Among this week’s chronicles revealing that the proliferation of violence in our world has certainly not abated, there was the disturbing report of a terrorist attack in Canada’s parliament. Many of us were shocked—though more an obligatory response to a dastardly deed than astonished surprise. Our ‘shock mechanisms’ are so overworked these days that it is more an acknowledged concept than a genuine experience. There have always been places in our world where dangerous situations existed, and where life threatening circumstances were commonplace, and we have avoided those places whenever possible. Someone has always been at war with someone else somewhere. What makes our day a bit different is that these wars get exported.
Today’s battlefield may be thousands of miles away from the heated epicenter of military combat and may not have the classic look of a battlefield at all. Today’s battlefield may be the office building where you work, or the school you attend, or the department store where you shop, or your favorite movie house, or even the church building where you worship. Individuals who consider themselves to be ‘soldiers’ use covert means to sneak their assault weapons into peaceful environs, places where no physical or military conflict exists at all. Once there, they expose their weapons and train them on randomly chosen people. Uninvolved and innocent individuals suddenly become ‘the enemy’ and as such, worthy of death. The act of killing of these people is not a strategic military action, and those who lose their lives do not die as soldiers voluntarily engaged in combat. The kind of killing that took place in Canada, and in Oklahoma, and at Ft. Hood, and in Boston and other places was nothing more than premeditated murder. The victims were just ordinary people, going about their daily routines—unsuspecting, unaware, unprepared, unable to defend themselves, and unworthy of such treatment. No wonder they call this kind of warfare ‘terrorism’.
But you already know all that. Your TV screen has no doubt been graced with one or more of the endless parade of young, attractive, mostly blonde, ‘info-babe’ news anchors who have gotten to you way ahead of me, and that’s OK, because my objective is not to try to compete with them. The thing that intrigues me, as I wade through the daily dose of evil and violence that we call ‘news’, is the realization that we should add ‘death’ to our list of imported products, especially from some regions of the world. We produce quite enough domestically and don’t need a foreign variety added to it. Since our government wants to control all of the products that get imported here, we should definitely include death on the list and try to monitor more closely.
Monitoring its influx is difficult, though, because of the pesky packaging issue. Imported death, you see, slips into our country securely wrapped inside human beings. It makes the trip to our country and penetrates our borders, well preserved in the minds, hearts, and bodies of human beings. We would prefer not to import this ‘product’ and strongly advocate against it, but it manages to sneak in anyway. That is largely attributable to the fact that the ‘packages’ it comes in are never properly labeled. Perhaps someone should alert our government about that. You can’t get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich these days without being told (whether you want to know such things or not) how many calories, fat grams, and percentages of daily whatever are included. We should demand that a helpful ‘ideological ingredients’ label be tattooed on folks who want to come here. Then we could scan them and know at a glance some really important stuff, like what percentage of religious fervor do they have, and how many grams of ideological zeal are included in this immigrant wannabe, and do they exceed the recommended daily allowances? It could cut out a lot of unnecessary death, couldn’t it? The whole Ebola crisis has us scrambling to figure out how not to import more death hiding in people coming from certain regions of Africa. At least we can check their temperature and ask some questions about where they’ve been. When it comes to deadly ideologies, though, there’s no convenient physical symptom that we can isolate and easily monitor. We can’t tell what’s hiding in people until the contents begin to be displayed.
I have an idea . . . Since we apparently can’t stop importing death, why don’t we at least work to toward a better ‘balance of trade’ by ramping up the export of a counteractive product of our own? If death can travel to our communities and cross all kinds of borders and boundaries, could not life do the same thing? If an ideology that fosters and promotes violence and death can manage to thrust its destructive produce upon us in the places where we work, and into our schools, our stores, our churches, and our homes, couldn’t the message of life do the same thing? If death travels in people, doesn’t it make sense that life could do so as well? Couldn’t we penetrate the checkpoints and carry life into places where death seems to reign? As a matter of fact, didn’t Jesus do exactly that? John declared of Jesus,
“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” John 1:4 (NKJV), and again, “… God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life” 1 John 5:11-12 (NKJV). Did not the One who brought life impart that life into us, as well? Paul reduces the ‘mystery’ of the ages to this, “… Christ in you, the hope of glory” Colossians 1:26-27 (NKJV).
If a message of death and the lethal behaviors that support it can be so effectively exported and delivered in human packages, we need to remember that their success lives in our failure. We have a product to export as well. Just as the message and the mechanics of death pour forth from those in whom it dwells, so must the message and the mechanics of the life that Jesus brings pour forth from us. We’ve got a trade imbalance going on here, and it’s time to balance the scales.
© 2014 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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