I don’t know how to express what I’m trying to express here. But I feel like I have to put the thought somewhere lest I get too distracted by it. Last weekend, in Florida, a man went into a nightclub and shot a lot of people. 49 people are dead. Many more wounded. A news report yesterday suggests that there are still 4-6 critical patients who may sadly add to the death toll, or carry severe lifelong disability. This club was nightclub for the gay community (I don’t know the proper/PC term to use here). He used several firearms – including a semi-automatic long rifle with detachable magazine, and a couple handguns. He is Muslim. He made claims of inspiration by several Islamic terror groups to 911 operators, and his own backstory is complicated to say the least as the stories are pieced together. This week the news, the social media talking heads, the politicians – they’ve all been on overdrive. And it’s a real mess out there. It’s with that backdrop that my mind has been dwelling on the content of this post. I’ll try and keep the thoughts together, and maybe I’ll even manage to come up with a title. Dislcaimer – Perhaps this is hypocritical. To write and publish thoughts like this while being frustrated with the media, the social media, the hyper charged partisan environment, the ignoring of pain. I acknowledge that and apologize, but I’m comforted by the fact that this blog of my personal is much more rarely traveled than my technology blog.. Here Goes.
Dear Person Who Would Seek to Terrorize America,
Stop. It’s a waste of time. I understand the various motives that exist. Perhaps you are frustrated about our involvement in the Middle East. Perhaps you don’t like our warrant-less foreign drone killing program. Maybe you adhere to an orthodox version of your faith which seeks physical subjugation and conquest to spread your ideology. Maybe you are a racist American who thinks this nation is wrong for (sort of) getting over the Civil Rights struggles. Whatever reason. Let’s just stipulate that you want to destroy America. You want to weaken our foundations. You want to turn us into a barren and smoky wasteland where once a great nation stood. Maybe you think that some great event or series of smaller events will make the news focus on the fear, the terror and the horror and that Americans will become too afraid to do anything and thus commerce will grind to a halt and you can shout about how you terrorized us. About how you paralyzed us.
I am not passing judgment on your goals here. We disagree, but let’s just leave it at that. You don’t need to bother. That’s all. I’m trying to save you time, effort, physical pain and the expense of training and equipping. We seem to be heading towards the desired ultimate outcome of paralysis, inability to execute, etc. on our own… I’ll explain in light of the recent shooting. This shooting caused no fear. And we were too busy to even notice what we noticed on 9/11. No patriotic songs will be written. No bipartisan renditions of patriotic hymns. Sure a few vigils here and there, some genuine vigils, some a combination of genuine and “issues oriented rah rah rally”, mostly, though, we’re too busy to be terrorized.
Now the American spirit isn’t one that gets easily terrorized anyway. I mean 200 years ago, a bunch of farmers, former Royal soldiers, lawyers, bakers, inventors, pastors and philosophers decided to fight the worlds’ most powerful army – and won. We have a steely resolve and we can’t be terrorized, it’s just not in our DNA. But I’m not talking about that here. We haven’t even been able to go into our “You can’t terrorize us!” mode, like SNLs “Is it okay to be funny again? Why start now?” response after 9/11.
We’re too busy to let you terrorize us. I don’t mean that flippant “I aint even got the time to be terrorized” use of busy.
I mean we are too.busy.to.be.terrorized.
… Giving litmus tests
… Taking litmus tests
… Judging (please note I’m not saying read Matthew 7:1 and stop reading)
… Fighting over nuanced positions
… Doing what the politicians on our team tell us to do
… Watching CNN’s voyeuristic replay over replay of the footage of bullets with interviews designed to make two politicians fight over soundbites and stoke interest and make you sit there, or MSNBC’s repetitive footage about why guns are bad and Republicans are bad. Or FoxNews’ repetitive coverage about why Islamic extremism is bad and Democrats are bad.
… RTing, sharing, posting all this nonsense that the others in our corner shared
… Fighting about Presidential politics – which are especially weird and Kindergarten like this year
… Arguing about why this is a perfect example of why our pet issues (guns, gay rights, anti gay this or that, anti gun this or that, immigration policy, Islam vs other faiths, Watch lists, FBI effectiveness) matter.
… et cetera
Basically – we cannot be terrorized. We’re too busy to even notice. We’ve mostly been too busy to even notice that fellow human beings are suffering. There are 5 stages of grief, well that’s what some psychologists say (Denial/Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance). Nationally we seem to only know two. “Anger, bitter Anger bordering on hatred…” and “Next!”…
So you can’t terrorize us. We won’t even notice we are supposed to be terrorized. We’ll just yell and scream at each other. Normally, I’d suggest to you that that is still an effective outcome. And you should still try and get to us – inspire this loathing. Inspire this yelling. Inspire this bitter divisiveness through giving us attacks to fight over. But I have to be honest with you, save your energy for some other nation.
Here’s what I mean.. That shooting in Orlando? It didn’t actually create a single new fault line. It was just a frost heave that moved a few around and brought a new one to the surface. That would have happened with another news story if not this one. It didn’t cause Americans to start doing these things. It didn’t actually cause CNN, Fox or MNSBC to change their formatting. It didn’t really change the dialog nationally about these issues. Basically, you just need to be patient. Relax, enjoy the weather wherever you are. Be patient and wait us out. We are imploding all by ourselves here. The 24 hour news cycle, the social media proliferation, the politicians invading our sanctuaries (whether that is a church, a social club, a group bonded together by some common social issue they fight for, etc). The “Either Or” nature of the world. We’re doing it to ourselves.
So just stop wasting your time. The hatred, rancor and anger is far worse than anything you can do here. And in all honesty? You run a risk of a serious enough attack actually uniting us on one ore more of these fronts. There is actually a risk that something could be so drastic that you’d make us have a period of unity across these fissures which society, politicians and social media tell us to be apart over. Then your goals are set back even a bit further.
I can’t end it there. As a Christian. As a human. As a father. As a husband. As a son. As a friend. I can’t leave it there. But I have to say – some exaggeration and hyperbole aside – I believe those words above are truer than they aren’t. And truer now than 10 or 20 years ago.
My plea is that we’d stop. My plea is that we’d listen. Sure I have my pet issues. As a believer there are things I believe in adamantly. But one of those things is this sense underneath it all that I am to treat others with dignity. Even when we disagree on something so critical or central to what may make us up. Even something so core that if you don’t work a little at it and don’t remember the love and dignity and respect first that it should be something to divide over and break friendship over even. But yet I manage to have friends who aren’t believers. Friends who are but don’t read the Bible as I do. Friends who are gay and see no Biblical prohibition or problem. Friends who are and say “whatever”. Friends who are Muslim. Friends who are Yankees fans. Friends who like Oracle as a Database Platform. Friends who think farm raised eggs are weird because they can’t fathom getting food from anywhere other than a supermarket. Friends who think Global Warming is completely man made and the data they look at shows it. Friends who think the data is faked there and think it’s a scam. Etc.
So I say this as someone who has sincerely held beliefs. Who believes things that are disagreeable to probably more of his friends than agreeable.. Stop. Let’s stop.
We have to stop this rancor. This bitterness. This divisiveness. This go team stuff. We need to realize that to some extent “things are going to be what they are going to be” . We all have so much to change with ourselves, our own families, our own jobs. We can stop trying to change the whole world ourselves and work on these things.
As a Christian, I exhort my fellow Christians to remember who is over all things here. Who is the ruler who rules over rulers. We serve the God who overcomes and overcame and will overcome all things and all evil. We should work to make this world a better world for our fellow humans whether they believe or don’t. I believe God uses us for common grace offered to all. I believe that as Christ’s elect we have a special duty to be kind and gentle to those created in his image who don’t yet acknowledge His rule. Partially in hopes that they are his elect and just don’t know it yet. Partially because we are to be decent and loving and repay evil with kindness and repay negativity with positivity. Partially because we who have tasted grace should know all the more how much grace means – how it works. We should remember how little we deserved it ourselves and should be aware of just how true Romans 3 is of our natural selves. (I’m not saying be a welcome mat, but loving a neighbor who is different isn’t being a welcome mat, even if our political team spokespeople want to make you feel like it is. And that’s the problem. Our litmus tests and urge to categorize has many people snowed that “being decent and loving to another human who disagrees on maybe even core issues is tantamount to aiding and abetting the enemy.” IT ISN’T!)
And when we stop. We need to start something else. We need to look around and see other human beings. With beating hearts. Bills to pay. Stress at home. Family situations that are sad. Loved ones dying. Pains. Struggles. We need to see that we are all in this thing called life together. That we are more similar than the “spokespeople” and rabble rousers let us realize.
Sure I believe Truth exists. Sure I am confident that the Word of God is the only true and infallible rule for faith and practice. I’d die before denouncing that. But part of that rule for faith and practice says I’m to be at peace with all as much as it depends on me. Part of it says I am to walk an extra mile when pressed into walking a mile for a soldier who has subjugated me. Part of it says I am to walk across the street, go to the stranger who belongs to a group that would normally rip me apart and tend to their needs..
We aren’t doing that. And if you don’t have this raw, eye watering, sore throat feeling when you stop and think about what happened in Orlando last weekend, I pray that you get it. If you have to pause and say a few caveats first. If you won’t accept grief from another because they haven’t passed enough litmus tests to be acceptable to you I pray that you’ll change your heart.
The Bible suggests we should weep with those who weep. We should mourn with those who mourn. We used to be a nation that did that. Yes, if we start doing this, then we’d potentially be susceptible to terrorism and terrorist antics, we’d actually notice the impact. But then our unity and indomitable spirit would be the reasons why it wouldn’t work. Instead of ” don’t bother we’re already imploding all by ourselves.”