He’s a Christian soldier. Outside of my least favorite children’s song, that is (at least to me) a ridiculous oxymoron. His life choice is to defend the interests of a country that is not even our own. He told me that I wouldn’t be speaking English right now if he didn’t do what he does. If we didn’t go to war. But I tell him that what language I speak matters little next to my relationship with God. And I think, you’re not my hero. You, who left your pregnant wife alone to give birth while you ship out to a war you signed up willing to fight, are not my hero.
In the wake of all our tragedies and terrors of late, American people are asking how do we best handle these crazy situations. Ebola, ISIS, police brutality. We seem to be a society without the ability to respond to situations with compassion and without violence. I can’t tell you how many posts I’ve read rebuking the government for considering sending our soldiers to help deal with Ebola. Why are they so offended? Because we would be risking these soldiers lives. Isn’t that what they signed up for? To risk their lives. Yes, they say, but to risk their lives for us, for the United States citizens. God forbid they risk their lives to help someone else. God forbid they save lives rather than taking them. But no, I’m the crazy one because I say that violence is sin. When I say that I would have killed Hitler, you insist we are saying the same thing. No, I am telling you that it would be wrong, but I would do it. You are saying that it’s right, that’s why you do it.
I’ve seen the American people mature right before my eyes these past few weeks. The motivation I thought was long gone has been brought to the surface after these police shootings and the refusal to hold the shooters accountable. The people have risen up and called it unacceptable. But this corruption is still embedded in our culture from top to bottom and evidenced in our reaction to ISIS. We have a hero complex. Yes, we rise against the police brutality. No, not everyone is on board. Many defend the police calling it ‘the hard job’ that someone’s got to do. The very same thing we say about ISIS. We are willing to call out the issues when they manifest on the very bottom, but we still look at it as heroism at the top. It’s our whole culture. Why do you think the police chase down the purse thief and let slide the white collar thieves who steal lives and livelihoods? We admire those who can get away with more. And the US military gets away with the most. We can train a terror cell who turns on US and call ourselves heroes for hunting them down. And when we create another terrorist cell by hunting down our trained and armed ex-patriots, we call ourselves heroes and demand respect. Do our people rise against this evil? Nope. The massive amount of lives lost don’t matter so much to those of us who fill the streets to protest the death of three. We recognize a trend in the murder of three men of the same color, but don’t have the knowledge, or maybe it’s drive to stand against the murder (yes, murder) of hundreds of thousands. Why?
As her fingers close around my neck, my training kicks in. Yes, she is twice my size, ok maybe more. Yes, she could kill me. But I am trained to deal with this. As my head slams into the wall twice, I slip my thumbs under her grasping hands push up hard and bend my knees. This releases her grasp on my throat. I, then use the voice I was trained to use to issue a command to sit. Before I lose it, I call someone over to supervise her while I survey the damage done. You know what’s funny? I never once thought…’I should shoot her. That would stop this from happening.’ And that doesn’t make me a hero! I promise you, that is the very least I could do.
I am a Christian pacifist. I believe that if we desire to be like Christ; we will follow His words, His example above all else. And when we don’t live up to His words we will consider it a failure, not a victory. I’m not a political theorist. I’m no politician. I never would make a good one, because I’m not afforded the luxury of a clean conscience when I am responsible for innocent deaths, for insisting that America’s will is God’s as well, and because I am told to lay my life down for my enemies. But mostly because I have an imagination that allows me to see other possible solutions. I can imagine us sponsoring education, rebuilding what we’ve broken and not demanding that it’s heroic to do so, I can imagine shutting down the streets all over the world until what’s Right is done. I can imagine those everyday heroic acts that we’ve seen under the I can’t breathe hashtag making a difference. And those are everyday heroic, not even praise them in the streets heroic. Simple everyday heroes who do what’s right before what’s practical, easy, or urgent.