Saturday, May 14, 2011

Train to the City

Boarded a train— left the prairie behind
Heard the wheels rumble over the train track
And I looked out the window at hills flashing by
And I vowed that I never would go back.

The city was busy. The cab drivers shouted
The sights and the sounds filled my mind
Beneath the skyscrapers, in all the confusion,
I forgot what I had left behind.

'Midst smells of the hot dogs and cigarette smoke
And the gum on the sidewalk below,
I wandered around, thinking what I should do
And where would I most like to go.

A museum of paintings was open that day,
So I bought me a pass and looked ‘round.
I saw the whole place, from the top to the bottom
From ceiling right down to the ground.

And it’s strange to report, but a thing that I found out
As through that museum I did roam:
Amongst all those paintings the ones I liked best
Were the ones that remind me of home.

Boarded a train— bade the city farewell
But told it one day I’d stop by.
And my heart sang a song as the train sped along
Toward my home ‘neath the wide prairie sky.

~ © Andrea Grace

Monday, May 2, 2011

Why I Refuse To Mourn the Death of Osama bin Laden

     Osama bin Laden has apparently kicked the bucket. And rightly so, say I! To be scrupulously honest, I’m not exactly sure as to the specific list of crimes he committed, but being that he surely was an Islamic terrorist who was repeatedly labeled a “butcher,” and undoubtedly a malevolent fiend who was responsible for a considerable share of unjust deaths, I most firmly believe that the world is better off without him. However, I was reading on Facebook that there are those who believe that we should mourn the passing of said butcher. That he was a murder and a terrorist is undisputed, but the fact that we may believe with ninety-nine point nine percent certainty that his soul rode the one-way train to You-Know-Where is not something we should be pleased about.

     I don’t know about that.

     I myself am quite immensely elated about this whole thing. I have absolutely no compassion for men who torture and slay innocent human beings. The only people in this equation who deserve compassion are the innocent human beings who are being tortured and slain. In some cases, like this one, you cannot love both the victim and the aggressor. I firmly believe this. I don’t care how many times people tell me to pray for the soul of the murderer as well as the families of his victims. I won’t do it. My prayers are devoted entirely to the children who no longer have parents and the parents who no longer have children. And it’s not just Osama bin Laden. Every sick, murdering psychopath who has ever eluded the death sentence. Why do we allow these monsters to prosper?

     I mean, if we just take a second to think about this! How would you feel? How would you feel if some psychotic lunatic kidnapped your precious little five-year-old daughter and took her far away? How would you feel if, for years, you could not sleep because no one knew what happened to her? And then how would you feel if they finally found her body and told you that for two days this sick, sadistic madman tortured her and abused her sexually and finally killed that innocent little girl? Or maybe even something more common. Your sister went out by herself one night and never came back because she and her boyfriend had a fight and he stabbed her to death in a fit of rage. How would you feel? How would you react? Do you even care? Are you enraged that this man took her from the world? Because you love your sister, and now she’s gone. Your little girl. She’s gone. And there is someone to blame. Why are you not angry? Why do you not want to watch these murderers kick and gasp for air at the end of a noose as the life ebbs from their bodies? Someone you love was in agony, and she was terrified. And now she is dead. You’re not a saint for saying you mourn the passing of a butcher or a terrorist. You just aren’t thinking of the victims because you do not know them. These were real people. Once they walked and laughed and loved, and their hearts beat and they sang songs and told jokes. Once upon a time, they had families that loved them. And because a man chose to wield the destructive power that is in all of us, they are gone. And in some cases, they spent their last moments on earth in agony so intense that words will never be enough to describe it. Murder victims are never real to us because we usually only hear of them after they are no longer here. They are nothing more than ghosts. Just stories of what once was. Their lives do not matter to us. Only the fact that they died makes them important. But wake up. Once they lived.

     We Christians feel like we need to bury this righteous rage, and we pull all sorts of little verses out of their proper context to support this. I saw that someone was using Ezekiel 33:11 for this. Something about how God does not rejoice when the wicked perish, but prefers it when they turn from their ways. However, if you take these words in context, all the Bible is saying here is that the followers of Christ have a responsibility to inform the wicked in no uncertain terms that they are being wicked. Basically the gist was that God doesn't like to condemn people who don't know any better. That's all. But you can't tell me that anyone has to be told that murder is wrong. They know better. We all know better.

     Perhaps this post sounds angry. Maybe it is. I hate murder so much. I hate it. Because it’s not right! It’s not right! We are so desensitized. The crime of taking an innocent human life is so fundamentally and monumentally wrong, and we’ve largely forgotten that. But these people know. They know that they can take advantage of a system that bends over backwards to be “fair” to every sick murderer out there. They know that they can play on the feelings of every sheltered American who is part of a culture that has lost sight of the fact that some people are just scum. Why do we not hold them responsible? Why do we insist that every living man is the same as another and that murderers deserve the same rights as saints? Murderers are human. But that just makes it worse. It’s worse than if they were animals. Animals do not know better. Men do. These people are laughing at you. Do you realize that? They know that they can rape and torture and murder and that you will never think of them as the demons they are. They take advantage of our emotions and our flawed systems.

     Come on, people. Wake up. You say you have compassion. Why are you wasting it on a man who knew exactly what he was doing? Why are you ignoring the scared, broken, hurting people whose lives were destroyed just because he decided that evil was more fun than virtue? You cannot love both the killer and his victim. You can’t do it. And it is perfectly natural, and I will even say right, to have a certain level of celebration when you hear of the death of a murderer. It’s not arrogant. It’s not bitter. A love of justice, which is really nothing more or less than love for the victims, is nothing to be ashamed of.

     I have compassion. I mourn the deaths of thousands, millions, billions of innocent people throughout the world who have been slain by men who knew they could get away with it. I care about them, and I care about their families. And it is for this reason that the news that some people are actually telling us to mourn the passing of a murdering psycho makes me very, very angry. Osama bin Laden was a human being. Ted Bundy was a human being. Velma Barfield, John Gacy, Diane Downs, Richard Ramirez, all of these people were human. And all of them murdered other humans. They knew what they were doing. And they did not care. On a practical level, these particular people were too dangerous to live. But on a different and deeper level, they violated and destroyed the image of God. We cannot let that pass. We cannot pretend that these people are the same as and as innocent as normal human beings. That is a dangerous and disgusting fantasy. They became murderers through their own volition. Whereas the victims had no choice. You can’t love them both. Who are you going to side with?

     I believe that Osama bin Laden, Ted Bundy, John Gacy, and all the rest forfeited the right to be treated like ordinary human beings when they began to act like beasts. These people are responsible for their actions. We may not hold them accountable, but God surely will. And I, on behalf of all the innocents who are now silent forever, am most definitely pleased about that.