Ripple of Hope
"Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others. . .they send forth a ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
- Robert F. Kennedy
Date: 9/10/2006 4:51:39 AM ( 15 y ) ... viewed 1998 times
I woke up from a dream, where I was a monster who had been mutilated so badly that they would not even allow shiny objects in my cell to avoid me seeing myself but i broke loose and saw myself on a prison monitoring camera. I believe the gruesome monster I had become in my dream was the potential inner me. I stared in disbelief at me. But in the dream it was reversed in that the potential me was the outer me. We can run from the brute who lives inside of us but one day we will have to face ourselves...even if it is in our dreams.
It is 5 a.m. I wanted to say things as raw as I can say them so you will know that I am no saint. I have allowed those around me to force me into brutality so many times. What I wanted to say was that I can change me. I will have to forgive those around me who are only partially through the same process and even more, I will have to forgive even those I don't know for their brutallity as well. I am not saying today even that I will not oppress others. I could be that disfigured monster of my dream. I am just saying that today, I will be a better man...at least I hope to be....
Imagine if you will that refusing to fight in politician's and preacher's wars is not juct pacifism but rather, refusing to destroy one's enemy is the best strategy for winning the peace. I once upon a time believed in "Capital Punishment." It made sense that an "eye for an eye" was a proper response to an evil man's attack on one's fellow human being. I am growing as a human being though. Each day, I find myself, more and more, gaining a belief that when we execute our fellow man for crimes he may have committed, we may make a mistake and kill an innocent man. But- having executed an innocent man, the crime he is executed for is changed from being one crime to two. I know there have been many innocent men that have died while accused of crimes they did not commit.
I have learned many lessons from times when was pushed into brutality:
When I was ten years old, there was a twelve year old girl that was much taller than me by several inches. I was very short even for my age. In any case, I must have provoked her anger for something I had no knowledge of but she began telling everyone in the neighborhood that she could whip me in a fight. The other kids began teasing me for days and days so when I had been badgered into shame, I fought this tall and lanky girl. I swore that I would not strike first though and that she would have to hit me first. She hit me once in a glancing blow and it was so light that I could not feel it. She struck me in the face, and even then it did not hurt but pride welled up in me and I slugged her in the gut. I rationalized that she had broken my rule to not strike the face. When I smashed my fist into her gut, she dropped to her knees and cried. She didn't come out of her house for months. I won that fight or did I? Shame was all I ever felt afterward. I was coaxed into hitting a girl from my peers. It said a whole lot more about me then it did about my strength and agility.
When I was a child, I played "war" most every chance I could. It was fun to get the jump on other children and say "I gotcha." But when it came to fighting, I usually ran from those much bigger than me unless I was trapped like a dog. I remember when I was arm wrestling the quarterback of the football team. I beat him easily. I was small but fiercely strong. The quarterback of the 6th grade football team was humiliated though and said that he was going to beat me up. He was much bigger than me, as I was a tiny boy back then. I ran and ran. I knew I was going to take a beating from someone who weighed fifty pounds more than me so just as my opponent on the playground was going to catch up with me to pulvarize me, I dropped like a sack and he tripped over me. He fell over me like a ton of bricks. He cried and cried. Tears rolled down his face and he ran to the teacher. I didn't get in trouble because I didn't hit him but it was then that I knew even in self defense, I could trully injure someone beyond a one on one...punch for punch...exchange of blows.
I remember what it was like being small. Bullies always sought me out. As a freshman, I would be challenged to fights for no other reason then that I was a freshman and small. I would run but one time, I didn't run and chose to fight. I fought this boy for an hour of exchanging blows. I felt no pain but only weariness. The other kids surrounded us and badgered us on and on... and on... We fought until a man working on the telephone lines stopped us. I went home and was so very tired.
I was so weak that I could hardly walk. I could hardly lift my arms. The next day the boy said he wanted to meet me after school to fight again. I could not have fought him another time but I held my head up high and said the fighting was through. He had his chance with me.
When I fought with my younger brother it was something different. He was even smaller than me and I could use my size to be a brute to him. He was very competetive though and refused to be left out of anything. Sometimes, he would hit me and I would be the one to chase him down. I would thump him on his chest with my knuckes in a mild form of torture because I was able to. It made me less of a human being but I only did this if he hit me. I was still a brute by I rationalized torturing my brother. My rule was to never hit my brother in the face. That made me fee lI had some type of nobility but I know now that torturing my brother just wasn't right.
By the time I was in the Army, I had grown to be tall...but I was very light. Some of the other soldiers would make fun of me for being a punk white boy or scrawny kid. I would get in frequent fights from what I could see was "pecking order" types of things. I am sure the other guys pushed the men I fought into fighting me. Almost all of the those fights ended in a draw. We would fight to a draw or if it became too much, the guys would pull us off of each other but one time... I was to fight with a black man much bigger than me but I couldn't back down. He threw a punch and I threw a punch and then he grabbed my arm and threw me over his head. I woke up in the barracks with several of my peers and the man I fought looking over me and I could hear panicked voices asking if I was dead. Apparantly they had carried me up while I was unconscious. I am certain that I could have reported the man and he would have been put in the brig but I said nothing. Doing nothing seemed to give me power.
I could have backed down in certain instances. I could have taken the humiliation on other occasions. I could have simply outrun my opponent. But what I learned from all of these situation was that there was more power in doing nothing or just dodging my opponents blows then taking a swing. I also learned to avoid injuring my opponents as it could have costly repurcussions. If I see my fellow man as my brother, then I should learn to turn the other cheek not just because it is right and good but because it gives the power to me. When I return blow for blow, it is never going to be a good outcome.
When I planned with my peers and the men who planned in high places to go to war with my nation's enemies, there were no rules. What worked in the barracks did not equate to what we planned for men who conspired against my nation. We would say every lie. We would betray every trust. We would plan to kill, knowing women and children would be those most likely to pay...with their lives... but we planned anyway. What is it that could change me from someone with a moral code into someone who would break every rule that I learned on the playground and barracks?
The only way I could convince myself to kill an enemy along with their wives, sons, and daughters was to dehumanize them. Just as the Governor who executes a convicted killer, the accused killer may be later on be found innocent or he may have been caught in the wrong place at the wrong time but many men have been executed who were innocent. In war, it is much worse. Innocent women and children are ten times more likely to die than enemy combatants. It is called, "collateral damage." It changes murder to a more sympathetic name but when I died and went to heaven...I returned to a have a new revelation...
When I left the Army, I never had a physical fight with another man. I took the blows of women without striking back. I came to the conclusion that I always have within me the capacity of inflicting great harm but I choose not to do so. My whole life was teaching me these things but when I met God, I knew that I had to treat everyone from what I learned about from fighting with my brother. I might have to hold my brother down to keep him from hitting me but never torture or injure him. My brother and I respect each other today and we have no desire to injure one another. I know that if I had been merciless and injured my brother when I was young, he might even carry a grudge to this day...but today we are friends...perhaps my lesson is that mercy is stronger than brutality and if I defeat my enemy while just deflecting his blows then I will have much more strength than he when the next blow comes. This is what I woke up to in the middle of the night to say. I just wanted to say that I am capable of learning from my mistakes. I would only hope that my nation would do the same.
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