Today, just as every Saturday, at a local intersection, I stood vigil for war veterans, civilians and soldiers. As I held a sign which reads “Love. Not War. Love,” I contemplated the combat overseas, the recent tragedy in Mumbai, India, the protracted wars in Iraq, Afghanistan. The situations in Israel and Iran, were not far from my consciousness. Threats and acts of terrorism, nations in turmoil; thoughts of a desired global tranquility filled my mind. I imagined, as I do daily, a transition, and a hopeful worldwide transformation towards peace.
As I pondered the profound, a man in a very large Sports Utility Vehicle stopped near me. He rolled down his car window. The gent was perhaps in his forties, well-groomed, and thankfully polite. Calmly, concerned, and a bit critical of what he seemed to think my naivety. this anonymous chap announced, “What would you do if they came on to our shores and attacked us.”
Without a thought I said, “Violence begets violence.” He repeated his query and expanded the thought. “Would you not fight back?” I reflected on what I observe to be true. People kill other people in the name of peace. Christians, Muslims, Jews proclaim a love of the Lord and all mankind, except when they define another as the enemy. I stated, “I would wonder of their reasons. Might they believe we had done them harm.” Agitated, the stranger shrieked, “Do you mean to say that we, Americans are to blame?” Without hesitation I responded, “No.” I than shared, “I believe as my grandfather taught me, ‘Two wrongs do not make a right.'” Seemingly in a huff, the man quickly sped away.
As an afterthought, I realized I might have asked as Andrew Wahl had more than two years ago; “Does It Matter?” (Archive No. 0626a) Does it matter who assaulted whom first or last. For me, it does not. Jew, Muslim, Christian, no matter the race or creed; a life is a life.
I thank you Andrew for the illustration that speaks more than a thousand words might.
- India Faces Reckoning as Terror Toll Eclipses 170, By Somini Sengupta and Keith Bradsher. The New York Times. November 29, 2008
- Obama Tells Abbas He’ll Work for Peace, By Isabel Kershner. The New York Times. November 20, 2008