Sunday, July 20, 2014

Thou Shalt Not Kill

The sixth commandment, "Thou shalt not kill."

Everyone knows it.

The problem with this God, is it's much too vague, too general, too global. Surely you don't mean that there aren't exceptions, that there aren't reasonable rational legal and politically expedient reasons to eliminate some of the people.  I didn't mean when they're in caves across the ocean or not yet born or are part of a rival gang or very old and disabled and can't earn any money anymore or are in jail because they committed nasty crimes or they're whatever it is that we use to declare them worthy of killing. 

I'm reminded of the movie True Lies, where Arnold Schwartzenegger's character has been given sodium pentothal and his wife played by Jamie Lee Curtis just discovered he's a spy.  She asks him, "Have you ever killed anyone?" and he replies, "Yes, but they all were bad."  This satisfies her of the moral ground behind her husband's dual life up to now, killing is fine if they're all bad. 

Almost immediately after this scene, she picks up a semi-automatic in defense of her husband as they escape, but drops it.  The falling gun happens to lay out a sufficient deadly spray to let them get away.  Her husband nods in approval and off the two of them go.   She has swallowed the true lie, killing is fine if they're all bad.  But Hollywood, knowing we'd push back from her gleefully mowing them down Rambo style, exonerates her from the moral taint of actual killing via a lucky firing of the weapon itself as it falls down the stairs.  It is the equivalent of a drone surgical strike.  Bad guys neutralized, no nasty moral aftertaste for our heroine.  

I'm not saying I wouldn't cowboy up if someone came after my children or my hearth and heart (all of them outside of my own) didn't need defending. But Thou Shalt Not Kill is there for a reason, because we would be tempted to weed out those we deem evil and call that weeding good.

God knows we can easily fail to see our enemies as children of God and justify seeing them as less than beloved of God because of whatever makes them our enemies.   It is a natural if fallen response, to justify an evil as not evil if we want to commit or rationalize an evil so we won't have to think about one's enemies as possibly being human. 

Today's gospel tells us otherwise.  Jesus tells us, not someone else, Jesus, about letting the wheat grow up with the weeds, not pulling up one for fear of killing the other.  Weeding out the enemies with drone strikes, with abortion, with euthanasia, with deportation or refusal of basic needs is a form of killing. It is pulling up the wheat with the weeds.   Not our job.  

What is our job?   Ah. The much harder part of the message.   To pray for them.  To love them. 

How the hell do we do that?  They're evil.  They're alien.  They're out to get us in whatever way it is that they are out to get us.  They don't like us.  They hate us.  They don't think like us for whatever reason.  All of that may be true. 

If so, praying for them won't injure us, (in fact it will help us) and it will help them, even if they don't know it.  Maybe one of the reasons we have so much ire is we're too busy pointing out our enemies and declaring them all weeds, and not spending very much if any at all, time praying for them.

Oh, and that's just dealing with the literal absolute ultimate meaning of this particular commandment.  We didn't even get into the nuance of all the ways in which we kill each other by little things like words, lies, slanders, failure to care for the poor, failure to care for our own (neglect), insults, sarcasm, snark --I know, the internet would cease to exist without it, gossip, indifference and allowing ourselves to only consider our own hermetically sealed ways of viewing all things, which allows us to consider all those not hermetically sealed in our approved cocoon, the enemy.   

We don't get to be the weed whackers of God's garden.  It's a good thing too, because all of us, are probably somebody else's weeds.

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