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Sometimes You Need to Walk in the Garden

Spent this morning walking in a rose garden and strolling by beautiful old homes with their host as and roses and petunias and irises swaying in the wind. It was marvelous.

I needed that today. Last night we watched a really disturbing movie. I don't know why we rented it; I often like action movies (as long as there's not too much swearing), but we couldn't find anything in the store except the movie Unthinkable.

The movie actually was quite good, I suppose. The problem was that it was so disturbing.

Here's the premise: an American who has converted to Islam has managed to get his hand on enough nuclear material to build 3 (or 4) bombs. He has placed these bombs around the country in secret locations. The government has found him, but not the bombs. So how do you get him to tell you where they are?

In comes Samuel L. Jackson's character, who proceeds to torture him, to the horror of FBI agent Brody, played by Carrie Anne Moss from the Matrix. She is your typical politically correct agent. She "respects" the Koran. She thinks he's brave. She says no one is allowed to torture at all, and we should simply ask the guy questions.

I won't tell you what happens later in the movie, because it doesn't really matter for this post. But the movie ends up asking the question, "could you do the unthinkable to get information?" Is it right to do the unthinkable?

At one point Moss' character decides it's not, and says, "We can't do this! Just let the bomb go off!" (knowing that six million people will die). I'm not sure what I think, after watching the movie. I'm not as squeamish about torture as some people are, although I don't really want to go into that here. I think we're in a horrible conflict with a barbarian enemy, and it's very hard to win against barbarians if you insist on being completely civilized. The problem that I keep coming back to is this: is it worth surviving if you give up your civilized nature? If you have to give up who you are, is it worth saving all those lives? We can have different answers to that, but at least it's an important question to ask. I often feel that those who reject torture out right fail to realize that by doing so, you could be condemning millions to die. If you've thought about it and still feel that's worth it, okay. At least we're debating on the same plane. But don't pretend like we can win a war where we're always pristine. I don't think we can.

And that's why I needed to go for a walk in the rose garden today, because I was just overwhelmed with the ugliness of the world after watching that movie. Many things are ugly, of course, that are in the news on a daily basis: child kidnappings, rapes, gang shootings. Or there's ugliness just in natural disasters, like the recent floods in Pakistan.

Somehow, though, I find that ugliness easier to deal with. Natural disasters are just that. You can't blame anyone for them. Violence against another is usually an aberration. It can be explained as an evil individual, and it doesn't mean that the society itself is poisoned. Even corrupt governments that hurt their people I can better get my head around, because again, we're dealing with a minority oppressing a majority, and somewhere you hope that the majority does not share this view.

But what this movie brought home is that the ugliness may one day have to be in all of us, if we are to survive. And I don't like that. As a Christian, I can't accept that. I don't like thinking about it. I don't like that this existential conflict that our society is involved in cannot be won cleanly, for I don't believe it can. And so I pray for those who will one day have to make these hard decisions, that they will do the right thing, because I do not claim to know what the right thing is.

It just makes me feel dirty to live here. I know it is only because I saw the movie so recently, and then my dreams were haunted by it, but sometimes you need your palate cleansed. And so I walked through the roses, and saw the beauty, and smelled the flowers, and realized that even in the midst of ugliness beauty can grow. Perhaps that is all we are asked to do: bloom even when the world is ugly. We can't control what happens at those upper echelons of government or army decision making. We can't control terrorism, or violence, or evil. All we can do is to try to live out Jesus, where we are.

Some people will be asked to do horrible, impossible jobs before all of this over. I pray for them, and I'm glad that I am not among them. But let's not be quick to condemn, for I'm not sure that there always is a right thing to do that's obvious at the time. We've been debating the HIroshima bomb for over sixty years now (I support Truman's decision there), and people still aren't satisfied. But how can you be, when such evil exists in this earth? When evil exists, there isn't always a nice, clean answer. And I think I will stop looking for one, and just pray for those who are tasked with finding one. In the meantime, I think I'll plant roses.



At 8:47 AM , Blogger Mrs W said…

You are right that we need to bloom when there is ugliness. We need to live out Christ. Which if we are honest with ourselves means that we'd rather as Christians who know where we are going should be willing to sacrifice our lives for what is right.

I've mentioned it before on here. I'm a pacifist. If we as Christians truly want to live as Christ wanted us to live, we would not be supporting wars, or violence. Even in matters of self defense, I don't believe I should try to kill someone to prevent them taking my life. I don't want to be responsible for blasting someone into eternity in hell, when if they kill me I'm getting it good and going to heaven.

PEOPLE are more important than information. Sure, the guy might have planted the bombs because he's evil, but torturing another human for information is plain wrong. Is that how Jesus would have us treat our enemies? No, he says to do good to those who are our enemies. What if we as Christians were to live radical lives? Not torture the evil enemy, but rather pray and seek the Lord, and pray for the enemy, and trust God with the results? Wouldn't that be a much better thing to do?

I know in the case of Islam that we are up against totally different odds, but that doesn't change the commands of Christ. It doesn't change how He wants us to live. I believe that if we truly tried to follow His heart in these things, He would work it out for us. But it would have to be a collective effort on the part of all Christians everywhere, and I know that in reality, that is not going to happen.

That does not, however, mean that we as individuals can do wrong or support wrong just because everybody else is doing it. No matter who supports torture and terrible acts of violence, we must not. We must pray. We must do right. And God will bless us as individuals for doing so.


At 12:15 PM , Blogger Tessa said…

I really like what you said at the end of your post. I'm glad that I'm not the one who makes those decisions and I certianly pray for those who do. Sometimes they're going ot get it right and sometiems they're going to get it wrong, but we're all human so we shouldn't condemn eachother for that.
One thing that I keep in mind is that the people making those big important decisions have more information than we do and we should let them do their job. And keep in mind that God will prevail no matter what we do. He is in control over all, no matter what.

I can completely relate to the roses. I lay on my lawn in the sunshine and listen to my son playing in his sandbox while the birds chirp in the background and my husband is working the machinery. That's my pure moment :)

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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