There have now been 100 people murdered in Memphis this year. It's appalling, horrifying. But what would you do if bombs went off every day somewhere in Shelby County, killing an average of 100 people -- friends, neighbors, and family?
What if Presbyterians and Baptists were involved in a bloody war with each other on our streets? What if the Southaven Police Department abducted two Memphis police officers and Memphis unleashed a retaliatory attack that leveled Southaven and killed hundreds of civilians? What if missiles rained down on us from Mississippi? What if that hell-on-earth called the Middle East was here? We'd feel powerless, frightened, trapped.
But it's not here. It's thousands of miles away. What can we do about it? Sigh and shake our heads? March in the streets? I don't know, frankly. But with so many people citing their religion as a basis for killing other people, something's mightily off kilter on our little planet. Too many powerless people, including women and children, are suffering at the hands of the powerful -- dying through no fault of their own.
We read the following passage aloud together at church on Sunday. I offer it for what it's worth.
We will be together in these places.
We will watch out for each other.
We will listen to whatever needs to be said.
We will wait for the slowest.
We will sooner or later catch up with the fastest.
We will dry the tears of those who are weeping
and know that they will dry ours when the time comes.
We will let ourselves begin to feel at least a little of the pain
of those we have considered our enemies.
We will let ourselves feel the pain of being thought of as
someone else's enemy ... the pain of acknowledging all those
strands of history that have put so many barriers between us.
We will not forget life.
We will not forget to be grateful.
We will do our best to stir in each other
the courage to act with love and justice in our particular lives.
We will nurture hope.
Maybe that's the best we can do. Maybe not. What do you think?
Bruce VanWyngarden, Editor