Apparently I care

November 16, 2008

We were talking about war and peace in or series on “Virtue in Public Life” in Everyothers tonight.   The series is based on some of the social principles of the United Methodist Church.  The Book of Discipline is annoyingly wishy-washy on the issue. We got on this track of talking about how certain wars are justifiable.  I had to civilly disagree.  So I started talking about what Jesus says about loving your enemies and self sacrifice.  I didn’t feel it, but people told me that I looked like I was going to cry.  See, my head cares about a lot of things that don’t necessarily inspire me with passion and feeling.  But some times I surprise myself.  I guess my heart cares too.

Sunday Quotation: “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:27-31, NIV

A Heavy Thing

September 11, 2008

Seven years ago was my second week of college.  I was being so good I was up early to get ready to go to my nine o’clock class.  My roommate was in the shower. I turned on the TV to Good Morning America to see the smoldering first tower.  Charlie Gibson was speculating about what had happened; no one even knew it was a plane at that point.  I was making my bed and was looking over just as the second plane hit.  The two burning towers made it pretty clear that it was no accident.  That always strikes be because I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve watched morning news shows since then.

I went to class (Psychology 101), and things went on as usual.  I got back from class and 50 girls were all siting around watching the coverage on the TV in the lobby.  By that time the plane had hit the pentegon and the commentators began talking about the fact that the towers were going to collapse.  Then it was time for our eleven o’clock classes.  I went but by that time everyone knew and we got released early.  I don’t remember much more from that day, I know we got an email from our psych professor saying that he was sorry but he didn’t know what was going on.  I’m sure that I spoke with my parents, and I think that I spent a lot of the time in the lobby with a bunch of these girls whom I’d just met.

That’s what happenend the fifteenth day that I lived alone, the fifteenth day I was a grown up. The world changed just as mine changed.  So it’s sometimes mixed up in my mind why things are different than they were.  Is it me or the world?  I’ll never know.

Inspired by this video.

The summer after my freshman year of college I went on a mission trip with bunch of friends to Atlanta.  Each day we service work and each evening we’d throw block parties with the help of an organization that ran mini missions for immigrants and refugees in apartment complexes through out the city.  We had our band play and we would feed everyone and we talked to people about Jesus.

On the second day we were with a group of refugees from Chechnya, a region in Russia that saw fighting between the Christian and Muslim ethnic groups.  At the block party I was talking to a young girl; we were sitting on a stoop and looking at a track that I had (that’s another post) that had a picture of Jesus on the cross on it.  The girl looked at me and the picture and said “That’s what they did to my dad.”  Man, that did me in. I was sitting there crying and praying and talking to her.

Just as that was happening another one of our group, J, came around to take pictures and just check on everyone.  I called him over and told him the story and we sat there and talked to the girl.  It was really an amazing and touching experience for all of us.  We came back to the church we were staying at and shared it with our group.

So 4 months went by and then we were back in school together.  One of the first things we did was to have a church service where we share our pictures and stories with people who did not come with us.  J was going to be the big finally.  So he started telling this story about how on the second day he’d met this girl who saw the picture of Jesus and said “that’s what they did to my dad.”  But the funny thing was that I was totally removed from the story.  In his mind it was all him and I wasn’t even there.  Funny, especially since there were pictures that he took of me sitting with the very girl.  So I asked him about it and presented the evidence and he was totally baffled; he completely thought it was just him. Crazy.  My memory got coopted.

Think before you lie

July 22, 2008

Recently a former presidential candidate from Columbia and three US contractors were rescued from their rebel captors after being held for over five years. (Here’s one of the first articles to cover the story.) Now besides the fact that these people were still alive after all these years there are some highlights that make this a particularly cool story. First, though the US provided equipment and intelligence, the rescue mission was carried out entirely by the Columbian military, a group that’s been plagued by political corruption (so I’d say that’s a step in the right direction.) Also the rescue team took acting classes (I mean how great is that.) (They used a rebel informant to trick the guards by saying they were here to move the prisoners on orders of some other leader.) And finally though everyone was armed with machine guns strapped to their backs, no shots were fired, no one was hurt, it was completely peaceful. When I first heard about the story I thought “wow, that would make a great movie.” But there may be a high cost for that peaceful mission.

Photographs of the Colombian military intelligence-led team that spearheaded the rescue, shown to CNN by a confidential military source, show one man wearing a bib with the Red Cross symbol. The military source said the three photos were taken moments before the mission took off to persuade the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebels to release the hostages to a supposed international aid group for transport to another rebel area.

Such a use of the Red Cross emblem could constitute a “war crime” under the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law and could endanger humanitarian workers in the future, according to international legal expert Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association.

So next time the Red Cross wants to send aid worker or monitors to check on prisoners’ conditions, or news outlets send journalists (the mission was documented on film by rescuers claiming to be journalists) those rebels will think twice. And somebody’s life is going to be in danger.

I think it had to just be a mistake in thinking out the outcome. One step too far. They obviously convinced them that they were fellow rebel soldiers; I wish they had left it at that. Sometimes circumstances require a deception, like when you’re rescuing people, or conducting a social psychology experiment. In psychology you have to justify any lies that you tell your subjects and show how you can’t do your experiment in any other way.

Why? Because lies mess with people’s attitudes and perception of others, they are powerful. I just had some money stolen from me on an online purchase. It makes me rethink whether I want to use that system again. Even though I know that hundreds of thousands of trouble free transactions go on on the site and this is only my first problem, I am still disconcerted. The bad egg messed with my psyche. Because he lied to me, I’m taking it out on all the other good sellers out there.

So lying is mainly a bad idea (doesn’t the bible say something about that?) but if you do it just be sure to think through all of the consequences.