This train of thought began building when I heard a reference to “the Bible” as ‘the Word of God’, putting its contents on the pedestal of privilege. The Word of our Creator, the breath of the Divine, is necessarily ‘The Universe’. All else is a secondary text, even this invented collection of books called ‘the Bible’. ‘The Evolution of Life’ is even more precious because of its intricate dialogue between vulnerability and possibility.
Culture could be our avenue to new heights in that remarkable dance. It could hold us together as a species, making us more than disparate individuals, if we could see past the details to focus on the goal: living on this Earth until its end. When I work backwards from that point, I know violent “solutions” are nev
er sustainable because they infect our global culture. Thousands of people insist that force is the only realistic way to achieve the ultimate peace but I disagree wholly. To suppose that engendering violence for any reason can lead to peace is to misunderstand violence’s self-fulfilling prophesy effects and lack the patience and perspective to be a true peace-maker. True peace-building does not orient to such short-term outcomes, understanding that raw, eye-for-eye justice has had thousands of years to bring peace but never accomplished it.
My thoughts run on for pages on the topic. I am puzzled by the violence in Myanmar; I usually at least understand the misguided goal but in this case I am at a loss for why Buddhists are slaughtering Muslims. I heard that some Buddhist monks will allow a mosquito to drink from their hand rather than offend the sacredness of life by killing even a parasite. Obviously, these Rakhine militants are not adherents to any such code. I used to boast of my own “code” for killing small things; it is interesting how we can find rationalizations between the lines of our codes and texts. Sparing the mosquito is less of a code than an attitude of respect for life.
At last, there was a large black fly in my apartment. I believe this is a universal experience of humanity: an insect so large you can hear its annoying wing-beat from any room. This one was completely harmless and not especially agile. I started entertaining thoughts ts of hunting it down and killing it, to restore silence and for the gleeful sport of the challenge.
Unbidden, my justifications floated to the surface:
-I will never be able to get it outside otherwise.
-I cannot possibly endanger flies as a species.
-Maybe its dirty and I surely do not want it walking on my food.
Then I remembered the Buddhists monks. My mind turned to the human conflicts in this region, raging in Syria or quietly simmering to my West. We always begin by supposing freedom, or justice, or whatever abstract, will never be achieved otherwise. From there, it is a short leap to the pathetic. We think we’re going to cleanse the world. We think its alright if its not genocide –or we are preventing our OWN genocide. This attitude is woefully short-sighted because we bleach away the soul of love, generosity, and stewardship that sustains life for generations.
I felt a swell of compassion for the fly as she crashed into window screes, trying to get out into the sunshine again. How sad, how silly, I was to suppose I should kill something for something so trivial as whether the apartment is perfectly silent or if the fly might, maybe, kinda be dirty (possibly?). It would be better to weather the annoyance and live together for a while. Yet, she was doomed to die without access to the outdoors. It was not enough to have my hands clean of blood.
Then a miracle happened. Believe me, I took a cheesy spiritual gifts assessment once and it told me I was a miracles person. The fly landed on my pant leg. Instead of smashing the fly, I cupped my hand and slowly moved it beneath her. There are passages in the Gospel that advise me to be ever gentle, ever kind, and ever loving. So, that ‘secondary’ text is more than supplementary; it has the capacity to be luminary. Sometimes it would seem as if moving a mountain is more feasible than catching a house-fly. I had a little faith, then.
She made a quick jump into my open hand and we walked, together, to the door. My hand never closed. Just as I opened the door, she took flight and went straight outdoors.
I said to myself, “I never know when I will entertain an angel.”