (Lk 12:48).

After every war everyone who was involved in that war bemoans the folly that led him or her to fight, but before and during every war we refuse to learn from Jesus that we will be better off if we avoid war and fighting by not resisting evil.

It is often hard for us to believe that not resisting evil will always help us more than it will hurt us, because we often imagine ourselves trying not to resist evil, without also trying to do everything else Jesus tells us to do. Trying to do anything Jesus tells us to do will help us do everything else Jesus tells us to do, though, and will increase the benefits that will come to us from trying to follow Jesus. These benefits will be greatest if we try to do all that Jesus tells us to do. With regard to trying not to resist evil, Jesus’ other commands that will help us the most, are His commands, “Give to every one who asks of you, and do not ask one who takes from you to give anything back.” (Lk 6:30 (27-36), see also Mt 5:42- 48), “Sell your possessions and give alms. Provide yourself with wealth that will not grow old, an unfailing treasure in the heavens that no thief will come near to, and that no moth will corrupt.” (Lk 12:33, see also Lk 18:18-25, & Mt 19:16-24), and “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in the heavens. … It will be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Lk 18:18-25, see also Mt 19:16-24, Lk 12:33, & Mk 10:17-25). Doing these things will create great good will toward us, and will greatly reduce the number of people who will try to attack us. (For even though most people who might try to attack us are rich not poor, if those people know that most poor people are fond of us, then they will fear that those poor people might stand with us against their attacks.)

With regard to disobeying Jesus’ command not to resist evil, all other American presidential candidates would make mistakes very similar to Obama’s mistakes, so choosing another candidate will do nothing to ameliorate this problem. And because of the many things he will do correctly in other areas, Obama is still probably a better choice than any other candidate. It would be a shame if a man like Obama, who is obviously working hard to do many things the right way, were to end up being remembered primarily for starting one of the most destructive wars in the history of our world. But if he does what he has said he will do, then this is how Obama will be remembered, and rightly so, because this would be by far the most significant thing Obama would do as president. I have always said that all politicians are, by definition, reactionary creatures who, if they are honest, will do whatever the majority of their constituents want them to do. And right now it certainly seems as if the majority of the constituents of all governments in our world, sometimes want those governments to fight, even though by doing so those governments do us all great harm. The only way to change this, is to make most people in our world, aware of the fact that fighting always hurts every person involved in a fight more than it helps any of those people. And to prevent the holocaust our world is on the verge of, we must do this soon.

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