Today’s Boston Marathon bombings are an unwelcome reminder of the realities of this era. Witnesses to the event said, “This must be what it is like in Iraq.” And that’s true. This is what life has been like in Iraq for a long time. People just walk down the street, going about their ordinary errands — and boom! they are dead, their lives end in an explosion of blood and terror and death. Maybe it’s a roadside or sidewalk-side bomb planted by a non-state terrorist. Perhaps it’s a missile strike fired by a drone operated by agents of state terror.
Today’s tax day reminds me that my taxes have helped pay for a considerable amount of such mayhem, in terms of both direct and indirect violence. Paying such taxes is always on my list of sins to confess when I go to confession. Bless me Father, for I have sinned. I willingly wrote a check for the balance I owed the government above what was withheld, after dutifully declaring all the little bits and pieces of income in my life, $41.60 here, $293 there. It doesn’t add up to a huge amount but the devil certainly got his due out of it.
But so did the Lord, because even a wild and crazed anarchist like myself admits that governments on occasion manage to do some good. I know lots of firefighters and I think what they do is very important and critical and I am glad that I can pay taxes to finance their operations. And I don’t even mind the government borrowing a prudent amount of money on occasion on behalf of their activities.
At the rate the world is devolving, we unfortunately will be in great need of fire fighters and other emergency first responders.
NB: Those of us of the Catholic and Orthodox and Episcopalian and Lutheran religious persuasions and thus in the habit of invoking saints. . . should be calling upon St. Michael for all emergency first responders and St. Florian for firefighters in particular. All can add their voices and prayers in their own ways and traditions.
And then we need to all go out and wash the feet of people we meet.
After the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, someone put up billboards all over town — ‘Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
That is eternal truth. Our good doings are the answer to evil’s doings in the world. Great or small, every act of beauty and wisdom stands against the increasing chaos and violence of our day. Even though the structures of evil that make it so easy to do violence in this world appear to prosper and seem irresistible, their strength and permanence are not what their proponents would have us believe. All of that world of evil is at risk as we, by grace and work, create our own structures of goodness that will make it easier for all to do good and resist the bad.
It doesn’t look that way right now, because the mainstream media conditions us to believe in the inevitable triumph of evil and the defeat of all that is good. We are fed a steady diet of misinformation and propaganda that this year finds maybe an ultimate expression in the premier of a television series on a major United States network about a cannibalistic mass murderer.
The reason for building alternative structures now, before the feces hit the ventilating device full strength, is so that when the feces do fly, we have some shelter and don’t get plastered. Truthfully, I’d have to say that depending on where you are at, the feces may already be hitting the ventilation devices.
There doesn’t seem to be much time to waste.
It would help if the United States government would stop contributing such a significant amount of violence and terror to the world situation. That’s within our power. We could, constitutionally, do something about that. We could amend the Constitution to keep our troops and fleets at home unless we are attacked or are rescuing people in the wake of a disaster. We could have a Department of Peace to go with our Department of War. We could sit here on the North American continent armed to the teeth, cheek, and jowls and nobody is going to bother us. We’ve already established our potential for violence in the world. I don’t think anyone needs anything further to understand exactly what we are capable of in this world. So we can declare peace and go home.
Those who run around the world looking for trouble will certainly find it. Now would be a good time to stop asking for trouble and start minding our peace.
It all begins at my house. And yours. No one has to wait for anyone else to start counteracting the evil that runs so strongly in our days. Everyone, in their own individual ways, can do something. And we all need to do something. No slacking when it comes to the good!
I say that today is truly an emergency and we should all respond with good to overcome this evil.