Barcelona Benediction

Barcelona Benediction

Detours in Life

Pentecost 32

 

Over two decades ago I moved to another part of the country that was heavily populated.  As is the case with large metropolitan areas, several of the major thoroughfares were under construction.  Detours were in place as roadways were rehabbed, refurbished, and retooled for the increasing number of cars and trucks that traveled them daily.  For ten years we followed the detour signs until the detours became more familiar than the actual interstate highway.

 

The mayhem and chaos of terrorist attacks have once again taken over the international news.  The scenes of crowds running, people being sheltered in place, and the all-too-familiar wail of emergency responders replaced the sounds of a busy city this week in Barcelona, Spain.

 

As is my habit, this blog went dark out of respect for the double-digit number of victims killed and the greater number physically injured.  Such events make even the strongest of us want to hide in our houses and crawl under the covers.  This is not the time for silence, however.  It is a time for action.

 

The Barcelona attack on Thursday was not an isolated event.  Wednesday night a house exploded killing one person in the Spanish town of Alcanar and injuring the firefighters and police who responded to the call.  Thursday a white van careened onto a crowded pedestrian mall in Barcelona with the afore-mentioned casualties.  Spanish Police on Friday shot and killed five people wearing fake bomb belts who staged a car attack in a seaside resort in Spain’s Catalonia region hours.  Authorities said the back-to-back vehicle attacks — as well as the explosion earlier this week elsewhere in Catalonia— were connected and the work of a large terrorist group.

 

Today crowds chanted “No tinc por” meaning “I’m not afraid” in Plaça de Catalunya, Barcelona following the minute silence observed for the victims of the attack in the city.  This is not the time to cower, believing our silence will not only save us but prevent future attacks.  We need to respect freedom of speech and we can without condoning violence.

 

Last weekend a rally was held in Charlottesville, Virginia, the home of the US President Thomas Jefferson.  The result was bedlam and the death of three people, one attending a protest rally to the original white supremacist/nep-Nazi rally and the other two law enforcement answering the call to assist in trying to resolve chaos.  The events Charlottesville were neither sad nor tragic; they were failure. The so-called supremacists did not act supreme in any way. The other side did not show love for all – emphasize – all. We cannot say we are better if we do not act it. We cannot claim love for all mankind if we only mean we love those we like.   At the end of the day, Charlottesville was a lesson in identifying none of us are supreme, right, or seeing the “other” person as equal. It was a mirror reflecting misguided energy.

 

Instead of traveling to march, we need to walk… walk across town to feed the poor, help the homeless, tutor a child, donate to your community, hold the door and smile at a stranger. The best way to support your vision of and for humanity is to be humane.  Instead of spending money on training camps for future terrorists, we should spend money on feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, discovering cures for the illnesses that affect all people.

 

Nature cannot exist apart from its many segments. The sun dries up the rain as it creates new life. Animals need plants; water needs the soil for filtration. We all have a purpose, not a place.   We failed in Charlottesville.  The terrorists failed in Spain.   No death should be a battle cry. It should become a motivation for us all to be better, to use the life we have to live humanely. We are, after all, human – all of us.  What will we choose – chaos or community?

 

William Faulkner believed as those in Barcelona did today that our best respect for those who have perished is to speak up.  “Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.”

 

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In Memoriam

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This blog will honor those senselessly killed in Orlando with prayer and no written posts until June 18th.  May we one day learn that faith does not involve killing and that all have an unalienable right to live.

You or Me?

You…or Me?

Lent

 

For the past forty-one days during Lent we have grown a garden.  Our harvest will hopefully be a better self.  For all of you out there thinking “It’s my life” or “I am an adult and can do what I want” or even “Who cares what I do?”, let me assure you that you are both right and terribly wrong.

 

We think of our world evolving and ever changing because it is and does.  This is not because it was an imperfect creation, though.  There is great evidence to show that the world of millenniums ago might have been a healthier world than the world in which we are living today.  What is changing our world is us, we the people.

 

Sunday we discussed the phrase “raised by wolves” and how it erroneously is used to insult.  Wolves live very successfully in packs and are very good parents, teaching and nurturing their young.  Wolves also get a very bad rap because they are so very good at what they do – forage and acquire food.  It is often said that they habitat encroaches on mankind’s.  In reality, our habitat infiltrates theirs.  We spread out and build ranches on land that was once theirs to hunt.  They continue the hunting, this time acquiring cattle from those ranches.

 

Decades ago the United States decided to get rid of all the grey wolves in Yellowstone National Park and Forest.  It did not happen overnight but it did happen.  It took until the past ten or fifteen years to reintroduce these animals back into their natural habitat.  Once grey wolves again roamed in Yellowstone, nature began changing…for the betterment of all, even mankind.  The forests flourished, the balance of nature was again restored and the waters flowed smoother and clearer.

 

So why has mankind not been a good visitor to earth?  Because we live selfishly.  This past was a day late due to the death of a very old friend.  This friend was a marvelous filmmaker, once nominated for an academy award and winning at the Sundance Film Festival.  He was a neighbor with whom I walked home from school in elementary school and a classmate later on through high school.  He was a devotee of my father’s interests as I was to his father’s interests.  Our fathers used to say he was the son mine never had and I was the daughter his never had.

 

My friend smoked since before he could legally.  It was the popular and trendy thing to do.  It was perhaps one of the only selfish things he did.  This past week his house burned to the ground with him in it; the cause a cigarette which burned while he slept.  This week his family and friends will say goodbye.

 

Earlier today bombs killed over twenty in Brussels.  Coordinated attacks at the airport and metro stations which, despite the claims, are not following any Prophet but are simply the work of selfish people.  There is no end gain in being selfish.  Even those that seem wealthy and popular are blinded by their own assumed worth.  The recent political candidates currently on the electoral stage in the United States are proof of this.

 

Tomorrow we will discuss how to not live only for ourselves.  The air we breathe is the result of air others breathed.  The trees that help cleanse our air are trees planted by our ancestors, not the ones we planted last year.  We are a product of the past.  What are we leaving for the future?  What are you doing today for a better tomorrow?

A Fragile Peace

A Fragile Peace

Pentecost #173

Eleven minutes of the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month the guns went silent and World War I was ended with the stroke of a pen.  This was not the first nor the last time one group had sought to rule.  In some countries today is known as Armistice Day and in others it is Remembrance Day.  Since 1954, in the United States of America, it has been a day to honor all those who served in the military, Veterans’ Day.

In the Middle East today, thousands protests the beheadings of seven people, including two women and one child.  Protesters from various Afghan communities that included Pashtoons, Hazaras, and Uzbeks were not the only ones protesting, though.  Ethiopians gathered in Addis Ababa to rally against killings in Libya.  Both instances are said to be the work of ISIS.

Mankind was once simply a collection of small groups living among other small groups.  Many believe a prince of Macedonia and student of Aristotle was the world’s first great conqueror.  By the time he turned 22, Alexander the Great had conquered Greece and set his sights on further lands.  In turkey myth and man came together when he cut in half the famous Gordian knot, a knot with which, according to mythology, the Phrygian god Sabazios had once ties an ox cart to a post.  Legend stated that whoever untied the knot would rule the world.  Alexander’s empire eventually reached from Greece to India and many felt he had fulfilled the prophecy of the myth.

Alexander the Great was just one of several world conquerors.  Eleven hundred years earlier Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III inherited the throne at the age of seven.  He established Egypt as a major power and was known for his humane treatment of those he vanquished.  The Romans, as they expanded the Roman Empire to Great Britain, were said to have been successful rulers because they tolerated the continuance of cultural ways of those they conquered.

Fast forward to the thirteenth century ACE and we find the Incas living in the Cuzco Valley of the Andes Mountains in the new World’s southern continent.  By 1438 the Incas had their own great empire that reached from Colombia through Ecuador and Peru into Child and across Bolivia into Argentina.  The Incan emperor Pachacuti not only appropriated lands but also the myths of those they vanquished.  He took the Aymaran god Viracocha and made him one of the supreme deities of the Incans.  At one point, the Incan Empire boasted sic million people.  It had a sophisticated system of roads and they successfully farmed the mountainous regions by creating elaborate terraces and intricate irrigation canals.  With no written language, the Incans preserved their “history” with professional troubadours who used fact, myth, and the legends of other cultures to record their existence – their ethos, their values, their principles, and their living.

The Incan creation myth explained the importance of their being rather than the actual creation of the world.  Some might call it a defense for their life style and their actions in aggressively conquering other tribes.  The Incans believed their rulers were children of the sun and therefore rulers themselves.  It was a defense that Adolf Hitler used in justifying the killing of six million Jewish men, women, and children in the actions that precipitated World War II.

This concept of leaders being gods has come back into fashion, especially in cults.  A cult is often characterized as a religious group that does not allow “free” or independent thinking.  Some might claim all religious groups, due to their being organized with stated doctrines, disallow independent or free thinking.  While we could debate those last two sentences for several months and still not be complete in our discussion, it cannot be denied that those who disagree with extremist groups often end up killed, considered vanquished for the cause.

Nothing good is gained from the senseless killing of innocents, particularly children. Good will always need defending but perhaps one day we can learn to fight with wisdom and grace instead of fear and death.