A Used Bullet

From Nathan Brown

It’s a small, rusty piece of metal, but it gives me a chill when I look at it. While visiting Cambodia last year, my wife picked up this used bullet-not the casing, the actual pointed projectile-amid the gravel on a road through an area that was known as a “blood field,” a place of mass killing and mass burial.

It’s a sobering thing to hold in one’s hand and contemplate its probable history. Given its location and the gruesome modern history of Cambodia, it may well have been the means by which someone was killed. This tiny piece of metal tearing through his or her body with horrific speed and shattering impact probably destroyed the life of a unique person, someone who had a family, who had hopes, dreams, and fears; someone who was loved immeasurably by God. All this was ripped away– –extinguished–with the crack of a gun and the sickening thud of this bullet, another nameless victim among the millions in the evil and tragic madness of our world.

Still more disturbing is the realization that this act of brutal and evil destruction is at the heart of the many wars, conflicts, and assorted violence taking place in the world at this moment. This lethal fragment of metal and the many, more diabolical, military “technologies” are the means by which the grand causes of the day are “advanced.” This is the currency-we are told-with which our freedom and prosperity are bought. Contemplating the cold reality of this artifact of a forgotten and horrifying death, we must ask ourselves whether the soul-destroying and life-smashing price is worth the too often self-centered result. Add a single used Cambodian bullet, and the arguments for “just war” seem even more hollow.

At our various days of war remembrance we ostensibly honor those who have died for their respective countries, and this is valid-if that is what we are really doing. But these days are marked most enthusiastically by those in the “victorious” nations. The commemorations would be more awkward if we would label them as days honoring those who have killed for their countries. That is what we have asked and continue to ask the young people of our various nations to do. With political-speak, media spin, denial, and ignorance, we gloss over the stark reality of one group of people using high-powered pieces of metal to tear to shreds another group of people, and vice versa. War is death.

Albert Camus summed it up well: “There are causes worth dying for, but none worth killing for.” He was borrowing heavily from a teacher named Jesus. Jesus said-and showed-there are causes worth dying for. He told His disciples that “the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends” (John 15:13).

Jesus was not interested in His disciples killing to protect Him from arrest and death (see Matt. 26:51-54). In Jesus’ teaching, not only did He affirm the commandment against killing; He said we should not be angry or hold a grudge (see Matt. 5:21-26) and that we should love our enemies (see verses 43-48), meaning that we should take active steps to seek their good. This world-changing command was echoed by Paul’s instruction that we should “conquer evil by doing good” (Rom. 12:21).

If we are to take Jesus seriously, we need to recognize the power of goodness, the strength of weakness, and the force of humility. It seems, ironically, that if more people were prepared to die for goodness, there would be less need for killing in the name of the various causes employed to justify armed conflicts.

Holding the cold Cambodian bullet brings a fresh understanding as to why “those who work for peace . . . will be called the children of God” (Matt. 5:9).


Immigration Update

From Carrie Patrick

“The US Senate set its sights on passing a bill granting legal status to 12 million illegal immigrants, despite claims by opponents that the move is tantamount to a mass amnesty.

The fragile coalition of lawmakers behind the deal hopes to cling together despite an expected flurry of amendments designed to kill a measure that would form a key plank of President George W Bush’s legacy. The bill, agreed last month with the White House, would also establish a merit-based points system for future immigrants and institute a low-wage temporary worker programme. It includes a border security crackdown, punishments for employers who hire illegal immigrants and an attempt to wipe out a backlog of visa applications from those who have gone through legal immigration channels.”  MORE

“History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.”

—Abba Eban

New AWP Blog Facilitator

Hello Fellow Peacemakers,

This is really my last post on this site, so please write in with your concerns and ideas for peace.

Although I resigned as editor a while back, I set this new site up, with a place to discuss issues easily.

Dr. Lourdes Morales-Gudmundsson will be keeping the blog going. Just enter your comments here, on any post on this new site or on the previous site-adventistwomen4peace.weblogger.com, as long as it’s still available.

Lourdes is one of the founding members of Adventist Women for Peace. Her email address is- lmorales@lasierra.edu. Please also take a look at her new blog for her work in the field of forgiveness, Our Lady of Forgiveness.

Victoria Bresee

Give me a firing squad!

Please, please, if you need to kill me, just shoot me.

“Suppose someone you love was brutally murdered, an innocent life taken in vain. You might want an eye for an eye, a life for a life. But the very system designed to deliver justice for such unspeakable acts has perpetrated acts of its own. The United States is the only Western civilization that imposes the death penalty.” More. . .

Just the other day the 200th death row inmate was released after DNA evidence showed that he had not committed the crime he was accused of, after losing 20 years of his life.

In Florida, last December, it took 34 minutes to kill Angel Diaz, by lethal injection. Past horror stories have described electrocutions, with the flesh starting to sizzle and then flames rising from the head of the human being, like a piece of meat on a grill with the heat too high.

Today we read about an execution that was so inept that the man in the middle of watching people attempt to kill him at least ten times, spread throughout an hour, had to ask for a timeout to use the restroom.

This is not an article about the pros and cons of the death penalty. But, do you realize that the Supreme Court, “in an unusual” ruling “cited the ‘overwhelming weight of international opinion’ in banning executions of those under 18. Justice Kennedy, noted that the U.S was the only country in the world that still officially permitted the execution of juveniles. He wrote that since 1990, only seven countries have executed persons under 18. They are Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and China. However, all of these countries have since publicly disavowed the practice. Justice Kennedy also noted that the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits the juvenile death penalty, has been ratified by every country except Somalia and the United States.”

During the last few years, reading about humans being decapitated, or blown up unexpectedly, or even unfortunately seeing the ghoulish hangings in the Middle East, I found myself repulsed and thinking, “how primitive!”

But, it is incredible, without excuse whatever, that a country with the technology of the US, since it chooses to kill humans, cannot do a better job.

This is as barbaric as the Middle Ages, with its guillotines, except the guillotines probably worked much better.

I cringed when I read the title of a new offering from one of my book clubs, by Geoffrey Abbot, described this way–

“It’s not easy being an executioner—especially when the job doesn’t go right. Like when the condemned unexpectedly pops up to make a quip when he should have sunk without a word. Or, when an eyeball pops out of a victim’s head during an electrocution. From bungled decapitations in the 16th century to botched lethal injections in the 20th, The Executioner Always Chops Twice is a grisly and bizarre anthology of more than 80 executions that didn’t go exactly as planned.” Want to order it and read how they continue throughout the 20th century?

Public Notice: If I have to be executed, please send me to a more compassionate or technologically advanced country than the United States of America, for a guillotine or a firing squad. Like I bet that the eight countries mentioned above, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, China and Somalia have perfected the procedure.

Victoria Bresee

The Golden Rule +

The blogger at soulpeacelove=God posted this take on the Golden Rule–

“Besides my regular job, I do some consulting work. As an illustration, the owner of the consulting company often asks the client’s marketing department to quote the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Then he tells them the platinum rule of marketing: “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”

The problem with the golden rule, he says, is that some people do not want to be treated the way you want to be treated. You want someone to look you in the eye and ask about your family. They don’t want you to pry. You want someone to take the time to do the transaction with the highest level of quality. They want to get through the line quickly. You think someone should address you as Mr. So and so. It makes them feel old.

Not to mention that some people treat themselves horribly (sometimes I am included in this group). They overstress themselves and do not allow enough time for relaxation.

. . .I use the Platinum rule every day as I face the world. I try to never think about what I would want or need in the same position, but what does the other person truly want and need. Often, they are different.”

For the entire post go to soulpeacelove=god.

Victoria Bresee

Where are we headed?

I admit that I loved to sing “Onward Christians Soldiers, Marching off to War” as a child. We all really got into the military movements with foot stomping and arm swaying, imagining ourselves as God’s little soldiers. But, as a more aware adult, many of the old favorites have lost their appeal. This quote is from John Shelby Spong–

“We Christians are pilgrims walking into the mystery of God, not soldiers marching off to war. There is a great difference.”

Victoria Bresee