Monday, August 25, 2008

Passive vs Agressive

The year was about 1965 and my friend Orville announced to the world that he had enrolled in the American Marine force and was heading to Vietnam. It didn’t make sense he was Canadian – and to top it all off his Scandinavian Heritage had little to do with the USA or anything in the war setting.

Orville had not done well in school – he was genius with cars and women – but school was something you got through… not excelled in. You tolerated it and made it through eventually but that was because all your friends were there and the girls were too.

We all headed into either University or good jobs that paid well. Orville worked as a Bell Hop at a local hotel – making good tips he said and with the tips he fixed up his hot rod with a larger motor and lots of body work.

So when Orville signed up for the US Military it was not a surprise. Yet we were not that well informed about Vietnam or what was happening. It would be later when I would sort through my own feelings about men dieing far away for something they really didn’t understand. Then we would see “the Vets” come home broken and dead…thousands of them.

Orville never made it to Vietnam…something about the compassionate transfer out – his mother was deathly sick requiring him to come home. There were at least 5 sons that could be there with her…but she was deathly sick so he came home. In reality she got deathly sick thinking that her second last son could or would get killed in a war that was real.

About four years after that time I started meeting up with “draft dodgers” – men that had run from the Vietnam War to Canada. They were Hippy Types – weird looking with long unkempt hair, poor clothing, and usually living in a communal arrangement.

For my younger readers “draft dodgers” were “low life” types that had run away from responsibilities of being forced into an army and war that they didn’t believe in. They had left behind family and friends that had stayed and done their part in the war effort. Now they were living alone in Canada without support and celebration of those that should be close to them.

During those early years of the Vietnam War I worked in New Brunswick, Canada. My territory as a Computer Technician was parallel to the USA/Maine border. I often drove the St. John River valley north to Edmonston, N.B. and then back.

One of those trips north the war came home to me in a vibrant way. Suddenly just a few hundred feet above my vehicle came a roar of jet engines. A B52 Bomber was doing a low run along the St. John River valley – I suppose imitating the runs that they would do over the Mekong River in Vietnam later. To hear it above you, then see the tail disappear ahead of you – with the fire seeming to breath from the tails of each motor – raised the hair on your neck. This was war practice right in front of me. It was an American plane just above me. They meant business with this practice. I suddenly realized that I was a possible Vietnamese target – that if I had been in Vietnam I would have then been in heaven.

This posting is following yesterday’s – when I contemplated again the futility of war…struggles over sand that doesn’t matter and rocks that don’t care. When I come to the realization that I am a passive person, I hate war. I hate killing. None of it makes sense at all. So – yes I do question the aggressive nature that some people have… either on their side or our side.

In about 1977 as a minister I attended a special conference in Springfield, Missouri. A fellow minister picked me up at the airport. I was their special speaker for that conference. We were the same age. We both had two kids and had also almost the same training in our working careers. We had a lot in common and immediately hit it off in a big way becoming close friends from the start.

Over that week with him I met his wife, his kids and his friends. They were wonderful Christian people.

I can’t remember how it came about that he told me his latest endeavor. He had just trained his wife and kids to handle the big guns that he kept in his house. They all learned how to fire them under his guidance. Then they acted out the possible scenarios that they might have to use the guns. If and when a burglar entered their home – and they were home – they were to retrieve the gun and then aim, fire with the intension to maim or kill the person before they got their last limb out of the house. That would then be self defense… hitting the person outside of the house was murder – and we don’t want any hassle with a murder charge…self defense if OK – murder is not OK. There was great pride in the story and the accomplishment of getting the family onside to blast someone to smithereens.

I was still in shock when we entered his car in the next hour to go and pick up his kids from a school game. He told me how he had a large gun under his seat to use in case of some one trying to take him hostage of steal his car from him. Then he pulled it out to show me. It was the largest silver pistol that I had ever seen…right under his seat!

He proceeded to explain how his wife’s little brother had run from a southern state and their good Christian Family to live somewhere in Ontario…as “draft dodger”. The disgust in his voice was real. Then he told me the worst part. The younger brother was a dead man as far as the family was concerned. If he returned they would personally kill him or if not – have him arrested by authorities for his running away.

The southern Christian Family with the run away son had a proud American Heritage of each generation having fought in a war somewhere. They had lost some and they had some return broken and busted up – but that was their duty.

I think my new minister friend saw that I was in shock because he stopped telling me the stories and took me to the airport. I couldn’t stop thinking of the horror that the young man had now – living somewhere in Ontario.

Later, when President Bill Clinton signed an order to allow the guys to come home… this fellow would likely not return because he was a dead man in the eyes of his family.

Now as I write today I am shaken again by what some people consider Christianity to be. They are justified by the killing if the cause is right. But it is killing… that is one person taking another person’s life…? How can that be good?

At times I see Christians that still think that killing is OK – within the church – but that is another story. For now I question why we think it is OK to do what some are promoting as “humanitarian aid” with guns leveled and sites trained on people that are reticent to receive our help.

Something is a little off with some of this strange knowledge and thinking pattern.

Ok – Ok – enough already! BUT is it OK to ask the question – whether this is right to do? What does God think about it all? God have mercy on us today…please have mercy!

~ Murray Lincoln ~
PS – If you are a new reader to this Blog and wonder at my reasoning… please take a look at my last name…yes I am related to a man that was famous in the good old USA… Abe Lincoln is a relative for sure… and he was killed over a really terrible war that pitched people against people… with thousands upon thousands dieing for what?... to live together in the same country…? and if you know the whole story – he was doing a very difficult job. Yes my family was deeply affected by war – deeply!

1 comment:

Tim Schindel said...

Hi Murray - interesting post. My bible just 'happened' to be open to Is. 61 when I read your blog. The whole chapter is good, but the part about being people who rebuild, restore and revive really seems to answer the question you are asking. The reality is that those upon whom the guns are trained while we offer humanitarian help are not the majority. They just happen to be the minority with the guns. They also happen to be the people that believe it's okay to oppress women and girls and deny them freedom and education. They are the same who don't think twice about killing people who have a different set of values and beliefs than they do. They are extremists and they are dangerous.

The bulk of the population are being helped and are benefiting from access to schools, healthcare, improved infrastructure, etc. They are the oppressed and need someone to protect and deliver them from the lunacy that threatens their nation.

I am SO PROUD of what Canada is doing in Afghanistan. I'm VERY PROUD of our soldiers who represent us and put themselves in harm's way to help people who need it... and I'm not even a Don Cherry fan!

Killing is wrong, but it's also wrong not to step in to protect those in danger...