July 4th was one of those gorgeous nights where one could turn off the Air-Con and open the windows and let the wind blow a sweet cool breeze through the house to sleep. So I did. I go to bed fairly early, even if I don’t fall right asleep, it gives me time to reflect, think and meditate and pray. As I lay in bed last night I could hear gunfire and bombs bursting in air. Of course they were fake, just firecrackers, M-80’s and fireworks, but I reflected on the sounds of war. No bullets, no collateral damage on the streets of Lancaster, but for hours (actually until 2 AM), I could hear the mimetic sounds of a war celebration.
Last night, all across America, cities and peoples engaged in a ritual, an annual ritual whereby we played ‘pretend war.’ We purchased pretend bombs and lit them off. And I wondered how come we don’t ever play ‘pretend peace?’
I considered how independence often comes through violence and how virtually all national independence is born in war. I sought to enter into the spectacle through the eyes of a child, how as a child I loved fireworks (and in some ways still do), the beauty and awe of a really good display. But I also felt somewhat disconcerted in the fact that had these sounds been accompanied by real ammunition, had tanks been rolling in the streets, had the populace experienced street by street fighting, how that joy and awe would have transformed in a nano-second into extreme fear and anxiety.
Last night, all across America, cities and peoples engaged in a ritual, an annual ritual whereby we played ‘pretend war.’ We purchased pretend bombs and lit them off. And I wondered how come we don’t ever play ‘pretend peace?’ How come peacemaking and being a peacemaker is seen as the wimpy way out? How come Jesus’ admonition to ‘turn the other cheek’ is mitigated through torturous hermeneutics? Where have all the flowers gone? And is the answer really blowing in the wind?
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