12 February 2013

God v Man: Whatever

"When a man died there had to be blame.  Jimmy Cross understood this.  You could blame the war.  You could blame the idiots who made the war.  You could blame Kiowa for going to it.  You could blame the rain.  You could blame the river.  You could blame the field, the mud, the climate.  You could blame the enemy.  You could blame the mortar rounds.  You cloud blame people who were too lazy to read a newspaper, who were bored by the daily body counts, who switched channels at the mention of politics.  You could blame whole nations.  You could blame God.  You could blame the munitions makers or Karl Marx or a trick of fate or an old man in Omaha who forgot to vote.  In the field, though, the causes were immediate.  A moment of carelessness or bad judgment or plain stupidity carried consequences that lasted forever."  (from Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried)

Blame.  It's tricky.  Blame walks a fine line between its searing, condemnatory rage at 'what is wrong' and its obverse:  the needling, piecemeal, petty unraveling of a basic, axiomatic relationship we all have to 'reality', that crossroads between responsibility and chance.

Man's great trial is war.  How he behaves, the choices he makes, the judgements he renders in battle--they stand forever.  Unlike messages rendered by stunt planes in clouds for a holiday air-show or school-yard graffiti that is washed away by a custodial servant of institutional civility, war and its words, like the Ten Utterances shared between God and Moses at Sinai, are forever.

Of course, war as metaphor for life is forever, too.  (Sport and politics understand this, which contributes mightily to their allure.  Oh, and their absurd folly, too.)  Family, love, work, and even relaxation require constructs like strategic thinking, concern for open supply lines and coded communication, execution of plans, surprise attacks, battles, and of course, peace--elusive, temporary and full of grace, albeit the grace of stunt planes in clouds for a holiday air-show.

"Lord how many are mine adversaries become!  Many are they that rise up against me.  Many there are that say of my soul:  'There is no salvation for him in God.'  Selah.  But Thou, O Lord, art a shield about me; my glory and the lifter up of my head."

In other words, I don't blame.  I simply deal with the situation.  Take responsibility.  Raise my head high.  Or get it "lifted up."

Whatever.  Take credit, God.  See what I care.  Let's just get the job done.


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